Green Party Says NY Democrats Need to Act on Climate Before Adjourning

For Immediate Release

May 31, 2023

Green Party Says NY Democrats Need to Act on Climate Before Adjourning

The Green Party of New York is once again sounding the alarm that time is rapidly running out before global warming reaches the tipping point of no return. Party leaders call on the Governor and State Legislature to immediately enact a critical package of climate measures before adjourning on June 9th.

The NY HEAT Act, Climate Superfund, and the 100% Renewable Capitol bill are among the measures supported by the Green Party. The Greens faulted the Democrats for failing to have raised at least $10 billion annually in the recent budget for climate measures but noted that the legislature still has the authority to enact climate revenue proposals before starting their six-month vacation. The state estimates that $3 trillion will need to be invested by 2050 to transition to 100% clean renewable energy. The Greens have also long supported recapturing the $15 billion annually (some years) from the existing state stock transfer tax, with at least some of the funds dedicated to a Green New Deal.

The Green Party said that the handful of climate measures enacted in the recent budget is far short of the climate action needed to be taken. Scientists recently warned that they expect global warming to surpass the 1.5 degrees C target within the next five years – if not sooner. The United Nations has repeatedly issued a Code Red warning on climate change and said that governments are acting nowhere fast enough to avoid climate collapse.

“It was good that lawmakers agreed to halt gas in new buildings and authorized the NY Power Authority to build renewables. But the gas ban was the clearest recommendation for action by the Climate Action Council and the Democrats adopted a much slower timeline and excluded the 5 million or so existing buildings, unlike Local Law 97 in NYC. And Governor Cuomo had proposed having NYPA build renewables four years ago, but it was defeated by private developers after only a few climate groups like the Greens supported it. The proposal to decarbonize state buildings was significantly weakened, with no firm mandate and instead only a requirement for studies at 15 of the largest greenhouse gas emitters,” said Green Party co-chair Peter LaVenia.

The Green Party is one of many groups that successfully opposed Governor Cuomo and NYPA’s proposal to add two fracked gas turbines into the Sheridan Hollow Steam plant, which for more than a century has polluted a low-income community of color a mile from the Capitol buildings. As a next step, the Greens support the proposal for a three-year timeline to convert the nearby state buildings to 100% clean renewable energy, including the possibility of a central role for geothermal. The Party also believes that Sheridan Hollow needs to be one of the first neighborhoods to benefit from the new commitment to invest in disadvantaged communities.

“The State Capitol should be the icon that leads us quickly into a clean energy future. It would also show others how to do it cost-effectively with high climate and labor standards. And we need to turn rhetoric around EJ (Environmental Justice)  funding into real investments, starting with jobs and energy housing upgrades for Sheridan Hollow and similar communities,” said Mark Dunlea, a local organizer who is co-chair of the EcoAction Committee of the Green Party of the United States, as well as the author of Putting Out the Planetary Fire.

The Green Party, which has advocated for public power for decades, noted that the budget failed to actually mandate that NYPA build renewables and dropped a number of key measures that were in the Build Public Renewables Act. The Democrats failed to establish renewable energy mandates for the more than 50 existing public power systems in NYS; failed to reform the leadership and decision-making process of NYPA; and did not expand public power systems in the state. Nor did it address the need for public ownership and control of the antiquated grid transmission system in NY.

Like most environmental justice and climate groups, the Green Party has long advocated for a carbon tax to make polluters pay for the damage from climate change, rather than the cap-and-trade program (invest) that New York is pursuing. Historically, such cap-and-trade programs such as the state’s existing RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Inventory) program have failed to achieve the desired targets in emission reductions while frequently allowing pollution to continue – or even increase – in low-income areas and communities of color. The legislature has largely delegated the details of the program to the Hochul administration (DEC), even after the Governor unsuccessfully sought at the last moment to slash emission targets after she realized that putting a price on fossil fuels raises the price of such products. At a minimum, the Greens want the legislature to enact safeguards proposed by the NY Renews Coalition to protect EJ communities under cap-and-invest.

Climate advocates want state agencies, such as the Public Service Commission, to overhaul their policies and regulations to conform with the state’s climate law (CLCPA). A key proposal is the NY Home Energy Affordable Transition Act (S.2016/A.4592), which would eliminate over $200 million per year in subsidies for new gas hookups and ensure no household pays more than 6% of their income for energy. The Just Energy Transition Act (S.2935/A.9881 of 2022) would provide a plan to guide the replacement and redevelopment of New York State’s fossil fuel facilities and sites by 2030.

The Climate Change Superfund Act (S.2129/A.3351) would require companies, many multi-state/national, with the largest greenhouse gas emissions, to pay a total of $75 billion over twenty-five years ($3 billion annually). The bill is structured to prevent polluters from passing on the costs to consumers. The Stop Climate Polluter Handouts Act (S.3389/A.8483 of 2022) would end the most egregious state subsidies of $330 million to climate crisis contributors—the fossil fuel industry. 

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  • Sandy Przybylak
    published this page in Press Releases 2023-05-31 16:24:28 -0400