Legislators, Advocates Launch Bill to Move New York Off Fossil Fuels
A bold new campaign, backed by almost 100 groups, aims to move state to 100% renewable energy by the year 2030
ALBANY, NY– Legislators and advocates announced today New York’s most ambitious legislation to combat climate change. Joined by environmental leaders, Assembly Members William Colton, Richard Gottfried, Phil Steck, and Jamie Williams urged the legislature to move the Empire State off fossil fuels by passing Assemblymember Colton and Senator Holyman’s bill (A5105 / S5908) to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
With climate chaos already wreaking havoc across the planet, legislators demanded that New York take swift action to slash greenhouse gas emissions and embrace a real plan to transition to 100% renewable energy.
“Converting our current fossil fuel energy system to renewable clean energy is crucial to a livable future. Not only do we need to switch to renewable energy, but we need to do so swiftly and boldly. We need the cooperation of our state and local officials to commit to 100% renewable clean energy now before the consequences grow more urgent,” said Assembly Member William Colton. “Already, air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels and exacerbated by global warming and climate change causes millions of deaths globally and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on healthcare annually. The increasing trend of catastrophic weather and its costly damages are also heavily correlated to global warming. The list of negative consequences only grows more extensive and complicated to solve. It is our responsibility to address these issues and work towards eliminating them while we still can.”
Senator Brad Hoylman, said: “As we saw most recently with Hurricane Irma, global climate change is a looming catastrophe for our planet. Faced with a federal Administration and an EPA controlled by climate deniers, it’s up to states and cities to take the lead in this fight. Time is of the essence; we cannot willfully ignore the danger posed by our changing climate. That’s why I’m proud to join Assemblymember Colton, Green Education and Legal Fund, Food and Water Watch, and NOFA-NY in calling for immediate passage of our bill, S5908/A5105, that sets New York on the ambitious path to 100% clean renewable energy.”
The legislation would also ban new oil and gas pipelines and power plants, such as a proposed gas-fired plant to power the Capitol complex and the Williams Pipelines off the Rockaways. In the wake of New York’s fracking ban, projects that transport and burn fracked fossil fuels still threaten the state’s water, communities, and climate.
“By promoting clean energy sources like solar and wind power and reducing our reliance on oil and gas, the ‘New York Off Fossil Fuels Act’ establishes a path for New York to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2032. It’s an ambitious challenge that New York can and should meet, not only to help preserve our environment but also to position us as a leader in the rapidly expanding field of renewable energy,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.
The legislation covers all energy uses, including transportation and the heating and cooling of buildings. It would require the state and local governments to develop detailed climate action plans with benchmarks and timelines to meet specific goals. The state is expected to release a study requested by the campaign showing how quickly the state could move to 100% clean energy.
“I am proud to say that we buy wind power to provide electricity at our house and that I drive a Chevy Volt that gets 120 miles per gallon,” said Assemblymember Phil Steck. “Clean energy is here and ready to be used for the benefit of our planet. Further, investment in clean energy creates jobs.”
More than 120 organizations have endorsed the goal of 100% clean energy by 2030 and the legislation has previously been sponsored by several dozen state legislators. Amendments to the current bill have been submitted to strengthen provisions related to assisting workers and impacted communities, including a focus on environmental justice.
Advocates say today marks the beginning of a massive new statewide campaign demanding a rapid and just transition to 100% renewable energy. Nearly 100 organizations, from Buffalo to Long Island, have joined the campaign.
“With signs of the climate crisis all around us, it’s never been clearer that we must take bold action to move off fossil fuels. And with no real prospect of progress at the federal level, New York simply cannot settle for half measures or empty rhetoric any longer. Today, we’re excited to launch a bold new campaign urging the legislature and Governor Cuomo to walk the talk on climate change by passing this legislation to move us off fossil fuels by 2030,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch.
“The threats posed by climate change continue to accelerate like a McLaren F-1, meanwhile our state’s energy policy is moving at the speed of a horse and buggy. New York must combat climate change on all fronts by stopping the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, banning all practices supporting fracking, and stopping the use of fossil-fuel based automobiles,” said Eric Wood, NYPIRG’s Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator. “New York must get off fossil fuels immediately. By increasing energy efficiency, lowering our energy demand, and investing in clean, safe, renewable energy, New York can lead the nation and reach 100% renewable energy by 2030.”
