Following Hurricanes, Groups Urge Cuomo to Speed up 100% Clean Energy, Halt Fossil Fuels
In the wake of a month of devastating hurricanes and other extreme weather fueled by global warming, more than 60 organizations today released a letter calling upon Governor Cuomo to support a transition to 100% clean, renewable energy as soon as possible.
The groups said it was imperative that the state immediately halt any investments in the future use of fossil fuels, including natural gas.
“Once again these hurricanes have highlighted that it is low-income communities and people of color that are most harmed by climate change. Puerto Rico, which Congress seems to sometimes forget is part of the U.S., is in a struggle for its very survival. The situation is also an environmental and human disaster in Florida and the Gulf Coast. New York must do a lot more a lot quicker to avoid catastrophic climate change,” said Mark Dunlea of the 100% Renewables Now NY campaign.
The groups noted that investing in clean energy would create living wage jobs and lower future energy costs while improving health by eliminating the air pollution from burning fossil fuels.
Earlier this year the Governor agreed to a request by the groups to do a scientific study of how fast New York could move to 100% clean energy. A study done by Cornell and Stanford professors as part of the campaign to convince the Governor to halt the fracking of natural gas showed that it was possible to do so by 2030. Several dozen legislators and more than 100 organizations are endorsing legislation to amend the State Energy Master Plan to adopt a goal of 100% clean energy by 2030.
The groups want the Governor to use the new study, a draft of which is expected from NYSERDA by the end of 2017, to develop a climate action plan to direct state action. The plan would need to include specific timetables, intermediate steps, and benchmarks.
“The Governor deserves credit for recognizing that climate change is real and is being fueled by burning fossil fuels. He has taken a number of positive steps but he has to speed it up. He has to say no across the board to fossil fuel projects, including his own proposal to install two new fracked-gas plants in a low-income neighborhood in Albany,” said Charley Bowman of the Environmental Justice Task Force of the WNY Peace Center, Inc.
“The Governor needs to quit pretending that there is a free market in energy, and stop waiting for it to materialize to solve the problem. Instead of vague goals, we need substantial investment and clear timelines to develop offshore wind, to solarize the state, to decarbonize our buildings and transportation and to embrace regenerative agriculture,” said Sue Hughes-Smith from the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition.
“Climate change is a real danger to New Yorkers and the nation, with every superstorm a tragic reminder of the need to get off fossil fuels,” said Eric Weltman, a Brooklyn-based senior organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Governor Cuomo can truly wear the mantle of climate leader if he adopts a goal of a 100 percent renewable energy New York by 2030.”
On Wednesday as part of Climate Action Week, Gov. Cuomo joined with California Governor Jerry Brown to announce that their 15-state US Climate Alliance were meeting the carbon emission goals set out by the Paris climate treaty. Unfortunately, climate scientists say that actions committed to by governments so far come nowhere close to preventing catastrophic change. Gov. Brown recently endorsed a study by the University of California of San Diego that concluded that there was a 20 to 30% chance that climate change would “wipe out human beings” by 2070. The groups noted that the national Democratic Party national platform calls for climate mobilization efforts comparable to what took place in WWII.
Dear Governor Cuomo:
We urge you to commit to transition to 100% clean renewable energy in New York State as fast as is humanly possible. We request that you select a specific target date with appropriate benchmarks and timeline of actions.
We would like the opportunity to discuss with you what the State should be doing on climate change.
Under your leadership, the state has made significant progress in recent years on responding to climate change. Unfortunately, it is nowhere fast enough to avoid climate chaos and catastrophe. The recent disaster from Hurricane Harvey – like Sandy and other prior numerous extreme weather events – underscore the dangers from delay on climate action. Hurricane Harvey flooding has been categorized as a 1000-year event. Two 500-year flooding events occurred in the previous two years.
We need a major paradigm shift to deal with the rapidity of these changes. The national platform of the Democratic Party calls for a climate mobilization similar to what we saw in WWII. In the coming decades we need to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, mass transit, regenerative agriculture and energy efficiency. We must halt the use of fossil fuels.
Moving to 100% clean energy is the path to full employment and economic prosperity rather than climate catastrophe that threatens humanities’ well-being. We need a climate justice agenda that provides clean energy, improves the public health, creates living wage jobs, promotes energy democracy and targets the most vulnerable communities. We need to ensure full and equitable participation by low and moderate income New Yorkers in our energy future. We look forward to the continued expansion of Community Choice Aggregation to give local residents democratic control over their energy supplies.
We applauded your decision in this year’s State of the State to conduct a study of how fast it is scientifically possible to transition to 100% clean energy for electricity, heating and cooling, transportation, and other energy needs. Legislation has been introduced to achieve such a goal by 2030 (A5105, S5908, list of endorsing groups) which we hope you will support. We look forward to a world-class study that sets a benchmark for the rest of the world. We encourage your administration to provide funding to ensure adequate participation by leading academics and grassroots climate change organizations.
Moving to 100% clean energy (not natural gas, not nuclear, not biomass) also means halting the development of any additional fossil fuel infrastructure, from gas pipelines to compressor stations to power plants to your proposed co-generation projects for the Empire State Plaza in Albany. The state should divest itself from funding of the fossil fuel industry (A3712 / S4596). We need to hold polluters responsible for the damage they have caused and to stop such damage moving forward.
