100s Rally at State of Climate

Cuomo Urged to be National Climate Leader in 2016
Groups Urge Him to Support 100% Renewables, Off Shore Wind in SOS
Time to End Fossil Fuel Era – Stop pipelines, other infrastructure, oil bomb trains

Analysis of State of the climate here.

(Albany, NY) Climate change activists held a State of the Climate rally and march today at the Capitol to urge Governor Cuomo to commit to 100% renewable energy and to announce the end of the fossil fuel era in New York.

The themes of the rally were:  Rapid action on climate change; support 100% Renewables Now; Climate Justice; Living Wage Jobs, and a Just Transition.

There are numerous pipelines and fossil fuel projects under construction or proposed that climate activists want the state to halt. They also want the state to commit to ensure a Just Transition, ensuring that the needs and voices of those most impacted by climate change are addressed. In Albany, oil bomb trains carrying Bakken Crude pass within feet of low-income neighborhoods on a daily basis.

Groups want the Governor to increase funding and support for renewable energy, especially the stalled development of offshore wind. They want him to adopt a legally binding, comprehensive state climate action plan with benchmark and timelines; and invest in need infrastructure (e.g., charging stations for electric vehicles.)

“We want New York to replace California as a world leader on climate change. The City of San Diego recently announced a goal of going to 100% renewable energy by 2035. We would like New York to match if not better that goal. What is really missing is a commitment to offshore wind,” noted Mark Dunlea of the 100% Renewables Now NY campaign.

Advocates are urging the Governor to support a Power Purchase Agreement for 5,000 MW of offshore wind (OSW) by 2025 and 10,000 megawatts by 2030. The federal government says its top priority for OSW development is off Long Island.

Groups want the Governor to use his regulatory authority to halt the construction of additional fossil fuel infrastructure in New York, including a slew of proposed oil and gas pipelines, compressor stations, power plants and storage facilities. They want a halt to the oil bomb trains, barges and pipelines bringing Bakken crude oil into and through the state.

“We need to simultaneously stop fossil fuel infrastructure and promote renewable energy resources to maintain a livable planet. If we don’t stop fossil fuels we’ll have less incentive to create renewables. If we don’t promote renewables, people will wonder if we can live without fossil fuels. We’ve had a war on poverty and a war on drugs, now we need a war to save our environment. If we put the same resources and energy into defeating global warming that we did in winning World War II, we’d be at 100% renewables in no time,” said Becky Meier of Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline.

“New York needs a Green New Deal — an all-out mobilization for 100% clean energy by 2030 at the latest. Public Power is how we will get Solar Power. We need a publicly-owned energy system that is operated democratically for public benefit — not for private profit. We need Energy Democracy,” said Howie Hawkins of the Green Party.

Scores of New York residents have been arrested in recent months to block the construction of local fossil fuel projects, including actor James Cromwell at the CVP plant in Orange County and Prof. Sandra Steingraber at the Seneca Lake LNG facility, both of whom spoke at the State of the Climate rally.

“The Governor has a choice to make. He can shred New York’s forests and wetlands with pipelines, sicken New York families with compressor station emissions, and turn Seneca Lake into a giant fracked gas storage tank, thereby risking another Aliso Canyon gas leak disaster in the heart of wine country. Or he can build on his climate legacy—begun with his bold decision to ban fracking—and declare a curfew on further fossil fuel build-out in New York State, which is what both the scientific evidence and the Paris Climate Agreement require,” said Sandra Steingraber of We Are Seneca Lake, a co-sponsor of the State of the Climate rally and march.

Three members of the Wawayanda 6, who were arrested after locking themselves together last month to protest the CPV Valley Energy Project, a 650 gas power plant now under construction in Orange County, participated in the rally.

