Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/environment 2019-01-23T10:01:00+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com The Green New Deal New York Needs, From Its Original Source 2019-01-13T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-13T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8195-the-green-new-deal-new-york-needs-from-its-original-source Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/govandcuomo-offshore.jpg" alt="govandcuomo offshore" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo via the Governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>In outlining his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term, Governor Cuomo said in December he would launch a Green New Deal. I have been calling for a Green New Deal since 2010 in three Green Party gubernatorial campaigns against him.</p> <p>Cuomo has already nominally adopted a number of my platform planks, including the fracking ban, marriage equality, a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public college, paid family leave, and legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, the implementation of some of these measures fall short of full realization and the same appears to be true for what will be Cuomo’s Green New Deal.</p> <p>The Green Party’s Green New Deal would fulfill the full promise of the original New Deal as articulated by President Franklin Roosevelt in his last State of the Union address in 1944 when he called upon Congress to enact a second, economic bill of rights, including the rights to a job, an adequate income, decent housing, comprehensive health care, and a good education. What makes it a <em>Green</em> New Deal is that the rapid build out of a 100% clean energy system would provide the sustainable economic foundation for the realization of economic human rights for all.</p> <p>The only specific measure Cuomo announced is a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2040. The reality is that electricity accounts for only about 20% of New York’s carbon emissions. We must also zero out the other 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation, buildings, industrial, commercial, and agricultural sectors. Cuomo’s Green New Deal thus falls far short of the reduction in carbon emissions that climate science indicates is needed to avert the tipping points of runaway global warming and a climate catastrophe of widespread extinctions, collapsing ecosystems, food and water shortages, generalized impoverishment, masses of climate refugees, and resource wars.</p> <p>The recent <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">International Panel on Climate Change report</a> says net zero carbon emissions by 2050 across all sectors worldwide is needed in order to stay under a “safe” rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial temperature. The world already reached a rise of 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2015. Because the UN’s IPPC reports have to be approved by the major petro-states and carbon emitters such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Brazil, and the United States, their reports have consistently underestimated the pace of global warming and understated the measures needed to stem it. Independent studies by climate scientists such as NASA’s James Hansen and his colleagues conclude that global warming must be limited to 1 degree Celsius to avoid the tipping points of runaway warming, which requires carbon emissions to zero out in 15 years combined with drawing down existing atmospheric carbon through massive reforestation and rebuilding living soils through sustainable agriculture.</p> <p>The good news is that a crash program for clean energy is economically and technically feasible. And make no mistake, this is an emergency that must be dealt with as such.</p> <p>Following up on <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a 2009 study</a> demonstrating the planetwide feasibility of 100% clean energy by 2030, Mark Jacobson and colleagues found in <a href="https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NewYorkWWSEnPolicy.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a 2013 study</a> for New York that a 100% renewable energy system by 2030 was not only feasible, but would create an economic boom. It would create 4.5 million jobs construction and manufacturing jobs during the build out. It would improve public health (more than 3,000 New Yorkers die annually from air pollution) and lower electric rates up to 50% compared to the continued use of fossil and nuclear fuels.</p> <p>A Green New Deal for New York should start with the NY Off Fossil Fuels Act (A5105A/S5908A), which halts all new fossil fuel infrastructure and creates a program for 100% clean energy by 2030.</p> <p>The Off Fossil Fuels Act requires state, county, and local governments to adopt detailed, enforceable clean energy plans with two-year benchmarks, timelines, and reporting. It would require new buildings to have net zero carbon emissions by 2020 and new vehicles to be emissions free by 2025. It has strong environmental justice provisions for a “just transition” that ensures that low-income communities and communities of color, and communities dependent on fossil fuel and nuclear plants, are made whole in terms of jobs, wages, benefits, and tax revenues during the transition.</p> <p>Climate action must be linked to economic justice to sustain political support. New York’s Green New Deal should also embrace the New York Health Act for universal health care, fully-funded public schools, tuition-free public colleges, and building quality public housing to address the housing affordability crisis.</p> <p>New York’s Green New Deal should halt new fracked-gas pipelines and power plants. The corruption-ridden Competitive Power Ventures fracked-gas power plant in Orange County alone will add 10% to the state’s carbon emissions. The governor supports upgrading the Sheridan Avenue gas plant to power, heat, and cool state government buildings on Empire State Plaza. That plant has poisoned and sickened the largely low-income African-American Arbor Hill neighborhood for over a century by burning coal, oil, garbage, and now gas.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo should use his authority under the Clean Water Act to deny permits to gas pipelines and power plants, which invariably negatively impact streams and watersheds. He should embrace the Renewable Heat Campaign to replace gas heating with ground- and air-source heat pumps. He should fix the existing Green Homes Green Jobs program to energy retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes for insulation, efficiency, and heat pumps. He should compel the DEC and NYSERDA to complete and report out their long-delayed study he asked for two years ago to plan a transition to 100% clean energy (a report we are now told will not be released).</p> <p>Jacobson and colleagues put the capital cost for a 100% clean energy system at $460 billion. The $14 billion clean energy loan guarantee program of the 2009 Obama stimulus leveraged 47 times more in private investment. Using a conservative 10 to 1 leveraging ratio, a state investment of $46 billion would generate the $460 billion. &nbsp;</p> <p>The money should come from a combination of taxes and lending. The pending bills for a progressive state carbon tax would generate at least $7 billion a year, more than enough to invest $4.6 billion a year over ten years. A carbon tax will enhance the leverage of public investments by creating predictable market signals for savings from private clean energy investments. A state public bank could extend the credit for private clean energy investments at lower cost than borrowing through Wall Street, with the interest and principal returning to the state for public purposes. Taking public ownership of all power utilities, and operating them at cost for public benefit instead of at cost-plus-profits for absentee owners, will enable us to plan the energy transition for lower cost and without obstruction from the vested interests of the incumbent utility, fossil fuel, and nuclear industries.</p> <p>If these measures sound like democratic socialism, they are. The federal government nationalized 25% of U.S. manufacturing during World War II in order to turn industry on a dime to build the “arsenal of democracy” that defeated the Nazis. We need nothing less to defeat climate change.</p> <p>***<br /> Howie Hawkins is a three-time New York gubernatorial nominee of The Green Party and long-time climate activist. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/HowieHawkins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@HowieHawkins</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/govandcuomo-offshore.jpg" alt="govandcuomo offshore" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo via the Governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>In outlining his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term, Governor Cuomo said in December he would launch a Green New Deal. I have been calling for a Green New Deal since 2010 in three Green Party gubernatorial campaigns against him.</p> <p>Cuomo has already nominally adopted a number of my platform planks, including the fracking ban, marriage equality, a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public college, paid family leave, and legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, the implementation of some of these measures fall short of full realization and the same appears to be true for what will be Cuomo’s Green New Deal.</p> <p>The Green Party’s Green New Deal would fulfill the full promise of the original New Deal as articulated by President Franklin Roosevelt in his last State of the Union address in 1944 when he called upon Congress to enact a second, economic bill of rights, including the rights to a job, an adequate income, decent housing, comprehensive health care, and a good education. What makes it a <em>Green</em> New Deal is that the rapid build out of a 100% clean energy system would provide the sustainable economic foundation for the realization of economic human rights for all.</p> <p>The only specific measure Cuomo announced is a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2040. The reality is that electricity accounts for only about 20% of New York’s carbon emissions. We must also zero out the other 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation, buildings, industrial, commercial, and agricultural sectors. Cuomo’s Green New Deal thus falls far short of the reduction in carbon emissions that climate science indicates is needed to avert the tipping points of runaway global warming and a climate catastrophe of widespread extinctions, collapsing ecosystems, food and water shortages, generalized impoverishment, masses of climate refugees, and resource wars.</p> <p>The recent <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">International Panel on Climate Change report</a> says net zero carbon emissions by 2050 across all sectors worldwide is needed in order to stay under a “safe” rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial temperature. The world already reached a rise of 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2015. Because the UN’s IPPC reports have to be approved by the major petro-states and carbon emitters such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Brazil, and the United States, their reports have consistently underestimated the pace of global warming and understated the measures needed to stem it. Independent studies by climate scientists such as NASA’s James Hansen and his colleagues conclude that global warming must be limited to 1 degree Celsius to avoid the tipping points of runaway warming, which requires carbon emissions to zero out in 15 years combined with drawing down existing atmospheric carbon through massive reforestation and rebuilding living soils through sustainable agriculture.</p> <p>The good news is that a crash program for clean energy is economically and technically feasible. And make no mistake, this is an emergency that must be dealt with as such.</p> <p>Following up on <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a 2009 study</a> demonstrating the planetwide feasibility of 100% clean energy by 2030, Mark Jacobson and colleagues found in <a href="https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NewYorkWWSEnPolicy.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a 2013 study</a> for New York that a 100% renewable energy system by 2030 was not only feasible, but would create an economic boom. It would create 4.5 million jobs construction and manufacturing jobs during the build out. It would improve public health (more than 3,000 New Yorkers die annually from air pollution) and lower electric rates up to 50% compared to the continued use of fossil and nuclear fuels.</p> <p>A Green New Deal for New York should start with the NY Off Fossil Fuels Act (A5105A/S5908A), which halts all new fossil fuel infrastructure and creates a program for 100% clean energy by 2030.</p> <p>The Off Fossil Fuels Act requires state, county, and local governments to adopt detailed, enforceable clean energy plans with two-year benchmarks, timelines, and reporting. It would require new buildings to have net zero carbon emissions by 2020 and new vehicles to be emissions free by 2025. It has strong environmental justice provisions for a “just transition” that ensures that low-income communities and communities of color, and communities dependent on fossil fuel and nuclear plants, are made whole in terms of jobs, wages, benefits, and tax revenues during the transition.</p> <p>Climate action must be linked to economic justice to sustain political support. New York’s Green New Deal should also embrace the New York Health Act for universal health care, fully-funded public schools, tuition-free public colleges, and building quality public housing to address the housing affordability crisis.</p> <p>New York’s Green New Deal should halt new fracked-gas pipelines and power plants. The corruption-ridden Competitive Power Ventures fracked-gas power plant in Orange County alone will add 10% to the state’s carbon emissions. The governor supports upgrading the Sheridan Avenue gas plant to power, heat, and cool state government buildings on Empire State Plaza. That plant has poisoned and sickened the largely low-income African-American Arbor Hill neighborhood for over a century by burning coal, oil, garbage, and now gas.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo should use his authority under the Clean Water Act to deny permits to gas pipelines and power plants, which invariably negatively impact streams and watersheds. He should embrace the Renewable Heat Campaign to replace gas heating with ground- and air-source heat pumps. He should fix the existing Green Homes Green Jobs program to energy retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes for insulation, efficiency, and heat pumps. He should compel the DEC and NYSERDA to complete and report out their long-delayed study he asked for two years ago to plan a transition to 100% clean energy (a report we are now told will not be released).</p> <p>Jacobson and colleagues put the capital cost for a 100% clean energy system at $460 billion. The $14 billion clean energy loan guarantee program of the 2009 Obama stimulus leveraged 47 times more in private investment. Using a conservative 10 to 1 leveraging ratio, a state investment of $46 billion would generate the $460 billion. &nbsp;</p> <p>The money should come from a combination of taxes and lending. The pending bills for a progressive state carbon tax would generate at least $7 billion a year, more than enough to invest $4.6 billion a year over ten years. A carbon tax will enhance the leverage of public investments by creating predictable market signals for savings from private clean energy investments. A state public bank could extend the credit for private clean energy investments at lower cost than borrowing through Wall Street, with the interest and principal returning to the state for public purposes. Taking public ownership of all power utilities, and operating them at cost for public benefit instead of at cost-plus-profits for absentee owners, will enable us to plan the energy transition for lower cost and without obstruction from the vested interests of the incumbent utility, fossil fuel, and nuclear industries.</p> <p>If these measures sound like democratic socialism, they are. The federal government nationalized 25% of U.S. manufacturing during World War II in order to turn industry on a dime to build the “arsenal of democracy” that defeated the Nazis. We need nothing less to defeat climate change.</p> <p>***<br /> Howie Hawkins is a three-time New York gubernatorial nominee of The Green Party and long-time climate activist. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/HowieHawkins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@HowieHawkins</a>.</p> <p>

