During the League of Women Voters of Huntington’s Meet the Candidates event, Rep. Tom Suozzi deemed himself the “green candidate” in the NY-3 Democratic primary race citing endorsements as evidence.
Unfortunately for primary challengers, endorsements from well-known interest groups and PACs are more likely to be awarded to the incumbent rather than their challengers. However, these endorsements shouldn’t deter voters from examining the clear differences in policy positions between Rep. Suozzi and Melanie D’Arrigo.
By the end of the debate, it was clear that Melanie D’Arrigo is undoubtedly the best choice in this primary for protecting the environment and combating climate change.
Rep. Suozzi has held governmental positions since 1994 as Mayor of Glen Cove, Nassau County Executive, and now two terms in the House of Representatives.
Yet, his time in office has not translated into tangible results on key environmental protections. While Rep. Suozzi is not responsible for the Grumman Plume, he has failed to hold Northrop Grumman accountable throughout his time in public office.
The Grumman Plume was the result of Grumman, a defense contractor, allowing toxic chemicals to leak into the ground. Of these chemicals, trichloroethylene has now become recognized as carcinogenic.
Attempts to stop the growth of the plume during Suozzi’s time in office have been measures agreed upon by Northrop Grumman and consequently have not been effective in cleaning up the plume.
While Bethpage residents continued to call for more action, the plume continued and still continues to expand. Today, the Bethpage Plume is four miles by two miles and is 900 feet deep. Since 2017, Rep. Suozzi even accepted $12,500 from the Employees of Northrop Grumman Corporation PAC.
Rep. Suozzi is not the candidate in this race that will stand with constituents to hold corporate interests accountable and fight to remediate this environmental crisis. Contrarily, Melanie D’Arrigo’s commitment to not accepting any corporate PAC money should make NY-3 constituents feel confident that D’Arrigo will be accountable to her constituents rather than to corporate power.
Melanie will fight alongside Long Island and Queens residents in defense of clean drinking water rather than in defense of the corporations Rep. Suozzi accepts money from.
The climate crisis is among the most pressing issues for voters. The rise in global temperatures affects coastal communities along the north shore of Long Island as the threat of rising sea levels becomes a reality.
The Green New Deal is the only congressional resolution ambitious enough to address climate change while ensuring Americans are provided job and health security. While Rep. Suozzi’s support for the Green New Deal was commendable, he did not stick to his strong support of the resolution.
Instead, Rep. Suozzi labeled the Green New Deal as a “fantasyland,” suggesting that he is not fully committed to achieving the goals of the resolution.
Protecting the Long Island Sound is a good start, but no amount of funding for the Long Island Sound will protect coastal communities without strong legislation combating climate change. Rep. Suozzi is not the strongest candidate in this race to deal with the climate crisis. While Rep. Suozzi stresses bipartisanship, combating climate change should not be an issue of compromise.
Rep. Suozzi is a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus that averaged a 16 percent score for environmentally-conscious votes in 2018 from the League of Conservation Voters.
Rep. Suozzi should be pressing these Republicans to support legislation such as the Green New Deal if the Climate Solutions Caucus wants to provide a substantial climate solution. If the deadlines set by scientists to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and to transition to zero-emission energy sources are not met, this country and our local community will be faced with future economic and health costs far exceeding the costs of the Green New Deal.
D’Arrigo understands that taking actions to undo the climate crisis starts with key environmental protections but then needs to extend into ambitious climate legislation that will address socio-economic and racial inequalities that are exacerbated by climate change. Melanie D’Arrigo is a Sunrise Movement NYC recommended candidate, was endorsed by Sunrise Movement Huntington, and signed the Sunrise Movement’s No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge and Green New Deal Pledge while Rep. Suozzi refused to sign both. The differences in policy positions between the two candidates makes the choice clear: settle for Rep. Suozzi who will continue on status quo environmental progress or elect Melanie D’Arrigo who will fight for her constituent’s interests, stand up to Long Island’s polluters, and advocate for purposeful climate legislation. If you are a registered Democrat in New York’s Third Congressional District, you can vote in this primary up until election day on June 23.
Cohen is an intern with the D’Arrigo campaign