Borough President Fossella, Doctors Address Impact Of Congestion Pricing On Staten Island's Air Quality
Borough President Vito Fossella addressed the negative impacts the congestion pricing plan will have on Staten Island’s air quality, particularly on the North Shore where the rate of chronic respiratory illnesses are among the highest in the city.
“Make no mistake, this congestion pricing plan will not only cost you $23 to drive to Manhattan, but it will increase our traffic and further foul our already polluted air for the rest of our lives and the lives of our children and our grandchildren,’’ said Borough President Fossella during a press conference in Port Richmond, nearly a week after he announced plans to file a lawsuit against congestion pricing.
He was joined at the press conference by Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton; Council Member Kamillah Hanks; Queens Assemblyman David Weprin; Dr. Philip Otterbeck, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Richmond University Medical Center; Dr. Nicole Berwald, Medical Director at Staten Island Univeristy Hospital; the Rev. Dr. Tony Baker, pastor of St. Philips Baptist Church, and neighborhood residents.
Borough President Fossella likened the health effects to those caused by the Fresh Kills landfill, which opened in 1948. He cited a federal government study which projects that
"Staten Island's poor air quality will be worse, not just now, but until 2045 and beyond" due to the congestion pricing plan.
“We’re here today because there’s a new group that has a new plan, which is the same as the old plan – congestion pricing," he said. "From 1948 to 2045, this new group wants to add insult to injury, intentionally polluting Staten Island’s air for a century. We won’t get fooled again.”
The numbers in Port Richmond, he said, speak for themselves: From 2015 to 2017, the asthma hospitalizations among adults were worse compared to the NYC average and the rest of Staten Island; asthma hospitalizations among children under the age of 18 were worse compared to the NYC average and the rest of Staten Island; asthma ER emergency department visits among adults ages and 18 and older were worse compared to the NYC average and the rest of Staten Island, and respiratory hospitalization in adults aged 20 years and older were worse compared to the NYC average and the rest of Staten Island.
“In a borough where we’ve grown up with the environmental injustice of having what was the largest garbage dump in the world, it’s disheartening that my patients should have to suffer with the increase of environmental toxins associated with congestion pricing,” said Dr. Otterbeck, an endocrinologist.
On July 23, Borough President Fossella announced he was laying the foundations to file a lawsuit against congestion pricing.
“In public policy, political decisions are often made that weigh the costs and benefits -- and the bottom line for people who live on Staten Island is there are no benefits to this congestion pricing plan,” during the air quality press conference.