Mayor calls for 1M trees, congestion tax on Earth Day

THE BRONX - Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC) celebrated Earth Day by announcing a plan Sunday to help the Bronx and the city "go green."

Bloomberg's proposal includes planting 1 million trees by 2017 to cool temperatures and reduce air pollution. The mayor also wants to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent over the next 20 years. Bloomberg is calling for financial incentives for energy-efficient builders.

His most controversial plan involves charging truck drivers $21 and car drivers $8 to enter below 86th Street on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The major thruways along Manhattan's east and west sides would remain free.

Commuters who already pay a toll to come into Manhattan via bridges and tunnels would pay the price of the new fee minus the previous toll. A network of cameras, rather than toll booths, would capture license plate numbers to either charge a driver's existing commuter account or generate a bill for each trip.

The commuter congestion plan, inspired by a similar program started by England in 2003, requires state approval. However, some lawmakers equate it to another tax on the middle class. U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-9th District) blasts the city for "attacking" those who do not live in Manhattan.

AP wire reports contributed to this report.

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