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A 'Green New Deal' for New York and More: Where the Climate Change Conversation is Headed in 2019 2019-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8174-a-green-new-deal-for-new-york-climate-change-conversation-is-headed-in-2019 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/mbilldeblasiotours-bofeitc-lic.jpg" alt="mbilldeblasiotours bofeitc lic" width="600" /></p> <p>(Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>After an election where the issue <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8028-climate-change-and-what-to-do-about-it-largely-missing-from-governor-s-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">saw little mainstream political attention</a>, climate change and what to do about it has come roaring back to the forefront of the New York political scene. Whether it’s because of a recent federal report <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/11/24/18109883/climate-report-2018-national-assessment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">outlining the economic damage climate change will cause</a> if left unchecked, because New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used her bully pulpit to <a href="https://earther.gizmodo.com/new-poll-shows-basically-everyone-likes-alexandria-ocas-1831158171" target="_blank" rel="noopener">push a Green New Deal</a>, or the potential for more action after Democrats won control of the state Senate, there’s increased attention on both new and old legislation to try to beat back rising oceans, extreme weather and their effects.</p> <p>At both the state and city levels, efforts to combat climate change are likely to be significant topics of discussion in 2019.</p> <p><strong>New York State</strong><br /> Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat starting his third term, has increasingly spoken out about the climate crisis during his time in office, even if his ideas and rhetoric haven’t always been what climate activists want from him. The state’s <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming Energy Vision</a> has set energy efficiency goals (a 600 trillion British thermal units efficiency increase) and renewable energy goals (50 percent of electricity) for the year 2030, and Cuomo helped to establish the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-us-climate-alliance-initiatives-mark-one-year-anniversary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">U.S. Climate Alliance</a>, a group of 16 states that have agreed to take measures to get their greenhouse gas emissions down to the level set by the Paris Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s rejection of it. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The governor also made news with a pair of announcements recently. First, <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-dramatic-increase-energy-efficiency-and-energy-storage-targets-combat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he announced</a> a new New York State Public Service Commission regulation that mandates utilities find ways to cut 31 trillion British thermal units of site energy (which is the heat and electricity consumed by a building), to move towards the goal of saving 185 TBtus 2025 (an energy efficiency framework that the governor said could create 50,000 jobs by 2025) along with an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to develop better energy storage capabilities statewide.</p> <p>Second, Cuomo gave a December speech outlining his 2019 legislative agenda, and called for a Green New Deal for New York, though he gave few details. While Cuomo’s Green New Deal is unlikely to look like a state-level version of the one Ocasio-Cortez is pushing nationally, the dual goals of such a program are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing renewable energies and creating green jobs.</p> <p>In his speech Cuomo did lay out two central aspects of his Green New Deal vision, which he is expected to expand upon when he presents his State of the State policy book in January: getting the state’s electricity to 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2040 and eventually eliminating the state’s carbon footprint entirely. Cuomo also contrasted his belief and policy plans with that of the Trump administration’s attitude, saying that “federal government still denies climate change, remarkably turning a blind eye to their own government's scientific report.”</p> <p>Still, his initial position falls short of what the state’s most vocal climate change activists are calling for. Those activists, who have formed the NY Renews coalition, reacted to Cuomo’s announcement by putting together <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/18/movie-trailer-release-cuomosclimatecrisis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a slick movie trailer</a> with footage of climate disasters and <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/17/cuomo-says-he-will-move-ny-off-fossil-fuels-must-execute-vision-by-passing-climate-and-community-protection-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a press release</a> pointing out that electricity is 20 percent of the state’s total carbon footprint, all in service of continuing to push their gold standard: the Climate and Community Protection Act.</p> <p>The CCPA, which has passed the state Assembly for three years only to be stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate that is about to turn to Democratic hands, establishes what advocates have called a “climate justice” framework. In addition to setting legislative targets for the use of renewable energy (50 percent of energy statewide by 2030) and carbon elimination (100 percent fossil fuel free by 2050), the bill also directs any transition project getting state funding to pay a prevailing wage and directs 40 percent of whatever state investment goes towards climate mitigation efforts to go to low-income communities and communities most threatened by climate change. All of which, according to the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, state Senator Brad Hoylman, add up to what the Manhattan Democrat says is the best approach to a Green New Deal, “a three-pronged approach: jobs, labor [standards], and protecting vulnerable communities.”</p> <p>What the ramp up to transition away from fossil fuels will look like is not laid out in detail by the bill, instead the text requires the creation of a New York State Climate Action Council and directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to establish greenhouse gas emissions limits and regulations to achieve those limits. The bill also establishes a Climate Justice Working Group, which would study how to expand renewable energy into disadvantaged communities and would “have a role in determining what that investment would look like,” Hoylman said.</p> <p>Whether that means a heavy hand from the state or not is something that’s been up for debate, and a place where Cuomo’s proclamation means he may soon weigh in. In a previous interview with Gotham Gazette, three-time Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins -- who has been running on a Green New Deal for New York since the 2010 race -- suggested that it would take “a World War II-scale mobilization” to prevent catastrophic damage from climate change. “During World War II we nationalized 25 percent of manufacturing in this country to make sure we could turn on a dime to make the weapons we used to beat the Nazis. The private investor-owned utilities and energy companies, they haven't led the way to clean energy, so we may need more public ownership,” Hawkins suggested.</p> <p>In Hoylman’s view, the state doesn’t have to seize the means of production or even take on the role of primary investor, as much as it should shape where the market moves money.</p> <p>“I think it's a combination of private investment, but with some prodding by the state to direct investment into low-income communities and communities of color, which otherwise might be passed by the marketplace,” Hoylman said of getting renewable power infrastructure into low-income communities. “I see government's role as a corrective one and making certain that that we've solved the collective action problem, which is basically doing nothing and allowing the marketplace to proceed unabated and our dependence on fossil fuels to increase. That might be less expensive in the short term, but it’s going to be more expensive in the long term. And then secondly, protecting those New Yorkers who often get left behind in these types of transitions, in particular where they’re reliant on outdated modes of energy like fossil fuels.”</p> <p>As the CCPA has languished in the Republican-ruled state Senate, and the years tick closer to 2030, Hoylman said he understands the need to move fast on the legislation when his party takes the helm.</p> <p>“I think so,” Hoylman said when asked if it was imperative that the CCPA is passed in 2019. “You know, we're running out of time on a lot of aspects, but certainly, if we're going to move as quickly as other states like California, we need to pass this bill as soon as possible.”</p> <p>Hoylman also said that he is sensitive to the challenge that Democrats have in passing the CCPA and the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would help fund transition efforts through a carbon tax, while avoiding the pitfall of looking like the tax-hiking and regulation-spewing liberals Republicans warned they would be, but that inaction would be even worse.</p> <p>“I think a Democratic Senate will be very sensitive to raising taxes of any sort without a real understanding of what the point behind them is,” Holyman said. “We think the Climate and Community Protection Act actually creates revenue, given the costs associated with climate change, so I would ask, ‘what is the cost of us not doing anything.’”</p> <p>While the governor hasn’t signaled a position on the bill, and seems to have left the specifics for his Green New Deal for his State of the State, Hoylman praised moves that Cuomo has made on the climate with his executive powers, like establishing a commitment to <a href="https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/new-york-gov-cuomo-pushes-ambitious-offshore-wind-energy-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030</a> and banning fracking. With both houses of the Legislature and the governor himself invested in the larger idea of transitioning away from fossil fuels, Hoylman said he sees a paradigm “that will push Albany to act more decisively on the issue.”</p> <p>Whatever any final Green New Deal for New York looks like will be a product of negotiations between Cuomo and the Legislature, possibly as part of the late March or early April state budget agreement for the next fiscal year.</p> <p>The new chair of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, <a href="https://twitter.com/toddkaminsky/status/1072503462703874051" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Senator Todd Kaminsky</a> of Long Island has said he is excited to get to work fighting climate change.&nbsp;“In the face of climate change and the dire threat it poses to New York and our planet, our State must emerge as an environmental leader and demonstrate that we understand the urgency at hand and the need to act accordingly," Kaminsky said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "I plan to hit the ground running as chair to take more aggressive steps to protect our environment and New Yorkers, including holding hearings on the Climate and Community Protection Act, and enacting legislation in support of other resiliency and renewable energy efforts.”</p> <p>As Kaminsky indicated, while the CCPA is the main event of this year’s legislative session when it comes to climate change activism, there’s a lot on the undercard that the state has been grappling with. While public transit is usually thought of as the domain of New York City and the surrounding metro area, and the governor’s Buffalo Billion II program <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7353-with-phase-one-going-on-trial-cuomo-s-buffalo-investment-moves-ahead-with-changes-and-broken-reform-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">doesn’t have the cleanest lineage</a>, advocates for a Buffalo light rail expansion <a href="https://buffalochronicle.com/2018/12/27/tim-kennedy-may-be-willing-to-fight-for-a-wider-expansion-of-the-light-rail-system/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are hoping</a> Senator Tim Kennedy’s place as chair of the Transportation Committee will mean more funding for expanding the system as the city <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/11/20/nfta-proposes-new-cheaper-route-for-metro-rail-extension-to-amherst/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">determines the best path forward</a>.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the state is pushing for renewable energy with an <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-issues-new-yorks-large-scale-offshore-wind-solicitation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RFP out asking for vendors to deliver</a> 800 megawatts of offshore wind power (with winners to be announced in the spring of 2019) which was <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/2018-stateofthestatebook.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a goal in Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State book</a>, and the NY-Sun initiative, which offers education and financing for solar projects and has supported almost 90,000 solar projects around the state.</p> <p>There’s also the New York Green Bank, <a href="https://greenbank.ny.gov/Investments/Portfolio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">which has invested over $500 million in areas</a> like community solar, energy efficiency and storage projects. The Cuomo administration has continued work <a href="https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/retrofitny-aims-to-turn-new-york-states-affordable-housing-stock-deep-green_o" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on its RetrofitNY project</a>, an effort to find ways to affordably and scalably retrofit multifamily buildings in order to cut their emissions, although the effort hasn’t made it out of the “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/RetrofitNY/Timeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proof of concept and design phase yet</a>.”</p> <p>Outside of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion, there’s also the ongoing argument over Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s management of the state pension fund, which is worth more than $200 billion. Environmental advocates have pressed DiNapoli to divest the state’s pension funds from fossil fuel companies, a move that they say would not only hurt companies who contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, <a href="https://350.org/press-release/dinapoli-cost-nys-22-billion-divestment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">but also make the state pension fund more money</a>. DiNapoli, for his part, has argued <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-27/new-york-city-albany-part-ways-on-divesting-fossil-fuel-stocks" target="_blank" rel="noopener">against making any sudden, sweeping moves</a> without studying their impact, and that <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-lovett-dinapoli-disinvestment-pension-fund-climate-change-20181216-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he has a fiduciary duty</a> to get the best return possible for the state, while also putting $10 billion in state pension funds in a low-emissions and clean energy indexes. He’s also argued that by being an activist investor, he can push the companies toward more climate-friendly policies.