Climate Groups tell Tonko to Oppose Fossil Fuels

Climate Groups Want Tonko to Be a Climate Champion, Say No to Fossil Fuels

Want Congressmember to remove False Solutions from his Climate Bill

Capital District climate groups observed Earth Day with a Rising Tide rally of 50 people in front of Congressmember Paul Tonko’s office in Albany, urging him to be a climate champion and support a halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure.

“Fossil fuels are killing the planet. We have to stop using them. Now. Rising Tides threaten our future and right now it is the poor and people of color who bear the most pain. That has to end. Tonko needs to fight to halt all new fossil fuel infrastructure and fracking nationwide,” said Mark Dunlea of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy). Dunlea is also co-chair of the EcoAction Committee of the Green Party of the United State.

The groups want FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Committee) to reverse its position and halt new pipelines and plants while taking a leadership role in developing clean renewable energy as quickly as possible.

Speakers at the event included: Mark Dunlea of PAUSE and Green Education and Legal Fund;); Grace Nichols and Lynne Jackson of Save the Pine Bush; Alexis Goldsmith of Lights out Norlite and Beyond Plastics; Julie Farrar, ADAPT; Christine Primomo of the Clean Air Coalition; Eric Wellman, Food & Water Watch; Leo Bachinger, Friends of the Mahicantuck; and Mark Schaeffer, PAUSE.

The groups demanded that Tonko remove what they called false solutions from the CLEAN Futures Act which he is co-sponsoring as Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. The groups want Tonko to remove support in the bill for garbage incineration, carbon capture technology, renewable gas, biomass and nuclear.

“We have little time left to solve climate change and we can’t waste resources or time on bandaids, incrementalism and false solutions. Our goal should be 100% clean renewables for electricity by 2030 and for everything else shortly thereafter. Proposals for net-zero emissions by 2050 lead to climate collapse,” stated Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund. Dunlea noted that at the present rate of greenhouse gas emissions the world will use up its carbon budget in 7 years.

“Representative Tonko’s CLEAN Future Act is neither clean nor forward looking, pushing a climate and energy plan that will keep us hooked on fossil fuels, while propping up false climate solutions like carbon capture technology,” said Eric Weltman, a New York Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “As chair of the House Subcommittee on the environment and climate, we need him to support a rapid and just transition off fossil fuels, not double down on false solutions,” added Weltman.

“Congressmember Paul Tonko has introduced a bill that provides federal tax credits for garbage incinerators. This is shocking and bad for our health and the environment. Doesn’t he remember all of the problems with the Albany ANSWERS incinerator in Arbor Hill? If Congressmember Tonko is serious about environmental justice and climate change issues, he would immediately remove that provision from his bill,” said Alexis Goldsmith of Beyond Plastics.

The groups said that Biden was a welcomed replacement of Trump. While Biden has shown a willingness to push climate action, he needed to be much bolder, especially in standing up to fossil fuel companies and cutting emissions. They had hoped that he would have used his climate summit to announce a National Commitment for emissions reductions by 2030 to be much closer to 100% than the 50% he agreed to. Europe just announced a 55% cut target. (See statements by Friends of Earth and Green Party.)

The groups also want a much larger green infrastructure stimulus, with a stronger climate focus, than the $2 trillion over 8 years proposed by Biden. Various climate coalition are calling for a $1 trillion up to $4 trillion a year green climate economic stimulus for a decade. They want a strong Just Transition and EJ (environmental justice component). Speakers emphasized that the struggle for racial justice, to an end to the oppression of many people and communities, was an integral part climate justice struggle.

Several young individuals raised the need for urgent action to give them a chance for a decent future. Biden needs to use his Executive Powers to formally declare a climate emergency and launch an all-out mobilization of national resources.

” We are asking Paul Tonko to push back on Big Oil and put a stop to building new fossil fuel infrastructure. Climate Change is not waiting until the year 2050. It is happening right now. The time to act and get serious about green infrastructure and sustainability was 5 decades ago. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” said Tatianna Moragne of the Upper Hudson Green Party in a statement issued prior to the event.