Climate & Energy
We are facing a global climate emergency, and we must act quickly and decisively to avoid catastrophe. The climate crisis is an existential threat to all of society, but we are not all equally impacted by it. In New York and across the world, working and poor people—often working and poor people of color—bear the brunt of the effects of fossil-fuel dependence and the climate crisis, ranging from air quality to access to clean water and flood risk.
For New York to do its part in the fight for climate justice, the State must fully divest from fossil fuels and enact a state-level 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 thousands of union jobs in the process. We also need to fight against hedge-fund investors who are seeking to turn New York’s dirty fossil-fuel power plants into engines for cryptocurrency speculation, and shut down polluting “peaker plants” that are poisoning working class neighborhoods. As we do this, we must facilitate a just transition to a renewable energy-based economy that creates sustainable, high-paying jobs. We must prioritize a bold climate agenda that invests in decarbonization, public transportation, and green infrastructure.
Since the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”) in 2019, New York State has not done nearly enough to combat climate change and invest in renewable energy alternatives. During my first term in office, we have taken some measures to provide some relief—such as delivering to the Governor a first-of-its-kind crypto-mining regulation bill that will impose a moratorium on certain fossil-fuel burning crypto-mining operations (S6486D)—but they’re not enough. Our legislation to divest teachers’ pension funds from fossil fuels (S4783A) was blocked in the final weeks of session, and our legislation to retire dirty “peaker plants” (S4378B) passed the Senate only to get blocked in the Assembly. Most heartbreaking of all, the crucial Build Public Renewables Act (S6453C) passed the Senate only to be killed in the final days of session by the Assembly.
As State Senator, I will continue to fight for:
A Just Transition
As we make the overdue transition to renewable, green energy sources, we must ensure that the communities most impacted by climate change are considered and that workers do not pay the price of this transition. We can do this by:
- Passing the Pollution Justice Act. Currently, a substantial amount of fossil-fuel infrastructure is either located in or nearby poor or minority communities. These communities have long dealt with disproportionate pollution burdens due to historic pollution sources being sent to their neighborhoods. As such, residents are often regularly exposed to toxic chemical pollutants in the air and many suffer from adverse health effects. For both our planet and our communities, we must rapidly replace fossil fuels with clean renewable energy sources. By fighting to pass S4378B, I am fighting to ensure that, as we make this transition, the communities most directly and unjustly exposed to air pollution are prioritized. During my first term in office, we passed this bill through the Senate, but the bill was frustratingly blocked in the Assembly.
- Ensuring climate justice by bringing clean energy and jobs to our most impacted communities. As we usher in a clean energy economy, we must address the historic underinvestment in our marginalized communities. Low-income communities and communities of color have been subject to high exposure to highly polluting infrastructure, and as such, they should be first in line to benefit from the opportunities the clean energy transition will bring about. As a result of the State’s increased climate-related initiatives, we must pass S3126C and prioritize these communities in providing jobs, training, and other resources, helping to correct the years of injustice experienced by these New Yorkers.
Move New York State Away from Reliance on Fossil Fuels and Into a Clean Energy Future
Despite the knowledge of the damage that fossil fuels do to our planet, little has been done in New York State to transition to clean energy sources. The time for action is long overdue. We know that climate-forward policy and quality, good paying jobs go hand in hand. We can both move New York into a green future and create employment opportunities by:
- Divesting teacher’s pensions from fossil fuels. New York State teachers invest a lot into nurturing and caring for their students. In return, New York State has a $120 billion pension fund dedicated to our state’s public school teachers and administrators, providing a variety of retirement and disability benefits. However, New York State still has $4.5 billion of our teachers pension dollars invested into fossil-fuel companies, such as Exxon, Chevron, and Valero. These investments directly threaten the futures our teachers are building. There is no reason to continue to financially support businesses that directly contribute to and exacerbate climate change when alternative investments exist. By passing this legislation (S4783A) and guarding teachers’ pensions from investing from fossil fuels, we protect the future our teachers are building for our students.
- The Build Public Renewables Act. In the Senate, we passed The Build Public Renewables Act (S6453C) to ensure New York State develops a renewable, reliable, and affordable energy infrastructure that would reduce New York’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 and convert 70% of its power generation to renewables by 2030. However, the Assembly failed to pass this vital legislation that would have transformed our energy system—delaying urgently needed changes to our energy infrastructure. I will continue to make building public renewables in New York a priority, in addition to other vital policies to make New York a national leader in climate policy. The Build Public Renewables Act would direct the New York Power Authority (NYPA), already the largest public utility in the nation, to build out renewable energy rather than relying on the private sector. This bill would bring as many as 51,000 jobs and between $48.6–$93.5 billion of economic activity to New York—and lay the groundwork for our vision of Public Power: a 100% renewable, democratically controlled, publicly owned energy system that serves people, not profit.
- Zero-emissions city transit. New York has an incredible opportunity to use its public resources and purchasing power to lead the way as we embark on the much-needed transition to a clean energy future. In the state, transportation remains one of the highest emitting sectors, and our public transportation methods, such as bus fleets, can be a vital part of the solution. Transitioning our state’s bus fleets to all zero-emission buses by passing S3535C would not only drive down greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce air pollution. This shift among our state’s bus fleet would be a critical step towards a cleaner transportation system for all New Yorkers as we look to bring more renewable energy into New York’s grid. Although we passed this bill in the New York State Senate this past year, it was blocked in the Assembly, and we will need to fight to pass it again next year.
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