“The residents of New York, our natural resources, and all sentient beings that depend on these resources, are facing unprecedented peril from ever-expanding gas infrastructure. Despite the ban on fracking and the Governor’s announced renewable energy goals of 50% renewable by 2030, our states current energy policies are largely predicated on the expanded use, transportation, and dependence on fracked gas. The rhetoric of the state’s energy policy does not reflect the brick and mortar reality currently under way. The CPV Valley Power plant, a 650 MW gas plant, now under construction in Orange County, approved and facilitated by Governor Cuomo, is a demonstration of the state’s actual intent. It will use fracked gas from Pennsylvania for the New York’s wholesale energy market.  The magnitude of the environmental, public health, and climate change impacts of fracking render this project and policy incoherent and incomprehensible,” said James Cromwell, one of the arrestees.

Pramilla Malick, Chair of Protect Orange County, who was also arrested, explained that “each new power plant carries with it hundreds of miles of pipelines along with compressor stations, metering stations, and fracking wells; all posing an existential threat to frontline communities and our climate.  Projects like CPV will lock us into fossil fuel dependency for 30 years.“

“Governor Cuomo has mandated a renewable future for NYS. If his intentions are authentic, then we have to halt the buildout of gas infrastructure and start building wind and community owned solar,” said Kim Fraczek, Co-Director of Sane Energy Project.

“Every day the oil industry sends millions of gallons of highly flammable, dangerous crude shale oil through our cities, towns and backyards.  Our railroad was not built for this, our families, communities and environment should not be put in harm’s way for corporate America to profit. Citizen Action of New York stands with our brothers and sisters in the South End of Albany and throughout the state against oil trains that go “boom”, said Julia Caro, Deputy Campaigns Director of Citizen Action.

Many groups are calling the Constitution Pipeline Cuomo’s Keystone moment. The 121 mile pipeline to move fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County needs a water quality certification from DEC. Groups are drafting state legislation to halt the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

While the Governor has won praise for supporting the expansion of renewable energy, the recently adopted state energy plan promotes a major expansion of “cheap” natural gas in the state. Methane however is 87 times more potent short term as a greenhouse gas that carbon dioxide. Groups also oppose his bail out of coal and nuclear plants.

The groups urge the Governor – and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli – to build upon recent steps in California, Vermont and NYC and to divest the state pension funds from fossil fuels. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating Exxon for deceiving the public, elected officials and investors about climate change.

“ExxonMobil has knowingly concealed findings since the 80’s about its harmful climate impact while simultaneously funding a major misinformation campaign, jeopardizing the future of generations to come. Yet we shamefully still hold over a billion dollars of Exxon in our New York State Pension Funds. Why are we continuing to fund climate change, when those investments have lost billions over the last few years? We need to put that money towards an urgent and just transition to 100% renewable energy,” said Lyna Hinkel of 350NYC.

Speakers at the rally included Mark Dunlea, 100% Renewables Now NY, GELF; Kim Fraczek, Sane Energy Project; Becky Meier, Stop NY Frack Gas Pipeline; Suzy Winkler, People, Not Pipelines, Dominick Casolaro, PAUSE; As. Felix Ortiz; Matt Ryan, ALIGN; Julia Caro, Citizen Action; Sandra Steingraber, We Are Seneca Lake; Suzanne Hunt, NYS Sustainable Business Council, HuntGreen LLC; Lyna Hinkel, 350NYC; Howie Hawkins, Green Party; and, James Cromwell and Pramilla Malick, STOPMCS.

The rally and march were sponsored by: 100% Renewables Now NY, 350NYC, Peoples Climate Movement NY, PAUSE, Sane Energy Project, Bronx Climate Justice North, Green Education and Legal Fund, NYS Sustainable Business Council, Green Party, Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, Grassroots Environmental Education, Stop NY Gas Fracked Pipeline, Food and Water Watch, United for Action, NYC Friends of Clearwater, Citizen Action of NY, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, WESPAC, We Are Seneca Lake, Gas Free Seneca, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, Fossil Free Tompkins.

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