</p> <p><strong>New York City</strong><br /> There are also proposals for New York City to take action, independent of the state, with ongoing action to cut emissions and a pair of high-profile bills that were introduced at the end of 2018. The de Blasio administration has <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/02/on-the-environment-de-blasio-defied-expectations-with-bold-goals-but-now-must-deliver/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">included climate change in the OneNYC agenda</a>, setting goals to make New York “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/sustainability/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most sustainable big city in the world</a>” and “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/resiliency/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most resilient big city in the world</a>.”</p> <p>Part of OneNYC is the de Blasio administration’s target for emissions cutbacks, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability put out a <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/pdf/publications/New%20York%20City's%20Roadmap%20to%2080%20x%2050_Final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Roadmap to 80x50</a> in 2016 that set a path for emissions reductions by way of energy standards for buildings, expanding the use of renewable energy, increasing the use of mass transit and reducing the amount of waste sent to city landfills.</p> <p>The city is set to begin construction on the “Big U,” a coastal resiliency measure made up of parkland and berms around lower Manhattan to protect it from flooding, in spring 2020, <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/493-18/fact-sheet-de-blasio-administration-faster-updated-plan-east-side-coastal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to the most recent news</a> provided by the de Blasio administration. The updated plan for the flood protection, which involves raising the East River Park, <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-the-citys-odd-storm-splurge-20181025-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has been criticized though</a>, for making the project costlier in what critics say is an effort to not inconvenience drivers on the FDR Drive and avoiding dealing with the Parks Department’s lack of any kind of post-storm maintenance budget. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/agenda19v2-a.jpg" alt="agenda19v2 a" width="250" height="127" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></a></strong>After the mayor got out ahead of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/nyregion/de-blasio-mayor-environment-buildings-emissions.html?mcubz=3&amp;module=inline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">allies and even his office</a> with proposed energy efficiency mandates regarding retrofitting and caps on the amount of fossil fuels buildings can burn, the exact ideas he’d proposed <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/04/25/de-blasios-energy-efficiency-mandates-languish-with-no-deal-in-sight-382038" target="_blank" rel="noopener">never really took off</a>. But, a <a href="https://council.nyc.gov/costa-constantinides/2018/11/20/constantinides-announces-bill-with-speaker-johnson-to-significantly-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-large-buildings-by-2030/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently-introduced pair of bills</a> from Queens City Council Member Costa Constantinides run with the idea, and if passed, would introduce new emissions standards for many buildings 25,000 square feet or larger. Since large buildings account for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, backers of the Constantinides bills see retrofitting large buildings by doing things like installing energy efficient HVAC systems, hot water heaters, and electricity and lighting, as one of the most effective ways for the city to cut those emissions 80 percent by 2050. The bills, which had their first hearing in December, would open an Office of Building Energy Performance that can set new buildings emissions standards and also establish a financing program to help the owners of some buildings finance efforts to retrofit their properties to reach the emissions targets the office sets out.</p> <p>“We need to start where the emissions are, and these large buildings are the right place to do it,” Constantinides said at a hearing to introduce the bills, noting that while buildings larger than 50,000 square feet only make up less than one percent of the city’s building stock, they give off 30 percent of the city’s total emissions. However, while the bill’s supporters have praised the exemption of buildings with at least one rent-stabilized unit from the most stringent efficiency requirements as a necessary way to protect residents from potential rent hikes from upgrades counted as major capital improvements, <a href="https://commercialobserver.com/2018/12/landlords-unions-engineers-rebny-take-aim-at-building-retrofitting-bill/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">critics have called the provision a major problem</a>. (In the event that the state rent laws are changed to prevent landlords from passing MCIs on to rent-stabilized tenants though, organizations like New York Communities for Change have expressed support for writing buildings with rent-stabilized units into the law.)</p> <p>Mark Chambers, director of the de Blasio administration’s Office of Sustainability, told the City Council that the laws could create over 14,000 jobs related to the efforts to retrofit buildings and praised the establishment of a New York City <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Commercial-Property-Assessed-Clean-Energy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PACE financing program</a> as a way to make sure that property owners themselves aren’t burdened by the efficiency upgrades.</p> <p>Elsewhere, activists who started a campaign this summer to <a href="https://www.publicbanknyc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">establish a public bank in New York City</a> recently rallied at City Hall to connect the potential municipal bank with efforts to fight climate change on a local level. First, advocates say that taking billions of city deposits away from larger banks like Chase and Bank of America, who <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/21/top-global-banks-still-lend-billions-extract-fossil-fuels" target="_blank" rel="noopener">finance fossil fuel extraction</a> with some of their money, would be as effective a strike against fossil fuel reliance as the city’s underway efforts to divest its public pension funds from fossil fuel stock. Additionally, advocates say that a public bank would allow for cheaper financing of small-scale renewable energy projects that will be necessary in the coming transition away from fossil fuels.</p> <p>“Waterfront solar projects, community solar projects, all of those kind of projects could be funded more easily if the intermediaries that were trying to do the good work didn't have to go to their very limited pots of money or could get money out of somebody bigger who wasn't predatory,” Stephan Edel, the director of the New York Working Families Project at the Working Families Party, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>And while Edel had praise for the pension funds and the state’s green bank as effective tools in the transition to a green economy, he also said that a public bank could lend to projects that return on their investment somewhat slower. “A public bank still has to make safe investments, has to make that limited return, but it can look at a longer term set of benefits and it can look at investments that can have a long-term benefit because it's not looking to get its return in a quarter or make nine percent,” he said.</p> <p>As for the proposal’s legislative future, the New Economy Project’s Ali Issa told Gotham Gazette that the&nbsp;Public Bank NYC coalition is working with “an array of state and city elected officials, including Council Member Mark Levine” to put a proposal for the bank forward in 2019.</p> <p>Levine, for his part, provided a statement saying, “though we have made progress divesting from the fossil fuel industry, we must go further. Our City should put its own money to work for New Yorkers through a public bank, which would supercharge investments in critical projects throughout the five boroughs, and return financial power to the people and businesses that need it most.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/mbilldeblasiotours-bofeitc-lic.jpg" alt="mbilldeblasiotours bofeitc lic" width="600" /></p> <p>(Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>After an election where the issue <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8028-climate-change-and-what-to-do-about-it-largely-missing-from-governor-s-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">saw little mainstream political attention</a>, climate change and what to do about it has come roaring back to the forefront of the New York political scene. Whether it’s because of a recent federal report <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/11/24/18109883/climate-report-2018-national-assessment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">outlining the economic damage climate change will cause</a> if left unchecked, because New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used her bully pulpit to <a href="https://earther.gizmodo.com/new-poll-shows-basically-everyone-likes-alexandria-ocas-1831158171" target="_blank" rel="noopener">push a Green New Deal</a>, or the potential for more action after Democrats won control of the state Senate, there’s increased attention on both new and old legislation to try to beat back rising oceans, extreme weather and their effects.</p> <p>At both the state and city levels, efforts to combat climate change are likely to be significant topics of discussion in 2019.</p> <p><strong>New York State</strong><br /> Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat starting his third term, has increasingly spoken out about the climate crisis during his time in office, even if his ideas and rhetoric haven’t always been what climate activists want from him. The state’s <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming Energy Vision</a> has set energy efficiency goals (a 600 trillion British thermal units efficiency increase) and renewable energy goals (50 percent of electricity) for the year 2030, and Cuomo helped to establish the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-us-climate-alliance-initiatives-mark-one-year-anniversary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">U.S. Climate Alliance</a>, a group of 16 states that have agreed to take measures to get their greenhouse gas emissions down to the level set by the Paris Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s rejection of it. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The governor also made news with a pair of announcements recently. First, <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-dramatic-increase-energy-efficiency-and-energy-storage-targets-combat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he announced</a> a new New York State Public Service Commission regulation that mandates utilities find ways to cut 31 trillion British thermal units of site energy (which is the heat and electricity consumed by a building), to move towards the goal of saving 185 TBtus 2025 (an energy efficiency framework that the governor said could create 50,000 jobs by 2025) along with an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to develop better energy storage capabilities statewide.</p> <p>Second, Cuomo gave a December speech outlining his 2019 legislative agenda, and called for a Green New Deal for New York, though he gave few details. While Cuomo’s Green New Deal is unlikely to look like a state-level version of the one Ocasio-Cortez is pushing nationally, the dual goals of such a program are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing renewable energies and creating green jobs.</p> <p>In his speech Cuomo did lay out two central aspects of his Green New Deal vision, which he is expected to expand upon when he presents his State of the State policy book in January: getting the state’s electricity to 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2040 and eventually eliminating the state’s carbon footprint entirely. Cuomo also contrasted his belief and policy plans with that of the Trump administration’s attitude, saying that “federal government still denies climate change, remarkably turning a blind eye to their own government's scientific report.”</p> <p>Still, his initial position falls short of what the state’s most vocal climate change activists are calling for. Those activists, who have formed the NY Renews coalition, reacted to Cuomo’s announcement by putting together <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/18/movie-trailer-release-cuomosclimatecrisis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a slick movie trailer</a> with footage of climate disasters and <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/17/cuomo-says-he-will-move-ny-off-fossil-fuels-must-execute-vision-by-passing-climate-and-community-protection-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a press release</a> pointing out that electricity is 20 percent of the state’s total carbon footprint, all in service of continuing to push their gold standard: the Climate and Community Protection Act.</p> <p>The CCPA, which has passed the state Assembly for three years only to be stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate that is about to turn to Democratic hands, establishes what advocates have called a “climate justice” framework. In addition to setting legislative targets for the use of renewable energy (50 percent of energy statewide by 2030) and carbon elimination (100 percent fossil fuel free by 2050), the bill also directs any transition project getting state funding to pay a prevailing wage and directs 40 percent of whatever state investment goes towards climate mitigation efforts to go to low-income communities and communities most threatened by climate change. All of which, according to the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, state Senator Brad Hoylman, add up to what the Manhattan Democrat says is the best approach to a Green New Deal, “a three-pronged approach: jobs, labor [standards], and protecting vulnerable communities.”</p> <p>What the ramp up to transition away from fossil fuels will look like is not laid out in detail by the bill, instead the text requires the creation of a New York State Climate Action Council and directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to establish greenhouse gas emissions limits and regulations to achieve those limits. The bill also establishes a Climate Justice Working Group, which would study how to expand renewable energy into disadvantaged communities and would “have a role in determining what that investment would look like,” Hoylman said.</p> <p>Whether that means a heavy hand from the state or not is something that’s been up for debate, and a place where Cuomo’s proclamation means he may soon weigh in. In a previous interview with Gotham Gazette, three-time Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins -- who has been running on a Green New Deal for New York since the 2010 race -- suggested that it would take “a World War II-scale mobilization” to prevent catastrophic damage from climate change. “During World War II we nationalized 25 percent of manufacturing in this country to make sure we could turn on a dime to make the weapons we used to beat the Nazis. The private investor-owned utilities and energy companies, they haven't led the way to clean energy, so we may need more public ownership,” Hawkins suggested.