Climate & Energy

We are facing a global climate emergency, and we must act as quickly and decisively to avoid catastrophe. Climate change is an existential threat to all of society, but we are not all equally impacted by it. In New York, and in places across the country and the world, working and poor people — often working and poor people of color — bear the brunt of the effects of fossil fuel dependence and climate change ranging, from air quality to access to clean water to flood risk. 

In 2016, I traveled to Standing Rock to support the Water Protectors fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. I stand in solidarity with all those struggling to transform our society to ensure the needs of people and the planet are prioritized above profits for the elite. Our response to the climate crisis must be a long term and radical vision focused on repair and redistribution, with a commitment to racial and economic justice.

For New York to do its part in the fight for environmental justice, the state must fully divest from fossil fuels and enact a state Green New Deal. We must bring energy companies like ConEd under public control and use the New York Power Authority to build new sustainable energy resources, creating huge numbers of jobs in the process. We must facilitate a just transition to a renewable energy based economy that creates high paying jobs. We must prioritize a bold climate agenda that invests in decarbonization, public transportation, and green infrastructure. 

As we head into yet another major financial crisis, a Green New Deal is clearly the most effective way to bolster our economy in a way that protects and empowers working class people. It is time to create jobs that contribute to the public good, and to bring unemployment to an end in the process. A Green New Deal could also strengthen unions after decades of attack, and ensure that every worker’s rights are protected on and off the job.

As I do everything I can to support the enactment of a Green New Deal in New York, I will make sure that the most at-risk communities have priority access to resources and a strong voice in shaping the policies that will impact them.

As a state senator, I will fight for:

  • A Green New Deal to upgrade New York’s infrastructure. A Green New Deal for New York is an opportunity to reinvent our society to be more just, to improve the quality of life for working people everywhere while preventing climate catastrophe. We must invest in creating green infrastructure across the state, including measures to protect at-risk communities, construct energy-efficient buildings, and build more public housing while ensuring that those units are sustainable and safe. All of this work must be done using union labor and prioritize at-risk, work-class communities, such as Red Hook and Gowanus.
  • Building on the historic Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to reach carbon neutrality and 100% clean, renewable energy in New York by 2030. I will fight any attempt to scale back the CLCPA, but I will also push to make the legislation more ambitious. Currently, the legislation demands carbon neutrality by 2050, but research shows that is too late to prevent the worst effects of climate change. We must be more ambitious if we are serious about fighting climate change.
  • Allocating $10 billion every year to fight climate change. Making commitments to fight climate change means little if we do not fund those commitments. Ten billion dollars is a lot of money, but it is little compared to the human cost of climate change and the monetary cost of rebuilding our communities after a catastrophe. 
  • Divesting New York State pension funds from fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry is bolstered by its investors. If we are serious about moving away from fossil fuels, we cannot continue to invest public funds into them. Further, fossil fuels are limited and it is entirely possible their value will soon collapse. It is not sound financial policy to continue to invest the pensions of our public workers in these precarious commodities. 
  • Closing New York’s fracking waste loophole. While New York has banned fracking, our state still accepts fracking waste from other states. Closing this loophole will help us put pressure on other states to end their harmful fracking practices. 
  • Moving toward a publicly owned and managed energy grid in New York State. We cannot continue to allow for-profit companies like ConEd to operate the grid. Instead of allowing new pipelines (like the Williams Pipeline) to be built or allowing private companies to dictate New York’s energy policy, the state should municipalize energy companies, using their assets to aid the decarbonization of our heating, gas, and energy systems.
  • Ending racist brownouts (the practice of reducing the flow of electricity to certain areas in response to high demand) and blackouts in predominantly working-class neighborhoods of color.
  • Lead remediation. As a teacher, ensuring that our students are safe from lead poisoning is a personal issue for me. Many students are scared to drink the water in our school, because they know several public schools across New York City have discovered lead in their water. I will fight for lead remediation and also work to ensure that the replacement pipe work is done by union labor.
  • Banning factory farms. The intersection of factory farming with energy, the environment, and health is often forgotten. Mass-scale, factory farming produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases and consumes a massive amount of energy, contributes to environmental pollution, and wastes a disproportionate amount of natural resources. We must transition to sustainable farming if we are truly committed to carbon neutrality and combating climate change.
  • Making New York a leader in greenhouse gas reduction, and improving health outcomes and quality of life for New Yorkers, by getting people out of cars and onto buses, bikes, and trains. People are fed up with how the city and state manage how we get around. Pedestrians and cyclists are less safe than ever and are increasingly battling for space with automobiles –– often with deadly results. Straphangers and bus riders feel powerless at the hands of the MTA hundreds of miles away in Albany. And drivers are tired of being punished, rather than incentivized, to switch to other modes of transportation. Our roads, bike lanes, subways, and buses should be safe, efficient, and work for the people who operate and use them. Specific measures I will support including:
    • Introducing traffic-calming measures via infrastructure (i.e., physical barriers, curb cuts, greenery etc.) to protect pedestrians and bikers and encourage drivers to slow down before they speed; 
    • Removing minimum parking requirements city-wide to improve walkability;
    • Freezing C-level hires at the MTA until Fast Track upgrades are complete;
    • Removing cops from the subway; 
    • Identifying streets in the district and throughout the city to pilot a “busway” akin to 14th St in Manhattan;
    • Funding subway signal infrastructure, rather than projects that extend the subway into wealthy neighborhoods;
    • Passing bill A1720, which mandates that the maximum penalty for subway fare-beating be equal to the cost of the fare that was evaded;
    • Connecting all disconnected bike lanes in Brooklyn within 5 years;
    • Ensuring that all NYCHA unites to have bike corrals or secure bike parking (e.g., https://www.ooneepod.com/).

 

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