Lindsey Boylan is taking on representative Jerry Nadler’s NY-10 seat in the upcoming 2020 House election. Running on a platform of climate change legislation, curbing systemic inequality, and expanding economic rights, Boylan is pitching herself as someone who will actively fight for a progressive future.
Boylan recently debated Rep. Nadler on the cable channel NY1 to discuss their various policy positions, and why each candidate deserved to win. Ms. Boylan’s criticism focused heavily on Rep. Nadler’s contribution history from various fossil fuel-related companies, along with his record in Congress. The deadline for voting in the New York primary is June 23rd.
I’m looking forward to talking about climate change with you today, since it seems to be a central part of your campaign.
Absolutely. If you look at my district on a map, it’s basically all coastline. My interest in this topic comes from a passion, but we also don’t have the luxury of avoiding it, as my district is front and center for the next climate-related disaster.
What are Nadler’s weakest points on climate, and how will you be different in those areas?
Ugh, so he’s a lot like these progressives that have been in office for decades, where the moment that traction began to pick up around the Green New Deal, certainly, he’s on board with it, but he’s done virtually nothing to actually lead on this issue in his career, even though he represents a district that’s basically all coastline. So, it’s not that he has the wrong worldview, it’s that he’s done nothing to help, and he only started talking about it once he had a very serious challenger.
About the Green New Deal, how would you support that, in ways other than just voting for it?
When I was a college student at Wellesley, in my senior year, Hurricane Katrina happened. New Orleans was completely flooded, a lot of the levees broke, and that was one of the biggest examples of climate-related disasters that we’ve had in the US. In fact, it did exactly what climate disasters do, in that it hit our most vulnerable communities the worst. Black residents have still, in many cases, never fully recovered.
The loss of life was not even, either in terms of racial or socioeconomic background, and our government failed at every level, including FEMA. That really inspired me to want to go in for this planet, because the whole question was: “how do we do better, how do we rebuild, how could we possibly do something different than just replicate the problems that we’ve had?” And, of course, that’s not what happened in New Orleans.
After Hurricane Katrina, it’s still very uneven. And that question really motivated the first moments of my career as a scholar. My whole professional life has developed around that. The week after I came home from my honeymoon, Hurricane Sandy happened, and I live within the frontline of what was hit by the hurricane. We didn’t have power for a week, and this district was one of the hardest hit.
It was probably one of the first disruptive moments besides 9/11 which a lot of New Yorkers had experienced while physically being here. Ultimately, I worked at New York State, and I could actually oversee the recovery, which 7 years after Hurricane Sandy is still administering funds for rebuilding. I also oversaw some of the recovery work in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria. All of these examples are hurricanes that were made worse, and will be made worse in the future because of climate change. I had to oversee the state emergency response in Puerto Rico and the recovery response.
What I think I can fundamentally bring to the table, in a Green New Deal, and getting movement on climate change, is a real understanding of what works and what doesn’t, in even responding to the climate-related disasters that we already have that are only going to be increasing. This is a big reason why I want to be on the appropriations committee, because one of the key ways that we failed Puerto Rico was in the response, in terms of getting resources.
We still haven’t, and thousands of people have died as a result of it. So, I am all in on getting a Green New Deal passed. I have a 6-year-old daughter, and we need to build a better system for her. We’re working under borrowed time right now, and the specific skill that I have is operationally managing and having overseen all the massive-scale work in response to climate to these disasters. That will absolutely affect the kinds of positions that I will take in congress.
It really does seem like we have left Puerto Rico behind this last time.
Yes, and that’s ultimately a result of failed government policy.
Besides the Green New Deal, which other policies would you like to see implemented?
I’m very focused on legislation that’s going to help states and localities transfer to alternative energy, so in terms of incentives, anything that further supports the solar power industry, insulation, and anything that supports wind power development. I’m less concerned with where the parts are manufactured, and making new jobs for people here, since this is what the solar power industry already does, because the #1 job in the next 10 years are going to be solar panel installers.
The ways in which we can incentivize alternative energy, mass transit, and particularly in respect to building. This is because in a place like New York City, the most pollution is coming from our buildings, not oil. So, anything that deals with those categories, in particular, and I’m also very focused on legislation which helps with the refugee crisis globally.
As you probably know, we have more refugees on a global scale than we’ve ever had in recorded history, which is around 65 million people or so. A lot of that has to do with climate-related factors. If people are not safe, and able to live in their homes, nothing is going to stop them from going where they can, to help their kids survive, and we need figure that out.