</p> <p>In Hoylman’s view, the state doesn’t have to seize the means of production or even take on the role of primary investor, as much as it should shape where the market moves money.</p> <p>“I think it's a combination of private investment, but with some prodding by the state to direct investment into low-income communities and communities of color, which otherwise might be passed by the marketplace,” Hoylman said of getting renewable power infrastructure into low-income communities. “I see government's role as a corrective one and making certain that that we've solved the collective action problem, which is basically doing nothing and allowing the marketplace to proceed unabated and our dependence on fossil fuels to increase. That might be less expensive in the short term, but it’s going to be more expensive in the long term. And then secondly, protecting those New Yorkers who often get left behind in these types of transitions, in particular where they’re reliant on outdated modes of energy like fossil fuels.”</p> <p>As the CCPA has languished in the Republican-ruled state Senate, and the years tick closer to 2030, Hoylman said he understands the need to move fast on the legislation when his party takes the helm.</p> <p>“I think so,” Hoylman said when asked if it was imperative that the CCPA is passed in 2019. “You know, we're running out of time on a lot of aspects, but certainly, if we're going to move as quickly as other states like California, we need to pass this bill as soon as possible.”</p> <p>Hoylman also said that he is sensitive to the challenge that Democrats have in passing the CCPA and the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would help fund transition efforts through a carbon tax, while avoiding the pitfall of looking like the tax-hiking and regulation-spewing liberals Republicans warned they would be, but that inaction would be even worse.</p> <p>“I think a Democratic Senate will be very sensitive to raising taxes of any sort without a real understanding of what the point behind them is,” Holyman said. “We think the Climate and Community Protection Act actually creates revenue, given the costs associated with climate change, so I would ask, ‘what is the cost of us not doing anything.’”</p> <p>While the governor hasn’t signaled a position on the bill, and seems to have left the specifics for his Green New Deal for his State of the State, Hoylman praised moves that Cuomo has made on the climate with his executive powers, like establishing a commitment to <a href="https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/new-york-gov-cuomo-pushes-ambitious-offshore-wind-energy-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030</a> and banning fracking. With both houses of the Legislature and the governor himself invested in the larger idea of transitioning away from fossil fuels, Hoylman said he sees a paradigm “that will push Albany to act more decisively on the issue.”</p> <p>Whatever any final Green New Deal for New York looks like will be a product of negotiations between Cuomo and the Legislature, possibly as part of the late March or early April state budget agreement for the next fiscal year.</p> <p>The new chair of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, <a href="https://twitter.com/toddkaminsky/status/1072503462703874051" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Senator Todd Kaminsky</a> of Long Island has said he is excited to get to work fighting climate change.&nbsp;“In the face of climate change and the dire threat it poses to New York and our planet, our State must emerge as an environmental leader and demonstrate that we understand the urgency at hand and the need to act accordingly," Kaminsky said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "I plan to hit the ground running as chair to take more aggressive steps to protect our environment and New Yorkers, including holding hearings on the Climate and Community Protection Act, and enacting legislation in support of other resiliency and renewable energy efforts.”</p> <p>As Kaminsky indicated, while the CCPA is the main event of this year’s legislative session when it comes to climate change activism, there’s a lot on the undercard that the state has been grappling with. While public transit is usually thought of as the domain of New York City and the surrounding metro area, and the governor’s Buffalo Billion II program <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7353-with-phase-one-going-on-trial-cuomo-s-buffalo-investment-moves-ahead-with-changes-and-broken-reform-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">doesn’t have the cleanest lineage</a>, advocates for a Buffalo light rail expansion <a href="https://buffalochronicle.com/2018/12/27/tim-kennedy-may-be-willing-to-fight-for-a-wider-expansion-of-the-light-rail-system/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are hoping</a> Senator Tim Kennedy’s place as chair of the Transportation Committee will mean more funding for expanding the system as the city <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/11/20/nfta-proposes-new-cheaper-route-for-metro-rail-extension-to-amherst/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">determines the best path forward</a>.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the state is pushing for renewable energy with an <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-issues-new-yorks-large-scale-offshore-wind-solicitation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RFP out asking for vendors to deliver</a> 800 megawatts of offshore wind power (with winners to be announced in the spring of 2019) which was <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/2018-stateofthestatebook.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a goal in Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State book</a>, and the NY-Sun initiative, which offers education and financing for solar projects and has supported almost 90,000 solar projects around the state.</p> <p>There’s also the New York Green Bank, <a href="https://greenbank.ny.gov/Investments/Portfolio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">which has invested over $500 million in areas</a> like community solar, energy efficiency and storage projects. The Cuomo administration has continued work <a href="https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/retrofitny-aims-to-turn-new-york-states-affordable-housing-stock-deep-green_o" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on its RetrofitNY project</a>, an effort to find ways to affordably and scalably retrofit multifamily buildings in order to cut their emissions, although the effort hasn’t made it out of the “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/RetrofitNY/Timeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proof of concept and design phase yet</a>.”</p> <p>Outside of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion, there’s also the ongoing argument over Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s management of the state pension fund, which is worth more than $200 billion. Environmental advocates have pressed DiNapoli to divest the state’s pension funds from fossil fuel companies, a move that they say would not only hurt companies who contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, <a href="https://350.org/press-release/dinapoli-cost-nys-22-billion-divestment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">but also make the state pension fund more money</a>. DiNapoli, for his part, has argued <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-27/new-york-city-albany-part-ways-on-divesting-fossil-fuel-stocks" target="_blank" rel="noopener">against making any sudden, sweeping moves</a> without studying their impact, and that <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-lovett-dinapoli-disinvestment-pension-fund-climate-change-20181216-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he has a fiduciary duty</a> to get the best return possible for the state, while also putting $10 billion in state pension funds in a low-emissions and clean energy indexes. He’s also argued that by being an activist investor, he can push the companies toward more climate-friendly policies.</p> <p><strong>New York City</strong><br /> There are also proposals for New York City to take action, independent of the state, with ongoing action to cut emissions and a pair of high-profile bills that were introduced at the end of 2018. The de Blasio administration has <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/02/on-the-environment-de-blasio-defied-expectations-with-bold-goals-but-now-must-deliver/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">included climate change in the OneNYC agenda</a>, setting goals to make New York “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/sustainability/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most sustainable big city in the world</a>” and “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/resiliency/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most resilient big city in the world</a>.”</p> <p>Part of OneNYC is the de Blasio administration’s target for emissions cutbacks, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability put out a <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/pdf/publications/New%20York%20City's%20Roadmap%20to%2080%20x%2050_Final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Roadmap to 80x50</a> in 2016 that set a path for emissions reductions by way of energy standards for buildings, expanding the use of renewable energy, increasing the use of mass transit and reducing the amount of waste sent to city landfills.</p> <p>The city is set to begin construction on the “Big U,” a coastal resiliency measure made up of parkland and berms around lower Manhattan to protect it from flooding, in spring 2020, <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/493-18/fact-sheet-de-blasio-administration-faster-updated-plan-east-side-coastal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to the most recent news</a> provided by the de Blasio administration. The updated plan for the flood protection, which involves raising the East River Park, <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-the-citys-odd-storm-splurge-20181025-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has been criticized though</a>, for making the project costlier in what critics say is an effort to not inconvenience drivers on the FDR Drive and avoiding dealing with the Parks Department’s lack of any kind of post-storm maintenance budget. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/agenda19v2-a.jpg" alt="agenda19v2 a" width="250" height="127" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></a></strong>After the mayor got out ahead of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/nyregion/de-blasio-mayor-environment-buildings-emissions.html?mcubz=3&amp;module=inline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">allies and even his office</a> with proposed energy efficiency mandates regarding retrofitting and caps on the amount of fossil fuels buildings can burn, the exact ideas he’d proposed <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/04/25/de-blasios-energy-efficiency-mandates-languish-with-no-deal-in-sight-382038" target="_blank" rel="noopener">never really took off</a>. But, a <a href="https://council.nyc.gov/costa-constantinides/2018/11/20/constantinides-announces-bill-with-speaker-johnson-to-significantly-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-large-buildings-by-2030/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently-introduced pair of bills</a> from Queens City Council Member Costa Constantinides run with the idea, and if passed, would introduce new emissions standards for many buildings 25,000 square feet or larger. Since large buildings account for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, backers of the Constantinides bills see retrofitting large buildings by doing things like installing energy efficient HVAC systems, hot water heaters, and electricity and lighting, as one of the most effective ways for the city to cut those emissions 80 percent by 2050. The bills, which had their first hearing in December, would open an Office of Building Energy Performance that can set new buildings emissions standards and also establish a financing program to help the owners of some buildings finance efforts to retrofit their properties to reach the emissions targets the office sets out.</p> <p>“We need to start where the emissions are, and these large buildings are the right place to do it,” Constantinides said at a hearing to introduce the bills, noting that while buildings larger than 50,000 square feet only make up less than one percent of the city’s building stock, they give off 30 percent of the city’s total emissions. However, while the bill’s supporters have praised the exemption of buildings with at least one rent-stabilized unit from the most stringent efficiency requirements as a necessary way to protect residents from potential rent hikes from upgrades counted as major capital improvements, <a href="https://commercialobserver.com/2018/12/landlords-unions-engineers-rebny-take-aim-at-building-retrofitting-bill/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">critics have called the provision a major problem</a>. (In the event that the state rent laws are changed to prevent landlords from passing MCIs on to rent-stabilized tenants though, organizations like New York Communities for Change have expressed support for writing buildings with rent-stabilized units into the law.)</p> <p>Mark Chambers, director of the de Blasio administration’s Office of Sustainability, told the City Council that the laws could create over 14,000 jobs related to the efforts to retrofit buildings and praised the establishment of a New York City <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Commercial-Property-Assessed-Clean-Energy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PACE financing program</a> as a way to make sure that property owners themselves aren’t burdened by the efficiency upgrades.</p> <p>Elsewhere, activists who started a campaign this summer to <a href="https://www.publicbanknyc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">establish a public bank in New York City</a> recently rallied at City Hall to connect the potential municipal bank with efforts to fight climate change on a local level. First, advocates say that taking billions of city deposits away from larger banks like Chase and Bank of America, who <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/21/top-global-banks-still-lend-billions-extract-fossil-fuels" target="_blank" rel="noopener">finance fossil fuel extraction</a> with some of their money, would be as effective a strike against fossil fuel reliance as the city’s underway efforts to divest its public pension funds from fossil fuel stock. Additionally, advocates say that a public bank would allow for cheaper financing of small-scale renewable energy projects that will be necessary in the coming transition away from fossil fuels.</p> <p>“Waterfront solar projects, community solar projects, all of those kind of projects could be funded more easily if the intermediaries that were trying to do the good work didn't have to go to their very limited pots of money or could get money out of somebody bigger who wasn't predatory,” Stephan Edel, the director of the New York Working Families Project at the Working Families Party, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>And while Edel had praise for the pension funds and the state’s green bank as effective tools in the transition to a green economy, he also said that a public bank could lend to projects that return on their investment somewhat slower. “A public bank still has to make safe investments, has to make that limited return, but it can look at a longer term set of benefits and it can look at investments that can have a long-term benefit because it's not looking to get its return in a quarter or make nine percent,” he said.</p> <p>As for the proposal’s legislative future, the New Economy Project’s Ali Issa told Gotham Gazette that the&nbsp;Public Bank NYC coalition is working with “an array of state and city elected officials, including Council Member Mark Levine” to put a proposal for the bank forward in 2019.