As reported by PJ Media, Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held an impromptu stump speech in Queens yesterday where she encouraged her constituents to "come together to put together a vision of the world that we want to build for ourselves" so they could make bold new plans such as turning Rikers Island into a solar panel field to help combat global warming. However, despite being praised by liberals for her bold leadership, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will likely have little involvement of the actual transformation of this if it were to happen as this is an issue for the New City Council, not the federal government.
PJ Media notes that AOC told her audience that "when we come together and we decide that we're gonna shut down Rikers, and we're gonna turn it not into a playground for the real-estate lobby, and not into a playground for the rich, but we're gonna put it, and we're gonna transform it into a public good for all people." The freshman representatives continued saying, "If you just put 25% of Rikers Island and cover it in solar panels, we can close every toxic power plant in New York City that was built in the last two decades," she added.
Ocasio-Cortez wants to close the Rikers Island prison complex so she can put solar panels on it to fight climate changepic.twitter.com/QzIJZyjxhx— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) June 7, 2019
But, this plan has already been in discussion for quite some time. As reported by Crain's New York Business, Queens Councilman Costa Constantinides recommended in March 2019 turning New City's correctional facility complex on Rikers Island into a "solar-power operation and wastewater treatment facility."
Noting that building a new connection to the city would be too expensive, and other plans for development were unlikely, the councilman said to his colleagues, "You're not going to bring large buildings there...You're not going to build a new runway, tear up the [marine] ecosystem there. It's not appealing to anyone in this neighborhood."
Thus, citing the same statistic AOC did in her speech yesterday, Constantinides "argued that dedicating just a quarter of Rikers' surface area to solar panels and battery installations to store solar-generated energy would enable the city to close the gas- and oil-burning power plants in his district and beyond." Like Ocasio-Cortez, he also noted that the current facilities were causing health problems for low-income families.
Even Constantinides borrowed this idea from "more than three years ago" when Crains reported that "architecture firm FXCollaborative proposed creating an island for parks and clean-energy production. It included a solar farm and sewage facility."
Crain's notes that the decision regarding Rikers "will fall to whomever is mayor in the late 2020s." This begs the question if Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is so concerned about New York City and the specific issues affecting it, why didn't she just run for local office? Or better yet, why doesn't she now encourage deregulation and a smaller federal government which gives New York City and other localities more control over their government so that we can "put together a vision of the world that we want to build for ourselves?"