“We want to thank Assemblymember Colton for his leadership on climate justice. Last fall’s extreme weather with hurricanes and wildfires highlighted the growing threat posed by climate change. We need a society-wide mobilization to transition to 100% clean years in years, not decades. And we must begin with a halt to any further build out of fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas since methane is 80 times more potent short-term as a greenhouse gas than carbon. We need New York to set concrete goal with clear timelines and benchmarks. After 15 years of effort, New York has managed to only get 3% of our electricity from wind and solar. That is nowhere near enough,” said Mark Dunlea, Chairperson of the Green Education and Legal Fund and a recent member of the 350NYC Steering Committee.
“New York State stands on the threshold of decisive climate leadership,” said Steve Breyman, Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Either we push now with all we have to help stabilize the climate, to do our bit in a concerted global effort, or we rue the day we missed this historic opportunity to safeguard our communities, generate green jobs, and avoid catastrophe.”
“The proposed fracked natural gas microgrid in the Sheridan Hollow/ESP of Albany NY must not be allowed to be implemented. Not only does the proposal go in the opposite direction from the Governor’s Statewide goals to achieve 50% renewable electric power by 2030 and reduction of 80% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; but it subjects Sheridan Hollow residents to additional toxic emissions after this environmental justice community has already been subjected to disproportionate carcinogens from 1911 to the present,” said Merton D. Simpson, Albany County Legislator, District 2. “Toxic emissions were exacerbated by burning garbage between 1981 and 1994. There are still daily toxic emissions which need to be eliminated as soon as possible by maximizing the use of renewable energy, preferably by use of geothermal heat pump and thermal storage technology.”
“New meteorological research says thunderstorms are growing in size, rain intensity and frequency. These changes are driven our burning fossil fuels which cause climate change. Each of these super-charged thunderstorms will deluge areas of New York State with a rainfall volume-increase equal to six times the discharge of the Hudson River. Such ‘rain bombs’ will cause localized flooding on a scale seen never before. The only solution to this upcoming disaster is to stop burning fossil fuels and build out our renewable energy infrastructure in all sectors — electrical energy production, transportation and heating/cooling — as soon as possible. A5105/S5908 will do this. Let’s get on with it now!” said Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center.
“Governor Cuomo wants us to believe that he will be a champion for climate action.,” said Sue Hughes-Smith of the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition. “He has issued an executive order to achieve 50% renewable energy in our electric supply by 2030, even though climate science tells us this goal is too weak if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The people of New York need true leadership on climate action, and the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition urges our legislators to step up to the task.”
“It is way past the time for New York politicians to take bold legislative action to end fossil fuel dependency by 2030 with a complete transition to 100% clean, renewable energy,” said Gloria Mattera, co-chair, Green Party of New York. “The logical and just next step after the fracking ban is to halt any projects or plan to build fossil fuel infrastructure in our communities. The Green Party of New York supports the Senate and Assembly bills as a step towards enacting a Green New Deal that will mitigate the effects of climate change, save money and create millions of climate jobs. Let’s keep the pressure on the Governor to take the lead on 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.”
“It is mandatory for New York to get off fossil fuels and achieve 100% clean energy by 2030. Each time a climate report comes out our situation is worse than the scientists have predicted. Proposing a new fracked gas plant in Sheridan Hollow tells us that the Governor still doesn’t understand our situation. ‘NO’ to any new fossil fuel infrastructure and ‘YES’ to renewable energy sources (which also create many more jobs) are the only sensible options,” said Sandy Steubing for PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy)
Elizabeth Henderson, Policy Committee co-chair of NOFA-NY, stated: “By shunning synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, fossil fuel derivatives, organic farmers already contribute to reducing the energy used in farming by 30%, but they want to do more. At the 2018 Annual Meeting, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) voted to support the shift to renewable energy with all possible speed.”
The New York bill is one of four state bills across the country introduced this year modeled on the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act, or OFF Act, a federal bill introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Like the OFF Act, the New York bill mandates a rapid clean energy transition that excludes dirty forms of “renewable” energy like incineration and biogas, while prioritizing environmental justice and protections for displaced fossil fuel workers.