</p> <p>Levine, for his part, provided a statement saying, “though we have made progress divesting from the fossil fuel industry, we must go further. Our City should put its own money to work for New Yorkers through a public bank, which would supercharge investments in critical projects throughout the five boroughs, and return financial power to the people and businesses that need it most.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Governor's Right to Call for a New York Green New Deal, But Here’s What It Should Look Like 2018-12-17T05:00:00+00:00 2018-12-17T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8151-the-governor-is-right-to-call-for-a-new-york-green-new-deal-but-here-s-what-it-should-look-like Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cuomo_action_on_climate_nyu.jpg" alt="cuomo action on climate nyu" width="600" height="373" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s draft resolution for a Green New Deal has sparked new momentum for climate action among progressives and young people across New York and beyond. Not only is her federal proposal spreading like wildfire on social media, but group after group — from the Sunrise Movement to Moveon to Indivisible to 32BJ SEIU — is mobilizing thousands of activists in support of the message. Four members of New York’s congressional delegation have already endorsed Representative-elect Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, thanks to constituent pressure: Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jose Serrano, Adriano Espaillat, and Nydia Velazquez.</p> <p>And now even Governor Cuomo is on the Green New Deal train. Just Monday, in his speech outlining his 2019 legislative agenda, he declared his own intention to enact a so-called “Green New Deal” in New York.</p> <p>Cuomo is right that here in New York we don’t have to wait on the federal government for our own Green New Deal. We must take immediate action to cut carbon emissions and shift to renewable energy, while creating green jobs. What he failed to mention, however, is that the New York State Assembly has already passed what is essentially a Green New Deal for New York several years in a row. And that version is better than what Cuomo sketched on Monday, which he said would “make New York's electricity 100% carbon neutral by 2040 and ultimately eliminate the state’s entire carbon footprint,” though he gave no timetable for that.</p> <p>The Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) would compel the state to invest in green jobs, renewable energy, and community development while setting meaningful, enforceable targets for reducing carbon emissions for all energy sectors to zero by 2050. This is the Green New Deal we need for New York.</p> <p>Like Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, the CCPA is a visionary climate justice bill: it ensures that our transition to renewable energy will protect society’s most vulnerable, and treats climate action as an opportunity to create fair-paying union jobs and grow the economy. And unlike the electricity-focused vision outlined in Cuomo’s speech, the CCPA would cut emissions to zero for all sectors and prioritize investing in communities that suffer most from climate consequences.</p> <p>Up until now, the CCPA has failed to come to the floor for a vote in the State Senate, which has been controlled by Republicans. So too it has been mostly ignored by Governor Cuomo while it languished. But in 2019, with an overwhelming Democratic majority in both the Assembly and Senate and early indications from the governor that he wants to capitalize on the Green New Deal’s momentum, New York leaders can and should make the Climate and Community Protection Act state law. Not all Green New Deals are created equal.</p> <p>As with federal level climate action, the CCPA has broad support among voters. The CCPA and its companion bill, the Climate and Community Investment Act — an “upstream” tax on corporate polluters that would fund the CCPA’s just transition — are supported by NY Renews, a growing coalition of nearly 150 grassroots organizations and labor unions across New York. These are the same groups that propelled Democrats to victory and a new Senate majority, and who will be able to collectively mobilize hundreds of thousands of people across the state for what comes next.</p> <p>As this year’s federal report on the economic cost of climate inaction illustrates, we cannot afford to wait any longer to pursue transformational climate action. According to the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have just ten years to drastically reduce carbon emissions in order to avoid climate catastrophe. With a pro-polluter President and a divided Congress, it is life-or-death essential for blue states, especially states with large economies like New York, to take the lead on eliminating emissions, shifting to renewables, and investing in climate resiliency now, in 2019.</p> <p>In just a few weeks, Cuomo and legislators will have a chance to immediately pass the Climate and Community Protection Act. It is not just about reducing emissions or reaching “carbon neutrality,” it’s about justice and the bold comprehensive change needed to successfully protect humanity from climate crisis. It’s been ready and waiting in the wings and now it’s ready for the spotlight. Legislators and Governor Cuomo should follow through on their promises and pass the Climate and Community Protection Act this year and make a true Green New Deal for New York a reality.</p> <p>***<br />Liat Olenick is a public school science teacher, union leader, and co-president of non-profit Indivisible Nation BK. On Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/liat_ro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@Liat_RO</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/cuomo_action_on_climate_nyu.jpg" alt="cuomo action on climate nyu" width="600" height="373" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s draft resolution for a Green New Deal has sparked new momentum for climate action among progressives and young people across New York and beyond. Not only is her federal proposal spreading like wildfire on social media, but group after group — from the Sunrise Movement to Moveon to Indivisible to 32BJ SEIU — is mobilizing thousands of activists in support of the message. Four members of New York’s congressional delegation have already endorsed Representative-elect Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, thanks to constituent pressure: Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jose Serrano, Adriano Espaillat, and Nydia Velazquez.</p> <p>And now even Governor Cuomo is on the Green New Deal train. Just Monday, in his speech outlining his 2019 legislative agenda, he declared his own intention to enact a so-called “Green New Deal” in New York.</p> <p>Cuomo is right that here in New York we don’t have to wait on the federal government for our own Green New Deal. We must take immediate action to cut carbon emissions and shift to renewable energy, while creating green jobs. What he failed to mention, however, is that the New York State Assembly has already passed what is essentially a Green New Deal for New York several years in a row. And that version is better than what Cuomo sketched on Monday, which he said would “make New York's electricity 100% carbon neutral by 2040 and ultimately eliminate the state’s entire carbon footprint,” though he gave no timetable for that.</p> <p>The Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) would compel the state to invest in green jobs, renewable energy, and community development while setting meaningful, enforceable targets for reducing carbon emissions for all energy sectors to zero by 2050. This is the Green New Deal we need for New York.</p> <p>Like Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, the CCPA is a visionary climate justice bill: it ensures that our transition to renewable energy will protect society’s most vulnerable, and treats climate action as an opportunity to create fair-paying union jobs and grow the economy. And unlike the electricity-focused vision outlined in Cuomo’s speech, the CCPA would cut emissions to zero for all sectors and prioritize investing in communities that suffer most from climate consequences.</p> <p>Up until now, the CCPA has failed to come to the floor for a vote in the State Senate, which has been controlled by Republicans. So too it has been mostly ignored by Governor Cuomo while it languished. But in 2019, with an overwhelming Democratic majority in both the Assembly and Senate and early indications from the governor that he wants to capitalize on the Green New Deal’s momentum, New York leaders can and should make the Climate and Community Protection Act state law. Not all Green New Deals are created equal.</p> <p>As with federal level climate action, the CCPA has broad support among voters. The CCPA and its companion bill, the Climate and Community Investment Act — an “upstream” tax on corporate polluters that would fund the CCPA’s just transition — are supported by NY Renews, a growing coalition of nearly 150 grassroots organizations and labor unions across New York. These are the same groups that propelled Democrats to victory and a new Senate majority, and who will be able to collectively mobilize hundreds of thousands of people across the state for what comes next.</p> <p>As this year’s federal report on the economic cost of climate inaction illustrates, we cannot afford to wait any longer to pursue transformational climate action. According to the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have just ten years to drastically reduce carbon emissions in order to avoid climate catastrophe. With a pro-polluter President and a divided Congress, it is life-or-death essential for blue states, especially states with large economies like New York, to take the lead on eliminating emissions, shifting to renewables, and investing in climate resiliency now, in 2019.</p> <p>In just a few weeks, Cuomo and legislators will have a chance to immediately pass the Climate and Community Protection Act. It is not just about reducing emissions or reaching “carbon neutrality,” it’s about justice and the bold comprehensive change needed to successfully protect humanity from climate crisis. It’s been ready and waiting in the wings and now it’s ready for the spotlight. Legislators and Governor Cuomo should follow through on their promises and pass the Climate and Community Protection Act this year and make a true Green New Deal for New York a reality.</p> <p>***<br />Liat Olenick is a public school science teacher, union leader, and co-president of non-profit Indivisible Nation BK. On Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/liat_ro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@Liat_RO</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
For the Future of Our Communities, Labor Support for The Green New Deal 2018-12-11T05:00:00+00:00 2018-12-11T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8138-labor-support-for-the-green-new-deal-32bj Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/green_new_deal_via_sunrisemvmt.jpg" alt="green new deal via sunrise movement" width="600" height="389" /></p> <p>(photo: @sunrisemvmt)</p> <hr /> <p>Four years ago, the New York climate march brought 300,000 people to the streets of Manhattan to demand action from national and world leaders. Marching in New York City with my family, we witnessed how thousands of people from all walks of life filled the streets with energy, passion, and hope for a better future for our children and grandchildren. 32BJ SEIU, the labor union I am honored to lead, played a vital part in the People’s Climate March because our members live and work in communities that are affected by climate change.</p> <p>We reside in coastal cities that have been flooded by storms like Hurricane Sandy. Our urban areas suffer with skyrocketing asthma rates. Many of us have families in the global south that have been devastated by climate change. We march and organize to bring attention to this existential crisis and demand action now. And we know that solutions can be found that both generate jobs and deliver sustainable energy.<br /> <br />As the new crop of progressive legislators in Congress is showing us all, the time to be bold on issues like climate change, the economy, and immigration is now. Last week Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced the introduction of the Green New Deal, a plan to make climate change, clean air, clean water, and reductions in pollution a priority for the new Congress when its members take office in January.<br /> <br />As a union representing 163,000 doormen, security officers, cleaners, and airport workers up and down the east coast, we support this bold vision to reduce greenhouse gasses, switch to renewable energies, and create good jobs. It’s both doable and indispensable.</p> <p>For labor unions like ours, climate change is an environmental issue, an economic opportunity, and a political challenge that can destabilize our societies. We need to be ambitious and that requires us to think on a large scale and allocate the appropriate finances to fully address the climate threats that our planet is facing.<br /> <br />These threats are environmental and economic, and they will require investments in the communities historically dependent on fossil fuel extraction and production so the transition to renewable energy doesn’t leave “coal country” out in the cold. This is an opportunity to re-industrialize America with a green economy, with jobs that, with the right training, can provide career ladders for many low-wage workers who struggle to afford the high cost of living.<br /> <br />32BJ has a Green Buildings Program that serves as a good example and learning experience. The program, which trains existing building superintendents how to make residential buildings in New York more energy efficient, was meant to reduce the 77% of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions that are produced by residential buildings. It has taught us that investing in long-term training and education programs for current employees can help them transition into the green economy and even become leaders in these efforts.</p> <p>When these jobs are well paid, with benefits and union representation, green initiatives can further support local communities already dealing with the impacts of climate change. Initiatives like the Climate Jobs New York Program, which includes legislative requirements for labor standards in the creation of new wind and solar energy jobs across the state, show us that it is possible and deeply impactful when good union jobs are a central tenet of green job initiatives.<br /> <br />Directly impacted communities, those who have done the least to cause climate change—the poor, people of color, immigrants—and are suffering the most also need good jobs, affordable modernized public transportation, and big investments in renewable and solar energy in order to survive and thrive through the projected climate threats to come.<br /> <br />As Congress weighs the viability of a Green New Deal, we urge elected officials, labor unions, environmental groups, and community organizations to support its vision and to be smart, compassionate, and bold.<br /> <br />While there is much going on around the globe today that is disturbing and disheartening, it is also a time for hope. Let’s keep moving, marching, organizing, voting, and winning.<br /> <br />***<br />Hector Figueroa is president of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, representing 175,000 property-service workers up and down the east coast. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/figue32bj" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@figue32bj</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/32BJSEIU" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@32BJSEIU</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/green_new_deal_via_sunrisemvmt.jpg" alt="green new deal via sunrise movement" width="600" height="389" /></p> <p>(photo: @sunrisemvmt)</p> <hr /> <p>Four years ago, the New York climate march brought 300,000 people to the streets of Manhattan to demand action from national and world leaders. Marching in New York City with my family, we witnessed how thousands of people from all walks of life filled the streets with energy, passion, and hope for a better future for our children and grandchildren. 