Testimony of Joseph Naham at New York State Senate Hearing on Climate Change

Remarks on behalf of the Beach To Bay Civic Association at the February 15, 2019 Climate Hearing in Mineola

My name is Joseph Naham and I am co-chair of the Environmental Committee of The Beach to Bay Civic Association. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on how to strengthen the CCPA (Climate and Community Protection Act CCPA: A3876 / S2292) and to enact the best climate legislation possible.

I have to share and introduce those who don’t know about the barrier beach where our organization is located. We have a train station, we are in a direct flight path from JFK Airport, and La Guardia airport. There are three bridges, and one train trestle. Our sewage treatment plant has only a primary and secondary phase of treatment. That is dated to the reactionary management following cholera outbreaks in 1855 across the ocean, and the second phase is from 1960. The secondary treatment is incapable of filtering out household cleaners, and industrial chemicals, toxins, pharmaceuticals, and dioxins. The plan seems to always be a plan to react after a calamity occurs.  Our aquifer is critically compromised due to lack of conservation and salt water intrusion. In only a hundred and 10 plus years our city has been completely carved away from its roots of horseback powered carriages, to four cars per family with nowhere for even two of those vehicles to park six months of the year. The island was originally four independent island masses, and while the Panama Canal was being dug, numerous ecosystems were being destroyed to dredge and attach the masses to create what is now Long Beach. Our soil is urban silt, trucked over from the Bronx, but the pine barrens, and ornithological habitats are native. My son is a fifth generation Long Beacher on both sides, and My dream is that my child and someday his child will be able to listen to Spring birds singing in Long Beach.

I’m only 36, and I’ve been doing everything I can to undue the human history of my countrymen, my neighbors, and my family for most of my life.  

All of the dates I’ve prepared to share with you keep in your mind the pattern, that as dates draw nearer the consumption and production of fossil fuels has increased.  The second thing is that every decade since the 1950’s the planets temperature-means have increased.

1970 is the first year, of the first Earth Day. Human environmentalists all over the world declared that the world needed to dramatically alter our civilization practices. The second date is 2009, when then Governor David Paterson issued an executive Order to overhaul the state’s environmental policies.

The CCPA was birthed out of 2009, this was before Hurricanes:
Irene, Sandy, Isaac, Ingrid, Joaquin, Matthew, Hermine, Earl, Otto, (ten hurricanes in 2017 including): Irma, Katia, Maria, Harvey, Florence, and Michael.

The four hottest years ever recorded happened after 2009, and all projection models of 2010 and earlier have been determined to be inaccurate. As the sea temperature increases the quantity and intensity of Hurricanes perpetually increases as well. Having an aggressive and immediate plan is more valuable compared to the one composed around outdated information.

Since 2004 I’ve been discussing proposals with members in our barrier beach community regarding a Green New Deal after reading Thomas Friedman’s paltry proposal.  

The spoiling factors of the CCPA are these: The proposal doesn’t eliminate fossil fuel from our infrastructure by 2030. The fact that regulations focused on manufacturing in this state and environmental-audits to prohibit excessive-unsustainable practices are not touched.  Auditing of NYS Agriculture/Farming is one thing, but does it go as far as auditing the transportation to haul off harvested goods? Standards must be implemented from clean electricity & energy to also cooperating with the habitat where many of these exotic crops are cultivated. This way the native living organisms in our state - across the board - are provided the best chance at succeeding. Subsidies for developments; residential, sports complexes etc are sac religious to environmental sustainability.  The amount of energy invested to transport the concrete alone to pour foundations for these architectural footprints are not appropriate. The transit system is left behind. Air travel has gone pretty much unnoticed. Presently we’re unable to convert airplanes into ones that don’t run on fossil fuels, but for some reason the Private jet industry isn’t mentioned? To incentivize people away from untenable private jets and bring them to commercial flight, or mass transit, we need to legislate for a statewide charge in all airports to mandate private jets to share in the GND’s advancement. Increase Private Jet fuel fees, maintenance cost fees, passenger fees. Imagine applying that same intensity now towards, sanitation, to landscaping, food services. Please, the animals and plants who I’m speaking for, who don’t have voices, but you represent as well, also need:

  • To Move to 100% clean renewable energy, net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
  • The state needs to enact a ban on the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure and start a phase-out of existing fossil fuels.
  • The legislation needs to set targets and goals for transportation and buildings, both of which account for a third of the state’s carbon footprint.
  • Release NYSERDA’s draft study with its own views of a possible timeline to 100% renewable.
  • The state needs to adopt a strong climate action plan, with clear two-year benchmarks, timelines and activities.  There should be an annual report to the legislature.
  • The various climate action plans need to be legally enforceable.  
  • Neither nuclear power or biomass are clean, safe, renewable energy sources and should be phased out.
  • The state should support public/community ownership and democratic control of the energy system.
  • Halt all new Fossil Fuel infrastructure.
  • Oppose Reappropriation of $88 million for New Fracked Gas Turbines for Empire State Plaza.
    Require New Buildings to be Net Zero Carbon Emissions.
  • Increase Funding for Mass Transit – Congestion Pricing – 100% New Zero Emission Vehicles by 2025.
  • Enact bioethical taxes to fund $100 billion subway fix.
  • End The $7.6 Billion Tax for Nuclear Subsidies.

I will have you know that I physically audited, sketched on top of, and measured,  ALL of the roofs of Sister Karen Burke's Sister’s of St Joseph. I even audited The Chairpersons' mother's roof for solar PV capabilities.  In my two year + tenure with Empower Solar I performed onsite -on-roof audits for over two thousand roofs (some with additional crew, some alone, ALL without fall protection). It’s important to be  to be on public record that I was not happy with being a non Union employee, and my wages were inconsiderably low. The sentiments I express here were shared by an overwhelming number of non-managerial employees of Mr. Schieren.  The layoffs and revolving door and urgent need to train lower paid staff was a stress on the well-being of all crews. The sales team I cannot speak for.

There is no question that Union status would have provided countless benefits to all crew staff!  

If you hear an inflection of urgency, that’s because it’s real, and I hope you feel it too.  I want a proactive Green New Deal that doesn’t concede to inferiority.