We urge that the Offshore Wind (OSW) Master Plan being developed by NYSERDA reflects a goal of obtaining a significant amount (e.g., 40%) of the state’s energy from OSW and that firm commitments are established for the funding and purchase of OSW (e.g., 5,000 MW by 2025 and 10,000 MW by 2030). NY needs to attract the infrastructure investment that makes us the home of the OSW industry in the US. The state also needs to examine the potential for OSW in the Great Lakes.
All parts of the state’s energy system need a more ambitious blueprint. We need increased incentives for the development of solar (as opposed to the premature move away from net metering for solar farms). The state should provide the upfront financing to install solar on all public buildings, with the costs recovered through lower energy costs. We need more publicly and community owned renewable energy systems. You should commit to achieving the goals of the Green Jobs – Green NY program to energy retrofit hundreds of thousands of residences while creating living wage jobs. Energy efficiency must become a priority. The state must provide more leadership and assistance (including financial) to local governments in the siting and development of renewable energy.
We need major increases in funding for mass transit, staring with the MTA but also to create effective systems throughout the state. Trains, buses, bicycles and walking need to replace cars and trucks as our main forms of transportation. The state should immediately move to a 100% no carbon emission transportation fleet and should establish a short term deadline (10 to 15 years) for all such vehicles (100% electric or no carbon emissions) in the state. We need to speed up the development of electric recharging stations.
We need to overhaul the state’s building codes to create net zero carbon emissions buildings. We need to require energy retrofits of existing buildings. We need to promote heat pumps for cooling and heating along with active and passive solar. We need to effectively confront urban sprawl.
Your recent climate executive order directed state agencies to develop action plans by March 2018. Your administration should also produce an overall Climate Action Plan as required by prior EOs starting in 2009.
The 2017-18 state budget include some initial investments in regenerative agriculture to put carbon back into the soil. This needs to be significantly expanded. The state must provide leadership in upgrading our food system to deal with changing weather patterns.
We support the allocation of 40% of climate funding to meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents, workers and impacted communities. We need to ensure we provide jobs for those presently employed in the fossil fuel industry.
We need to help communities take steps to adapt to climate change. As Sandy and Harvey highlighted, we need to protect essential infrastructure such as power generation, water and waste treatment. We need to avoid construction in expanding flood zones. We need to ensure that flooding avoids becoming toxic disasters,
We request that your state budget allocates significant dollars to mitigation, adaptation and emergency preparedness. The NYS Energy Plan documented that the State would be spending approximately $10 billion annually from damages associated with climate change by mid-century. Prevention, therefore, must be high on the agenda with appropriate spending levels by involved agencies in order to avoid climate disaster.
We looking forwarding to working with you and your administration to have our state at the forefront of the worldwide effort to avoid climate disruption and instead create a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.
|All Our Energy||Point Lookout|
|Alliance for a Green Economy||Syracuse|
|Bronx Climate Justice North||Bronx|
|Campaign for Renewable Energy||Ithaca|
|Central Park West CSA||New York|
|Church Women United in New York State||Rochester|
|Citizens Environmental Coalition||Albany|
|Code Pink Long Island, Women for Peace||Northport|
|Committee to Preserve the finger Lakes||Branchport|
|Compressor Free Franklin||Franklin|
|D&G Gardening and Renewable Energy||Schenectady|
|Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt||New Rochelle|
|Empire State Progressives||Brooklyn|
|Environment New York||New York|
|Environmental Justice Task Force of the WNY Peace Center, Inc||Buffalo NY|
|Food & Water Watch||Brooklyn|
|Fossil Free Tompkins||Ithaca|
|Gas Free Seneca||Watkins Glen|
|Green Education and Legal Fund||Poestenkill|
|Green Party of New York||New York|
|Greening USA||Diane Brandli|
|Harlem Climate Caucus||NYC|
|Hudson Valley Green Party||Town of Shawangunk|
|Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition||Cortlandt Manor|
|Jewish Climate Action Network NYC||New York City|
|Judson Memorial Church||New York City|
|North American Climate,Conservation and Environment(NACCE)||Roosevelt|
|Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY)||Farmington|
|Nuclear Age Peace Foundation||New York|
|NY Buddhist Climate Action Network||New York|
|NY Indivisible||New York City|
|NYC Friends of Clearwater||NYC|
|Occupy Bergen County||Teaneck|
|Peace Action New York State||New York|
|Peoples Climate Movement NY||Brooklyn|
|Residents Allied for the Future of Tioga||Owego|
|Rochester People’s Climate Coalition||Rochester|
|SCRAM – Sullivan County Residents Against Millennium||Sullivan|
|Sisters of Mercy||Rochester|
|Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester Justice & Peace & Global Environment Committee||Rochester|
|Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, Justice Office||Rochester|
|Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipelines||Schodack|
|Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development||Bethel|
|The Climate Mobilization NYC||New York|
|TriStates Unite for Safe Energy||New Hampton|
|United for Action||New York|
|Voters Occupy||New York|
|WESPAC Foundation||White Plains|
|WNY Drilling Defense||Buffalo NY|