32BJ SEIU, the labor union I am honored to lead, played a vital part in the People’s Climate March because our members live and work in communities that are affected by climate change.</p> <p>We reside in coastal cities that have been flooded by storms like Hurricane Sandy. Our urban areas suffer with skyrocketing asthma rates. Many of us have families in the global south that have been devastated by climate change. We march and organize to bring attention to this existential crisis and demand action now. And we know that solutions can be found that both generate jobs and deliver sustainable energy.<br /> <br />As the new crop of progressive legislators in Congress is showing us all, the time to be bold on issues like climate change, the economy, and immigration is now. Last week Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced the introduction of the Green New Deal, a plan to make climate change, clean air, clean water, and reductions in pollution a priority for the new Congress when its members take office in January.<br /> <br />As a union representing 163,000 doormen, security officers, cleaners, and airport workers up and down the east coast, we support this bold vision to reduce greenhouse gasses, switch to renewable energies, and create good jobs. It’s both doable and indispensable.</p> <p>For labor unions like ours, climate change is an environmental issue, an economic opportunity, and a political challenge that can destabilize our societies. We need to be ambitious and that requires us to think on a large scale and allocate the appropriate finances to fully address the climate threats that our planet is facing.<br /> <br />These threats are environmental and economic, and they will require investments in the communities historically dependent on fossil fuel extraction and production so the transition to renewable energy doesn’t leave “coal country” out in the cold. This is an opportunity to re-industrialize America with a green economy, with jobs that, with the right training, can provide career ladders for many low-wage workers who struggle to afford the high cost of living.<br /> <br />32BJ has a Green Buildings Program that serves as a good example and learning experience. The program, which trains existing building superintendents how to make residential buildings in New York more energy efficient, was meant to reduce the 77% of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions that are produced by residential buildings. It has taught us that investing in long-term training and education programs for current employees can help them transition into the green economy and even become leaders in these efforts.</p> <p>When these jobs are well paid, with benefits and union representation, green initiatives can further support local communities already dealing with the impacts of climate change. Initiatives like the Climate Jobs New York Program, which includes legislative requirements for labor standards in the creation of new wind and solar energy jobs across the state, show us that it is possible and deeply impactful when good union jobs are a central tenet of green job initiatives.<br /> <br />Directly impacted communities, those who have done the least to cause climate change—the poor, people of color, immigrants—and are suffering the most also need good jobs, affordable modernized public transportation, and big investments in renewable and solar energy in order to survive and thrive through the projected climate threats to come.<br /> <br />As Congress weighs the viability of a Green New Deal, we urge elected officials, labor unions, environmental groups, and community organizations to support its vision and to be smart, compassionate, and bold.<br /> <br />While there is much going on around the globe today that is disturbing and disheartening, it is also a time for hope. Let’s keep moving, marching, organizing, voting, and winning.<br /> <br />***<br />Hector Figueroa is president of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, representing 175,000 property-service workers up and down the east coast. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/figue32bj" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@figue32bj</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/32BJSEIU" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@32BJSEIU</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
Climate Change, and What To Do About It, Largely Missing from Governor’s Race 2018-10-30T04:00:00+00:00 2018-10-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8028-climate-change-and-what-to-do-about-it-largely-missing-from-governor-s-race Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/21450272963_b04fbcd901_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Gore climate change" width="600" height="404" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and former VP Gore in 2015 (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York’s 2018 gubernatorial election has largely been eclipsed, like so many things in United States politics, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8011-during-debate-molinaro-attacks-while-cuomo-ties-opponent-to-trump" target="_blank" rel="noopener">by a massive Trump-shaped shadow</a>. Within that shadow, Andrew Cuomo and Marc Molinaro have argued about the health of upstate New York, management of the MTA, and dueling corruption charges, among other topics. But one looming issue, climate change, has seemed to escape the notice of the two candidates, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report" target="_blank" rel="noopener">even as news related to it becomes more dire</a> and New York’s Legislature sits on proposals to shift the state to a 100 percent renewable energy environment.</p> <p>“I would say no, but that's generally my answer for most candidates,” Aracely Jimenez-Hudis, a member of the climate justice organization Sunrise NYC said when asked if she thought either of the major party gubernatorial candidates were talking enough about climate change. And while Jimenez-Hudis works with a group whose main focus is climate change, the fact remains that it simply isn’t an issue either candidate has decided to address this year.</p> <p>Molinaro doesn’t include a platform on climate change or the environment on his website, but told Gotham Gazette that he accepts climate change as science and that it is a trend impacted by humans; he believes in “the inherent capacity of man to overcome any challenge.” Molinaro also said he agrees with the governor’s idea to get New York to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, but that rather than the state investing large amounts of money in private companies, government “ought to create an economic climate where the industry can actually compete and thrive.” He doesn’t believe in “cutting checks,” he said, but he is open to the right blend of tax incentives and regulatory changes to encourage a greener economy.</p> <p>Beyond the question of energy sources, Molinaro said that congestion pricing as a funding mechanism for expanding public transportation and reducing street congestion, and changing zoning codes to reduce damage to the environment and make clean energy use more effective were ideas he’d look to in order to reduce emissions as a whole.</p> <p>On the trail, though, the Dutchess county executive and Republican nominee for governor has said he’s open to a “pilot program” allowing fracking in New York’s Southern Tier and has expressed a worry that New York is <a href="http://www.wellsvilledaily.com/news/20180415/five-questions-with-marc-molinaro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">missing out on an economic boom</a> by not allowing the practice. While Molinaro has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">touted his past endorsements by the Sierra Club</a> as part of his proof that he’s a different kind of Republican, the organization <a href="https://atlantic2.sierraclub.org/content/sierra-club-endorsements-new-york-state" target="_blank" rel="noopener">endorsed Cuomo over him</a> this year.</p> <p>On his own campaign website, <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/issues" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo writes that his administration</a> has made New York a national leader on climate change, casting it through the lens of resisting the Trump administration, writing that he’s “picking up the mantle of climate leadership where Washington is failing.” His office has funded <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-more-204-million-improve-storm-resiliency-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">over $20 million worth of flood protection efforts</a> on Long Island this year, and the Sierra Club endorsement for the governor notes his leadership in banning fracking in 2014 and lauds him for committing New York to generating 50 percent of its energy from renewable powers like wind and solar by 2030, but the biggest instance of the governor’s name being attached to the word “climate” this campaign was when he suggested <a href="https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/09/gov_cuomo_blames_weather_for_ny_state_population_decline.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“climate-based” reasons</a> were driving people’s decision to move out of upstate New York.</p> <p>Cuomo has campaigned little on forward-looking policy of any kind, mostly highlighting past accomplishments and staking out anti-Trump ground. When he has discussed a third-term agenda, climate change is background noise. His <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/news/governor-cuomo-and-long-island-senate-candidates-propose-nine-point-plan-make-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nine Point Pledge for a Stronger Long Island</a>, signed with each of the Democratic state Senate candidates on the island, contains passing references to “resiliency projects” and passing the governor’s bill outlawing offshore drilling in New York.</p> <p>The governor has faced his own criticism on environmental policy, including an <a href="http://bedfordandbowery.com/2018/08/8-arrested-at-governors-office-as-they-demand-cuomo-renounce-fossil-fuel-donations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">occupation of his Manhattan office</a> earlier this summer by activists with Sunrise over his refusal to sign a pledge to not take fossil fuel-linked campaign donations and for not getting behind the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Climate and Community Protection Act</a>. The CCPA, a bill that seeks to move New York to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, with power grid transitions and resiliency efforts <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2b4sxM265uZNUlDakpBdUFUY0VQWnlPdjYtdnViZFdBQU9R/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">paid for by a tax on greenhouse gas emissions</a>, got a boost of media and campaign attention during the primary campaign when Cynthia Nixon threw her support behind it. Nixon called the CCPA <a href="https://twitter.com/nychange/status/1055246479508586501" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most important work of her campaign</a> at a recent gala for New York Communities for Change, work that got her <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">kudos from environmental activists</a>. But even in the primary’s lone debate, <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cuomo-nixon-debate_us_5b8743cde4b0162f471f5667" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the bill only came up briefly</a>.</p> <p>There was no discussion of climate change in the single Cuomo-Molinaro debate, which took place last week. It’s an unfortunate turn of events according to Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate, because New York could set the tone for the way the rest of the country reacts to the issue. “What we do counts,” Hawkins said, citing the size of New York’s economy <a href="http://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-state-economies-countries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">compared to the economies of entire nations</a>, “and we think what it does for the economy, besides what it does for the climate, will set an example that other people will want to emulate. Just like Franklin Roosevelt did some public employment when he was governor and it became a model for the jobs programs of the New Deal, I think we set an example [with a Green New Deal], we get ahead of the curve and other people are gonna want to follow our lead.”</p> <p>Hawkins sees a transition to a green economy, part of what he calls a <a href="http://www.howiehawkins.org/issues_green_new_deal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Green New Deal</a>, as one of the many issues residents north of Westchester say have been ignored this year. “The thing about a serious climate action program is it’s a big economic stimulus, particularly upstate where you have to do a lot of energy installation,” Hawkins said, adding that the region could also become a manufacturing hub for green technology that could create jobs and be an example for the rest of the country.</p> <p>Cuomo has in fact focused some of his energies on creating more affordable forms of power through the <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming the Energy Vision</a> program, the umbrella strategy to move New York towards 50 percent renewable power by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 percent from their levels in the 1990s. Within that strategy, New York State has partnered with utility companies to work on <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/rev-demo-projects-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">projects testing out ways</a> to efficiently deliver green energy, has invested in workforce training in green energy and companies related to the field and has taken “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/History-of-NYSERDA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a more market-based, decentralized approach</a>” to shifting the state to renewable power. The state also has a high-stakes partnership with Tesla <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/08/01/for-tesla-the-clock-is-ticking-to-bring-jobs-to-buffalo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">that’s supposed to bring 1,460 jobs to Buffalo</a>, following the company’s acquisition of SolarCity, the solar panel manufacturer the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-solarcity-gigafactory-complex-riverbend" target="_blank" rel="noopener">state invested $750 million in</a> (an investment that was later discovered <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to be caught up in Alain Kaloyeros’ bid-rigging scheme</a>).</p> <p>The lack of climate change talk has “been the pattern in the presidential debates, and certainly in New York-level debates,” Pete Sikora, an activist with New York Communities for Change focused on environmental issues, told Gotham Gazette. “Climate change is an important issue to voters, but if you're looking at Molinaro versus Cuomo, it hasn't become a defining contrast.” NYCC endorsed Nixon in the primary.</p> <p>Hudis-Jimenez said that Nixon’s focus on the the Climate and Community Protection Act allowed her and other canvassers to do specific outreach directly to voters through climate canvasses for Nixon, which was helpful to spread the bill’s message, but ultimately not as scalable as something beamed into homes across the state.</p> <p>“More people will tune into a debate probably than are contacted by canvassing or phone-banking, so the issues that get talked about during a debate are the ones voters will think about when they're going to the polls,” she said. “So the fact that climate change got maybe five seconds [in the Cuomo-Nixon debate] said a lot about the work that still needs to be done getting climate change to be a top electoral issue.”