Groups Call for Bold Climate Action in Albany
While Cuomo claims climate bill won’t pass this session, over 150 groups demand swift transition to 100% renewables, ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure
While Governor Cuomo continues to pour cold water on the chances that the legislature will pass a climate bill before the end of the session, 171 organizations from across the state have signed onto a letter to the governor and state lawmakers calling for a bold approach to attacking the climate crisis.
The letter, initiated by Food & Water Watch and the Green Education and Legal Fund, calls for a bill that would ban new fossil fuel infrastructure and transition the state to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030.
The call for a ban on new fossil infrastructure is particularly important in light of proposals for new pipelines and power plants that transport and burn fracked gas, including the Williams pipeline in New York Harbor and the Danskammer power plant in Newburgh, as well as a power plant in Dover already under construction.
The groups also advise that any climate legislation should include robust just transition policies that commit 40 percent of funds to disadvantaged communities, and require enforceable and detailed plans at the state and local levels, with two-year benchmarks and annual reviews.
The letter also stipulates that any bill should not rely on “carbon neutral” standards, which could justify market schemes, offsets, dirty biofuels, nuclear power, and carbon sequestration. There are reports that negotiations in Albany may lead to the adoption of “net zero” standards instead of straight-forward emissions reduction policies.
Groups signing onto the letter include New York Communities for Change, 350.org, NYPIRG, Mothers Out Front – Tompkins, Bronx Climate Justice North, Friends of the Earth U.S., WESPAC Foundation, Green Party of New York, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Peoples Climate Movement-NY, and Surfrider Foundation’s New York City and Eastern Long Island chapters.
“The IPCC has warned political leaders that they must immediately take bold action if we are to have a chance to save life as we know it on this planet. There is no other issue before the state legislature that is as urgent as adopting the boldest climate plan possible. We need to dramatically ramp up the speed of New York’s transition to renewable energy while immediately halting any new fossil fuel projects. Delay and bandaids are not acceptable,” stated Mark Dunlea, Chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund.
“Lawmakers shouldn’t leave Albany without taking bold action to prevent climate change. New York’s cities and coastlines are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, which should make this a priority for lawmakers across the state,” said Food & Water Watch volunteer Joe Varon and constituent of Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chair of the Senate’s Environment Committee. “New York has banned fracking and stopped several fracked gas pipelines, and that’s a great start. Now is the time to make New York the nation’s leader in the fight to move off fossil fuels.”
“When I was just 12 years old, I saw firsthand the devastation of climate change when Hurricane Sandy slammed our Lillian Wald NYCHA development, pushing me and my family to relocate for several days,” said Kevin Spalding, NYCHA resident and New York Communities for Change member. “Seven years later, and I’m wondering what my future looks like if New York state doesn’t pass strong legislation to stop all fossil fuel projects like Williams, and rapidly move us to 100% renewables. Besides, I know a bunch of people in Lillian Wald Houses who could really benefit from good, green jobs, like right now! Governor Cuomo needs to pass major climate legislation before Albany closes up shop in two weeks.”
Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director for NYPIRG said, “Governor Cuomo and the Legislature must heed the call coming from young people in our state and country – we need to achieve 100% renewable energy and zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to avoid catastrophe. The latest science has made clear that the need to act rapidly is dire. Any delay to pass the strongest climate legislation puts New York’s future in jeopardy – the Governor and the Legislature must pass strong climate legislation before the end of the legislation session.”
“Thousands of people lost their homes in the wake of Superstorm Sandy as a result of poor preparation in dealing with the climate crisis we are facing. Strong action in fighting climate change is still lacking, as New York has been continuing to kick the can down the road for seven years,” said Joey Naham, Chairperson of the Nassau County Green Party and constituent of Senator Todd Kaminsky. “We urge the Legislature to pass, and Governor Cuomo to sign, the New York Off Fossil Fuels Act—A3565/S5266. Championing this strong climate bill will demonstrate New York’s true progressivism and integrity in tackling the rapidly advancing climate catastrophe our State and the planet is facing.”
Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center in Buffalo said, “Climate scientists are telling us we only have a few years to act to substantially reduce our carbon emissions. The Sixth Great Extinction is already underway, and it’s working its way up the food chain. We need the strongest possible climate bill to address this existential problem. The OFF Act (A3565/S5266) is strongest climate bill now under consideration. I urge the state legislature and Governor Cuomo to support it.”
“Earth to Albany: I’m on fire. Physics and chemistry cannot be bargained with,” said Jennifer Scarlott, Coordinator, Bronx Climate Justice North. “Politics as usual, involving delay, quid pro quos, bargaining, and accommodations for the fossil fuel industry, have the potential to destroy much of life as you know it. You must take the only realistic course, and pass, before June 19, the strongest possible climate emergency legislation for New York that sets an example to the country at large, and gives hope to frontline communities not just in New York but around the world. Pass climate legislation that includes a shift to a 100% renewable energy economy by 2030 or sooner, a permanent ban on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and vigorous just transition provisions. Anything short of this will not only bring shame on Albany for its lack of climate leadership, it will help lock in physical phenomena that human beings have just a few short years to reverse. You must act now. Science demands it.”
“2050 is too late. We need strong leadership from Governor Cuomo and the legislature which does not pander to the fossil fuel industry’s propaganda that renewable energy can’t replace fossil fuels,” said Diana Wright, coordinator at PAUSE (People of Albany United for Sustainable Energy). “We put a man on the moon in 10 years starting from zero. We already have much of the technology we need to transition to 100% renewable energy. We have 11 years to do that. The clock is ticking.”
“We have called, written, testified, marched, and lobbied to get the NY State legislature to take aggressive action on our current climate emergency. It is now time for our representatives in Albany–the governor and our legislators in both houses–to demonstrate strong leadership on this issue and deliver legislation that puts us on a fast path to 100% renewables and bans new fossil fuel projects like pipelines and fracked gas power plants.” said Iris Hiskey Arno of Indivisible CD16 and a constituent of Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins.
“The WESPAC Community wants New York to be a real leader in the movement to transform our economy off fossil fuels and into the future with safe, renewable and non-polluting energy.” said Nada Khader, Executive Director of WESPAC, a Westchester-based progressive organization. “We need to stop fossil fuel infrastructure now to truly make this transition and help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change that are facing us. Our water, air and soil quality is at stake and so are our lives.”
Text of Letter
June 10, 2019
Dear Governor Cuomo & Legislators,
The undersigned organizations urge you to pass legislation as bold and ambitious as necessary to meet the challenge of preventing climate change.
Most importantly, we call upon you to approve a bill that would ban new fossil fuel infrastructure and transition New York to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030.
Over five years ago, New York made the historic decision to ban fracking. Unfortunately, since that time, our state has contended with an onslaught of proposals for pipelines and power plants that transport and burn fracked gas, maintaining our reliance on dirty fossil fuels. It is counter-productive, dangerous, and, frankly, foolish, to build new fossil fuel infrastructure at at time when we need to rapidly move off fossil fuels and build clean renewable energy.
In addition to banning new fossil fuel infrastructure and transitioning New York to 100 percent clean renewable energy, climate legislation must ensure a just and equitable transition to clean energy by:
- Placing environmental justice front and center by committing 40 percent of climate funds to disadvantaged communities, and ensuring meaningful input and analysis of climate plans by members of environmental justice communities
- Providing for a Just Transition, with jobs and wages for existing workers and impacted communities and labor standards and prevailing wage requirements for renewable energy projects
- Not relying on plans focused on “carbon neutrality,” which could justify offsets, dirty biofuels, nuclear power, and carbon sequestration
- Giving the public the right to sue to enforce climate plans
- Requiring enforceable detailed climate plans at the state and local levels, with two-year benchmarks and annual review and updates
We urge you to make New York a true climate leader by passing legislation as strong as necessary to prevent catastrophe.
To follow up, please contact Eric Weltman at Food & Water Watch (firstname.lastname@example.org; 347-778-2743) or Mark Dunlea at the Green Education and Legal Fund (email@example.com; 518-860-3725).