I wanted to ask you about EVs, and how we should incentivize them in the future.
I am originally from San Diego, California, and it’s really unfortunate to me that a lot of the leaders in California at the state level are being undermined by federal regulatory rollback, and I think we need to basically undo everything that Trump has done. I’m interested in legislation which helps incentivize that, which kind of goes back to your question about electric vehicles.
I know that one of the biggest issues is battery production, at least that is the case with Tesla, and I would want to caution and say that we need to think very carefully about that aspect of technology development, because we don’t want to create massive amounts of waste that we will have to deal with later.
We need to do a lot more for research, and really incentivize advancement on that front. I know that one of the things that I really appreciated about the Obama administration were a lot of the university-level research grants from the Department of Energy that went out to support things like battery production, energy storing capabilities, and related technology which will help advance electric vehicles.
So, I really think that we need to spend a lot more money on research, and need to roll back a lot of the problems created by the Trump administration, particularly in the EPA, and find ways to incentivize electric vehicle production, and not just for states like New York and California.
What I would say is also, for instance in the case of Tesla, them doing charging infrastructure development only really serves a limited group of electric vehicles, and not how it should be developing. That’s the kind of infrastructure which should be led at the federal level, and should be led with a lot of thought, like the way that we developed our US transportation system.
You mentioned the EPA, and the Trump administration actually rolled back roughly 100 environmental rules recently.
Income inequality seems to be another centerpiece of your campaign. I was interested if there is an overlap between that and climate-related issues?
Absolutely. What I saw in Puerto Rico, for instance, is that the people who are the hardest hit, are the people that have the fewest options. People who can’t go somewhere else. People who don’t have relatives with means to help them. Environmental deprivation and climate change compound issues of inequality.
The people who are hardest hit by this are statistically women, children, and seniors in vulnerable communities. In pretty much all of the examples that I mentioned: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, and Hurricane Maria, which I have researched and been engaged with in my professional life, in every case the people who are hardest hit are the people who suffer from the most inequality, are the most insecure in terms of our economy and housing. Even in terms of FEMA response, it has traditionally been much easier to get assistance if you own your home than if you rent, just as one example.
Where does climate policy fall on your list of priorities if you win this race against Nadler?
It’s right at the top. The two greatest issues of my community and our time are income inequality and climate change.
Recently, Sunrise NYC actually endorsed Rep. Nadler. What happened?
They didn’t actually endorse him, they said it was a guide. To your point, I think it was total BS that they said that. Unfortunately, power protects power, and based on my experience, typically for a lot of women running for office, endorsements simply enforce the power structures that we have. It’s really unfortunate that the Sunrise NYC people didn’t educate themselves in advance.
The congressman has taken money repeatedly for decades from the biggest logistic supply chains for corporations in this country. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in coal infrastructure support from various companies. CSX, to be specific, BSNF Railway, Norfolk Southern, etc.
Data and information from the Boylan campaign, verified by Harry Stoltz.
I was actually going to ask you about this, because money in politics is really the issue which affects all other issues.
Yeah, it absolutely is. As you’ve probably seen, Sunrise NYC is being absolutely silly for their choice, because they did not choose the progressive candidate who will actually act on climate change, and who hasn’t had two decades to do it with nothing to show. They even said that I had three investments in fossil fuel companies, which isn’t true, because my husband had three minor holdings in fossil fuel–related companies. It was never mine, and as soon as it was pointed out that he had those, he divested, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. I put very little credence in endorsements where people don’t even take the time to understand what they’re talking about.
There are several people who look down on the idea of primarying establishment Democrats in the Trump era. What’s your pitch against that?
Sure. The argument is usually “hey, so you seem really great, and really smart, but I’m focused on getting Republicans out.” Well, think about this like a sports game. There are different players for every position, and the fact that in my community we don’t have someone who even knows how to lead, and is just a follower is incredibly harmful to the entire movement. We don’t just need people to replace red/blue districts, we need quarterbacks for progressive change.
That is exactly what people like AOC are doing, what people like Pramila Jayapal are doing, like Ro Khanna, like Ayanna Pressley. We actually need people to lead on these things, and that happens to take place in blue districts, because we don’t have to worry about winning reelection, because they know that if they happen to do a good job, and if they lead on these important issues, they’ll get reelected. You can’t do that in a red/blue district, and you’ve got to do that in my district. And usually when I say that, people listen.