</p> <p>“I don't know why it's not a huge issue,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told Gotham Gazette. “You would think, considering Long Island and Westchester, so much of the region was underwater, you would think it would be more of a discussion.” Part of the reason for its absence as a front and center issue, Brewer speculated, was that unlike the everyday experience for New Yorkers that is a broken subway, “we don't experience water coming into our buildings everyday.”</p> <p>It is getting to be more of an issue though, Brewer noted, though there can be a subtlety to it that hides the more dire nature of the crisis. “There's a difference between a big storm and just plain old surge. Even if you don’t get a big storm, the water surge is a different issue. So you could get something like no storm and still a high water situation,” she said, noting she got a high water alert before this weekend’s Nor’easter.</p> <p>The absence of climate change and what to do about it from the broader gubernatorial campaign also chills questions of whether even the proposals that Nixon pushed go far enough, or if something like the Green Party-supported <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s5908" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Off Fossil Fuels Act</a> is the right path for the state. That bill, sponsored by Assemblymember William Colton and state Senator Brad Hoylman (who also just <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/op-ed/saving-new-york-climate-change" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote an op-ed calling on the state to pass the CCPA</a>), both Democrats, would move New York to 100 percent clean energy by 2030, a necessary step in the face of the continuing climate crisis and what Hawkins said were insufficient proposals by Cuomo and Nixon, whose proposals both called for New York to use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.</p> <p>“They want 50 percent clean electricity by 2030, but electricity is just 28 percent of the carbon footprint, it doesn't deal with transportation, industry, agriculture or buildings,” Hawkins said. You get 50 percent of that reduced, that's 14 percent really,” he said as a critique of both approaches.</p> <p>Even if climate change hasn’t taken a star turn in any general election campaigns getting media attention, activists like Sikora and Hudis-Jimenez are gearing up to keep fighting after the election. “Working towards a goal of 50 percent renewable energy is half-assing it,” Hudis-Jimenez said, promising to continue to keep the pressure on legislators to be more ambitious.</p> <p>“Whether the governor is talking about it now or not, what we want is for him to embrace [the CCPA], put it in the budget and pass it,” Sikora said. “We'll have a Senate and Assembly that is Democratic, hopefully, and in that scenario, this legislation should pass and the governor should lead the charge. We'll be coming hard on passage of that kind of legislation.”</p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/21450272963_b04fbcd901_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Gore climate change" width="600" height="404" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and former VP Gore in 2015 (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York’s 2018 gubernatorial election has largely been eclipsed, like so many things in United States politics, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8011-during-debate-molinaro-attacks-while-cuomo-ties-opponent-to-trump" target="_blank" rel="noopener">by a massive Trump-shaped shadow</a>. Within that shadow, Andrew Cuomo and Marc Molinaro have argued about the health of upstate New York, management of the MTA, and dueling corruption charges, among other topics. But one looming issue, climate change, has seemed to escape the notice of the two candidates, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report" target="_blank" rel="noopener">even as news related to it becomes more dire</a> and New York’s Legislature sits on proposals to shift the state to a 100 percent renewable energy environment.</p> <p>“I would say no, but that's generally my answer for most candidates,” Aracely Jimenez-Hudis, a member of the climate justice organization Sunrise NYC said when asked if she thought either of the major party gubernatorial candidates were talking enough about climate change. And while Jimenez-Hudis works with a group whose main focus is climate change, the fact remains that it simply isn’t an issue either candidate has decided to address this year.</p> <p>Molinaro doesn’t include a platform on climate change or the environment on his website, but told Gotham Gazette that he accepts climate change as science and that it is a trend impacted by humans; he believes in “the inherent capacity of man to overcome any challenge.” Molinaro also said he agrees with the governor’s idea to get New York to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, but that rather than the state investing large amounts of money in private companies, government “ought to create an economic climate where the industry can actually compete and thrive.” He doesn’t believe in “cutting checks,” he said, but he is open to the right blend of tax incentives and regulatory changes to encourage a greener economy.</p> <p>Beyond the question of energy sources, Molinaro said that congestion pricing as a funding mechanism for expanding public transportation and reducing street congestion, and changing zoning codes to reduce damage to the environment and make clean energy use more effective were ideas he’d look to in order to reduce emissions as a whole.</p> <p>On the trail, though, the Dutchess county executive and Republican nominee for governor has said he’s open to a “pilot program” allowing fracking in New York’s Southern Tier and has expressed a worry that New York is <a href="http://www.wellsvilledaily.com/news/20180415/five-questions-with-marc-molinaro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">missing out on an economic boom</a> by not allowing the practice. While Molinaro has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">touted his past endorsements by the Sierra Club</a> as part of his proof that he’s a different kind of Republican, the organization <a href="https://atlantic2.sierraclub.org/content/sierra-club-endorsements-new-york-state" target="_blank" rel="noopener">endorsed Cuomo over him</a> this year.</p> <p>On his own campaign website, <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/issues" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo writes that his administration</a> has made New York a national leader on climate change, casting it through the lens of resisting the Trump administration, writing that he’s “picking up the mantle of climate leadership where Washington is failing.” His office has funded <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-more-204-million-improve-storm-resiliency-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">over $20 million worth of flood protection efforts</a> on Long Island this year, and the Sierra Club endorsement for the governor notes his leadership in banning fracking in 2014 and lauds him for committing New York to generating 50 percent of its energy from renewable powers like wind and solar by 2030, but the biggest instance of the governor’s name being attached to the word “climate” this campaign was when he suggested <a href="https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/09/gov_cuomo_blames_weather_for_ny_state_population_decline.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“climate-based” reasons</a> were driving people’s decision to move out of upstate New York.</p> <p>Cuomo has campaigned little on forward-looking policy of any kind, mostly highlighting past accomplishments and staking out anti-Trump ground. When he has discussed a third-term agenda, climate change is background noise. His <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/news/governor-cuomo-and-long-island-senate-candidates-propose-nine-point-plan-make-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nine Point Pledge for a Stronger Long Island</a>, signed with each of the Democratic state Senate candidates on the island, contains passing references to “resiliency projects” and passing the governor’s bill outlawing offshore drilling in New York.</p> <p>The governor has faced his own criticism on environmental policy, including an <a href="http://bedfordandbowery.com/2018/08/8-arrested-at-governors-office-as-they-demand-cuomo-renounce-fossil-fuel-donations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">occupation of his Manhattan office</a> earlier this summer by activists with Sunrise over his refusal to sign a pledge to not take fossil fuel-linked campaign donations and for not getting behind the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Climate and Community Protection Act</a>. The CCPA, a bill that seeks to move New York to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, with power grid transitions and resiliency efforts <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2b4sxM265uZNUlDakpBdUFUY0VQWnlPdjYtdnViZFdBQU9R/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">paid for by a tax on greenhouse gas emissions</a>, got a boost of media and campaign attention during the primary campaign when Cynthia Nixon threw her support behind it. Nixon called the CCPA <a href="https://twitter.com/nychange/status/1055246479508586501" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most important work of her campaign</a> at a recent gala for New York Communities for Change, work that got her <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">kudos from environmental activists</a>. But even in the primary’s lone debate, <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cuomo-nixon-debate_us_5b8743cde4b0162f471f5667" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the bill only came up briefly</a>.</p> <p>There was no discussion of climate change in the single Cuomo-Molinaro debate, which took place last week. It’s an unfortunate turn of events according to Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate, because New York could set the tone for the way the rest of the country reacts to the issue. “What we do counts,” Hawkins said, citing the size of New York’s economy <a href="http://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-state-economies-countries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">compared to the economies of entire nations</a>, “and we think what it does for the economy, besides what it does for the climate, will set an example that other people will want to emulate. Just like Franklin Roosevelt did some public employment when he was governor and it became a model for the jobs programs of the New Deal, I think we set an example [with a Green New Deal], we get ahead of the curve and other people are gonna want to follow our lead.”</p> <p>Hawkins sees a transition to a green economy, part of what he calls a <a href="http://www.howiehawkins.org/issues_green_new_deal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Green New Deal</a>, as one of the many issues residents north of Westchester say have been ignored this year. “The thing about a serious climate action program is it’s a big economic stimulus, particularly upstate where you have to do a lot of energy installation,” Hawkins said, adding that the region could also become a manufacturing hub for green technology that could create jobs and be an example for the rest of the country.</p> <p>Cuomo has in fact focused some of his energies on creating more affordable forms of power through the <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming the Energy Vision</a> program, the umbrella strategy to move New York towards 50 percent renewable power by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 percent from their levels in the 1990s. Within that strategy, New York State has partnered with utility companies to work on <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/rev-demo-projects-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">projects testing out ways</a> to efficiently deliver green energy, has invested in workforce training in green energy and companies related to the field and has taken “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/History-of-NYSERDA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a more market-based, decentralized approach</a>” to shifting the state to renewable power. The state also has a high-stakes partnership with Tesla <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/08/01/for-tesla-the-clock-is-ticking-to-bring-jobs-to-buffalo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">that’s supposed to bring 1,460 jobs to Buffalo</a>, following the company’s acquisition of SolarCity, the solar panel manufacturer the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-solarcity-gigafactory-complex-riverbend" target="_blank" rel="noopener">state invested $750 million in</a> (an investment that was later discovered <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to be caught up in Alain Kaloyeros’ bid-rigging scheme</a>).</p> <p>The lack of climate change talk has “been the pattern in the presidential debates, and certainly in New York-level debates,” Pete Sikora, an activist with New York Communities for Change focused on environmental issues, told Gotham Gazette. “Climate change is an important issue to voters, but if you're looking at Molinaro versus Cuomo, it hasn't become a defining contrast.” NYCC endorsed Nixon in the primary.</p> <p>Hudis-Jimenez said that Nixon’s focus on the the Climate and Community Protection Act allowed her and other canvassers to do specific outreach directly to voters through climate canvasses for Nixon, which was helpful to spread the bill’s message, but ultimately not as scalable as something beamed into homes across the state.</p> <p>“More people will tune into a debate probably than are contacted by canvassing or phone-banking, so the issues that get talked about during a debate are the ones voters will think about when they're going to the polls,” she said. “So the fact that climate change got maybe five seconds [in the Cuomo-Nixon debate] said a lot about the work that still needs to be done getting climate change to be a top electoral issue.”</p> <p>“I don't know why it's not a huge issue,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told Gotham Gazette. “You would think, considering Long Island and Westchester, so much of the region was underwater, you would think it would be more of a discussion.” Part of the reason for its absence as a front and center issue, Brewer speculated, was that unlike the everyday experience for New Yorkers that is a broken subway, “we don't experience water coming into our buildings everyday.”</p> <p>It is getting to be more of an issue though, Brewer noted, though there can be a subtlety to it that hides the more dire nature of the crisis. “There's a difference between a big storm and just plain old surge. Even if you don’t get a big storm, the water surge is a different issue. So you could get something like no storm and still a high water situation,” she said, noting she got a high water alert before this weekend’s Nor’easter.</p> <p>The absence of climate change and what to do about it from the broader gubernatorial campaign also chills questions of whether even the proposals that Nixon pushed go far enough, or if something like the Green Party-supported <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s5908" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Off Fossil Fuels Act</a> is the right path for the state. That bill, sponsored by Assemblymember William Colton and state Senator Brad Hoylman (who also just <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/op-ed/saving-new-york-climate-change" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote an op-ed calling on the state to pass the CCPA</a>), both Democrats, would move New York to 100 percent clean energy by 2030, a necessary step in the face of the continuing climate crisis and what Hawkins said were insufficient proposals by Cuomo and Nixon, whose proposals both called for New York to use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.</p> <p>“They want 50 percent clean electricity by 2030, but electricity is just 28 percent of the carbon footprint, it doesn't deal with transportation, industry, agriculture or buildings,” Hawkins said. You get 50 percent of that reduced, that's 14 percent really,” he said as a critique of both approaches.</p> <p>Even if climate change hasn’t taken a star turn in any general election campaigns getting media attention, activists like Sikora and Hudis-Jimenez are gearing up to keep fighting after the election. “Working towards a goal of 50 percent renewable energy is half-assing it,” Hudis-Jimenez said, promising to continue to keep the pressure on legislators to be more ambitious.</p> <p>“Whether the governor is talking about it now or not, what we want is for him to embrace [the CCPA], put it in the budget and pass it,” Sikora said. “We'll have a Senate and Assembly that is Democratic, hopefully, and in that scenario, this legislation should pass and the governor should lead the charge. We'll be coming hard on passage of that kind of legislation.”</p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
