Prostitution-ring participant Eliot Spitzer has resigned as New York’s governor, leaving behind a not-too-shabby environmental legacy. As New York’s attorney general, he sued the Bush administration over various eco-issues, including greenhouse-gas emissions, mercury pollution and water guzzling from power plants, pesticide use in public housing, and efficiency standards for appliances.

Photo: ny.gov

Spitzer took plenty of polluters to court, too. Among his many victories, he forced six New York power plants to radically cut emissions that cause acid rain and smog. He was also the first attorney general to sue operators of coal-fired power plants in other states, arguing that their pollution blows into New York and contaminates the air breathed by his constituents.

Under Spitzer’s short reign as governor, New York saw plans for a wholesale farmer’s market in the Bronx and began to require “global warming index” stickers on new vehicles. Spitzer gave the governor’s mansion an eco-facelift and unveiled an energy plan aiming to cut electricity use in his state 15 percent by 2015.

The governorship now falls to Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, also a Democrat. Paterson is not so much in the eco-spotlight, but did chair a renewable-energy task force that laid out plans for meeting a quarter of New York’s energy needs through clean sources by 2013, and developing and supporting a green-collar workforce. Whether he’ll follow in Spitzer’s footsteps — the eco-aimed ones, not the ones treading a path to a prostitute’s door — remains to be seen.

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