We need better enviro leaders


To the editor:

(re: “Want to talk about my record on environment? Here it is,” Dec. 12)

In his Point of View responding to the one I wrote Nov. 28, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel failed to address a single point that I made in my critique of his environmental record. As expected, he referred to his rating from “Big Green” organizations.

But calling for alternatives fuels for government vehicles and touting correct votes is a very far cry from the kind of passionate, justice-oriented environmental and climate leadership that our district and world are crying out for.

Mr. Engel hides behind Big Green approval, rather than returning tens of thousands he has taken this past year — and for many years — from weapons manufacturers that drive climate change, wars, and create toxic Superfund sites in our state. He is mute on the subject of environmental racism in his district, mute on the siting of poisonous fossil fuel plants within impoverished communities.

He claims his Open Fuel Act was an environmental measure, unable to refute that it was lauded by far-right groups for paving the way for domestic fossil fuel production. He implies that the bills is pending, however, he did not introduce it in the current session.

He refuses to address constituent calls to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Instead, Mr. Engel resorts to ad hominem attack, saying I am “a partisan supporter of one of my opponents with an obvious political agenda.” Well, yes, I clearly stated my support for Dr. Jamaal Bowman. Yes, during primary campaigns, voters tend to be “partisan and political.”

Are supporters of Mr. Engel not partisan and political? Are those words of seeming disparagement only reserved for constituents who openly support an opponent?

Mr. Engel stoops, as well, to falsely suggesting that I’m a late-comer to the climate justice struggle.

Leaders like Dr. Bowman will fight for a movement-driven Green New Deal, not for the “green capitalism” that Mr. Engel supports in calling for the United States to “become a major exporter of green energy solutions to the rest of the world.” Praise for your newsletter last winter is no match for action, Mr. Engel, nor for a deep understanding of the ways the United States must work in transnational solidarity, rather than shoving its “solutions” down the throats of countries and people suffering from a crisis wrought by the United States.

Congressman Engel, your record is clear. You are not an environmental or a climate leader. You are a follower whose record and donor contributions suggest ambivalence and cynicism. Congressional seats don’t belong to any elected officials, whether they’ve been in that seat one decade, or three.

That decision rests with voters.

I and others need genuine, forceful leadership in Washington, and in the district, on environmental and climate justice.

I’ll cast my vote on primary day for Jamaal Bowman, who is championing the new kind of leadership that we desperately need.

Jennifer Scarlott

The author is coordinator of Bronx Climate Justice North, and North Bronx Racial Justice.

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Jennifer Scarlott,