Testimony of Gloria Mattera at New York State Senate Hearing on Climate Change

Testimony by Gloria Mattera

Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation

Public Hearing to discuss the Climate and Community Protection Act

Thursday, February 14, 2019

New York City

Thank you for holding hearings for the public to give input on improving and strengthening the Climate and Community Protection Act.

My name is Gloria Mattera. I am a health care professional at a public hospital here that was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and co-chair of the Green Party of New York. I am here representing the Green Party, the political party that brought New York and the nation a Green New Deal that addresses the climate crisis in detail along with a comprehensive economic bill of rights. The Green Party of New York is a supporter of both the Off Fossil Fuels Act (A3565   OFF Act – A5105 / S5908) and the recently released Green New Deal for New York Act.(A5334/S2878A)

The CCPA as it is written now has some good provisions but is essentially the re-packaging of climate policies over the past few years with too long a time frame, not enough detail and too little monitoring of targets and progress. A plan based on out-dated targets will have New York standing still while extreme weather events and toxic emissions overtake us.

Unfortunately the current CCPA does not address fossil fuel infrastructure, which must be halted across the state. Allowing some building to continue will make it even harder to move to a fossil-free energy program. The Williams pipeline must not be approved.  You can't put a pipeline in New York Harbor while putting a few wind turbines in Long Island Sound and call that plan. You cannot ban fracking in New York but allow the import of tons of natural gas from neighboring states and call that a plan. You can't put a fracked gas power plant near the Hudson River and then some solar panels on brownfield in Brooklyn and call that a plan.

New York needs legislation that will immediately stop the building of all new fossil fuel infrastructure and a transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030. Others testifying will cite the science with more detail and command than myself. And I am confident that state legislators are aware of the startling facts presented by the science community over many years and the studies citing that the 2030 target is within reach.

What New York residents need to ask is why our government has not acted with an urgency that matches the climate emergency we are in?

Why has NYSERDA not even released a draft of the study done for two years on how fast New York can get to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030?

Why does the Governor's climate plan only addressing electricity when buildings and transportation are responsible for a higher percentage of carbon emissions?

We need a bill with clear regulations, time lines and bench marks that addresses all sources of carbon emissions and keeps progress on track. The plan must have a mechanism for monitoring progress, including an annual report to the Legislature. Let's not have another Build it Back debacle. The agencies involved must be legally bound to comply with the plan or inaction and inefficiency will rein.

Environmental justice and economic justice go hand in hand because the same drive for greed and profit exploits both people and planet. We need legislation that includes more detailed provisions on a Just Transition for workers and communities, especially frontline communities that have already been the victims of unchecked climate change and poor planning. Where the lack of safe, affordable housing and quality health care combined with the lion's share of fossil fuel infrastructure continue to have devastating effects on quality of life.

The State should move away from allowing the market to dictate the production and distribution of energy and support public / community ownership to accelerate the development and siting of large scale renewable energy systems at a lower cost. There needs to be a significant investment of public funds to take on this planetary emergency. The state should increase its support of Community Choice Aggregation and municipal utilities to enable local communities to democratically determine how their energy needs are met. Energy democracy is economic democracy.

This is an important step. We are here talking about implementing a climate plan instead of just speaking out against a pipeline, a gas-fueled power station or a train carrying toxic and dangerous substances. Now let's make this an important moment by enacting the strongest climate plan bill possible based on the current science that is also the most just climate bill for all the residents of New York.