New York Needs a Green New Deal 2018-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7946-new-york-needs-a-green-new-deal Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/govcuomo-vpgore.jpg" alt="govcuomo vpgore" width="600" height="404" /></p> <p>(photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)</p> <hr /> <p>Think of it: a bold vision that simultaneously addresses the greatest existential threat facing humanity while providing thousands of good jobs across New York. Want an added bonus?&nbsp;There won’t be a need to increase taxes on ordinary New Yorkers.</p> <p>A “Green New Deal” for New York could mean thousands of jobs and a pathway to 100% renewable energy, which will be necessary to stave off the worst effects of climate change, all paid for by charging a fee on corporate polluters that pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. &nbsp;</p> <p>We are coming off a record-breaking forest fire season on the West Coast while Hurricane Florence has ravaged the Carolinas, a year after Maria devastated Puerto Rico. And, at least in the short term, national leaders will keep their heads in the sand and continue to collect campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. States have the opportunity to set the model for how to tackle climate change, and New York can and should be one of these states.</p> <p>While Governor Cuomo has taken important steps to address climate change, including banning fracking in the state and creating the United States Climate Alliance (the coalition of states that committed to the Paris Accords following the country’s exit), New York actually lags behind other states. Only 5% of New York’s energy come from renewable sources -- compared with California’s 25% and Vermont’s 40% -- and there are multiple plans to build more fossil fuel infrastructure, guaranteeing a continued reliance on dirty energy. &nbsp;</p> <p>To truly be a climate leader and make the state the progressive model he often says it is (and position himself for any aspirations beyond Albany), Cuomo needs to pass bold legislation that puts New York on a path to 100% renewable energy. After all, just last week, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law major legislation that will do just that. What’s more, with the victories of a progressive wave of state senators on primary day, September 13, state government may be ripe for bold climate legislation this session. And that legislation already exists.</p> <p>Two bills with strong support among grassroots and labor organizations, the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) and the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA), would put New York on a trajectory towards 100% renewable energy. The CCPA calls for a just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy, while the CCIA would force those most responsible for climate change to foot the bill by charging a fee on corporate polluters.</p> <p>These bills would not only set a strong climate agenda, but would also launch a necessary jobs program at a time where there’s national concern over loss of jobs due to automation and outsourcing. By investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, New York could create thousands of jobs that pay a living wage including retrofitting buildings, installing solar panels, and updating our energy infrastructure. We could also put people to work making our state more resilient, and fix crumbling infrastructure that is increasingly vulnerable due to superstorms and sea level rise. By charging a fee on oil, gas, and coal, this all will be paid for by the fossil fuel industry, without a need to raise taxes on New Yorkers.</p> <p>A “Green New Deal in New York” could be the benchmark for other states and eventually the country to follow. It is no longer enough for politicians to claim that they “believe” in climate change. We need a real, comprehensive agenda to address this challenge head-on. In order to demonstrate climate leadership, Cuomo, assuming he wins reelection, should work with the Legislature to pass the CCPA and the CCIA as quickly as possible and set the example for the rest of the nation. &nbsp;</p> <p>***<br /> Ari R. Lieberman is an attorney and the legislative coordinator for <a href="https://twitter.com/350brooklyn">350Brooklyn</a>, a grassroots climate change organization affiliated with <a href="http://350.org/">350.org</a>. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/the_greenmarble">@the_greenmarble</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/govcuomo-vpgore.jpg" alt="govcuomo vpgore" width="600" height="404" /></p> <p>(photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)</p> <hr /> <p>Think of it: a bold vision that simultaneously addresses the greatest existential threat facing humanity while providing thousands of good jobs across New York. Want an added bonus?&nbsp;There won’t be a need to increase taxes on ordinary New Yorkers.</p> <p>A “Green New Deal” for New York could mean thousands of jobs and a pathway to 100% renewable energy, which will be necessary to stave off the worst effects of climate change, all paid for by charging a fee on corporate polluters that pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. &nbsp;</p> <p>We are coming off a record-breaking forest fire season on the West Coast while Hurricane Florence has ravaged the Carolinas, a year after Maria devastated Puerto Rico. And, at least in the short term, national leaders will keep their heads in the sand and continue to collect campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. States have the opportunity to set the model for how to tackle climate change, and New York can and should be one of these states.</p> <p>While Governor Cuomo has taken important steps to address climate change, including banning fracking in the state and creating the United States Climate Alliance (the coalition of states that committed to the Paris Accords following the country’s exit), New York actually lags behind other states. Only 5% of New York’s energy come from renewable sources -- compared with California’s 25% and Vermont’s 40% -- and there are multiple plans to build more fossil fuel infrastructure, guaranteeing a continued reliance on dirty energy. &nbsp;</p> <p>To truly be a climate leader and make the state the progressive model he often says it is (and position himself for any aspirations beyond Albany), Cuomo needs to pass bold legislation that puts New York on a path to 100% renewable energy. After all, just last week, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law major legislation that will do just that. What’s more, with the victories of a progressive wave of state senators on primary day, September 13, state government may be ripe for bold climate legislation this session. And that legislation already exists.</p> <p>Two bills with strong support among grassroots and labor organizations, the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) and the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA), would put New York on a trajectory towards 100% renewable energy. The CCPA calls for a just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy, while the CCIA would force those most responsible for climate change to foot the bill by charging a fee on corporate polluters.</p> <p>These bills would not only set a strong climate agenda, but would also launch a necessary jobs program at a time where there’s national concern over loss of jobs due to automation and outsourcing. By investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, New York could create thousands of jobs that pay a living wage including retrofitting buildings, installing solar panels, and updating our energy infrastructure. We could also put people to work making our state more resilient, and fix crumbling infrastructure that is increasingly vulnerable due to superstorms and sea level rise. By charging a fee on oil, gas, and coal, this all will be paid for by the fossil fuel industry, without a need to raise taxes on New Yorkers.</p> <p>A “Green New Deal in New York” could be the benchmark for other states and eventually the country to follow. It is no longer enough for politicians to claim that they “believe” in climate change. We need a real, comprehensive agenda to address this challenge head-on. In order to demonstrate climate leadership, Cuomo, assuming he wins reelection, should work with the Legislature to pass the CCPA and the CCIA as quickly as possible and set the example for the rest of the nation. &nbsp;</p> <p>***<br /> Ari R. Lieberman is an attorney and the legislative coordinator for <a href="https://twitter.com/350brooklyn">350Brooklyn</a>, a grassroots climate change organization affiliated with <a href="http://350.org/">350.org</a>. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/the_greenmarble">@the_greenmarble</a>.</p> <p>

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A Path to Reduce Building Energy While Preserving Affordable Housing 2018-09-05T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-05T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7915-a-path-to-reduce-building-energy-while-preserving-affordable-housing Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/affordable-housing-align-green-climate.jpg" alt="affordable housing align green climate" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p>photo via the Urban Green Council</p> <hr /> <p>When it comes to combating climate change, the stakes have never been higher. The Trump administration’s failure to address this crisis means progressive urban leaders must do much more to reduce carbon emissions – especially in large apartment buildings that contribute so heavily to climate change.<br /> <br />One of the greatest challenges to addressing carbon emissions in residential buildings is ensuring that crucial energy efficiency upgrades don’t trigger rent hikes for low- and middle-income tenants living in rent-stabilized apartments. Rent-stabilized units account for a significant percent of large multifamily building space, so it is important to find a way to address this situation. <br /> <br />The good news is that we and dozens of other organizations have joined forces on a new proposal that would tackle this challenge – among others – by reducing carbon emissions at 50,000 New York City buildings while providing a plan to avoid hitting rent-stabilized tenants with the bill.<br /> <br />The new <a href="https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/content/projects/blueprint-efficiency-80x50-buildings-partnership-report" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Blueprint for Efficiency</a> by the Urban Green Council’s 80x50 Buildings Partnership – of which we and other organizations in the Climate Works for All Coalition are members – lays out a roadmap for cutting large building energy use by 2050.<br /> <br />As the Blueprint notes, city and state law currently allow the cost of many “major capital improvements” (MCIs) – including some efficiency measures like boiler replacements – to be passed on to tenants in rent-stabilized apartments. These costs then become permanent rent increases. They can also push units toward deregulation: above a set rent threshold, the units are forced out of stabilization. For too many tenants, MCIs mean higher rents they can’t afford, or even losing an apartment for tenants who are already stretched to the limit, rather than benefiting from lower energy bills and a healthier, better-maintained home. Additionally, taking apartments out of rent stabilization reduces the affordability of our housing overall.<br /> <br />So as part of this proposal, we are recommending new rules promoting low-cost, energy-saving measures for the rent-stabilized sector that do not qualify as MCIs, and oversight to ensure that if measures cause rental increases, action is taken to change the rules. We also believe there should be support and incentives provided so that the rent-stabilized sector can achieve the same kind of efficiency gains as market-rate buildings.<br /> <br />This kind of approach allows us to achieve significant energy reduction goals across the board, while protecting rent-stabilized tenants at every turn.<br /> <br />Beyond the rent-stabilized market, affordable housing owners and nonprofits often face thin margins and financing challenges, so efficiency upgrades are rarely a priority. The Blueprint recommends helping them through greatly expanded support programs, incentives, improved access to financing, and coordination with state-level programs that help reduce energy use.<br /> <br />Working with stakeholders who don’t often find themselves in the same room together we came up with these recommendations based on robust discussion and consensus-building.<br /> <br />Alongside all the Buildings Partnership members, we look forward to working as quickly as possible with the City Council and the de Blasio administration to translate our broader proposal into new legislation that can be advanced this year.<br /> <br />This would be a real win-win for all New Yorkers who care about combating climate change and preserving affordable housing across our city.</p> <p>***<br />Maritza Silva-Farrell is Executive Director of ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York &amp; Stephan Edel is Director of New York Working Families. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MaritzaSf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MaritzaSf</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/greenjobsny" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GreenJobsNY</a>.</p> <p>

***
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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/affordable-housing-align-green-climate.jpg" alt="affordable housing align green climate" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p>photo via the Urban Green Council</p> <hr /> <p>When it comes to combating climate change, the stakes have never been higher. The Trump administration’s failure to address this crisis means progressive urban leaders must do much more to reduce carbon emissions – especially in large apartment buildings that contribute so heavily to climate change.<br /> <br />One of the greatest challenges to addressing carbon emissions in residential buildings is ensuring that crucial energy efficiency upgrades don’t trigger rent hikes for low- and middle-income tenants living in rent-stabilized apartments. Rent-stabilized units account for a significant percent of large multifamily building space, so it is important to find a way to address this situation. <br /> <br />The good news is that we and dozens of other organizations have joined forces on a new proposal that would tackle this challenge – among others – by reducing carbon emissions at 50,000 New York City buildings while providing a plan to avoid hitting rent-stabilized tenants with the bill.<br /> <br />The new <a href="https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/content/projects/blueprint-efficiency-80x50-buildings-partnership-report" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Blueprint for Efficiency</a> by the Urban Green Council’s 80x50 Buildings Partnership – of which we and other organizations in the Climate Works for All Coalition are members – lays out a roadmap for cutting large building energy use by 2050.<br /> <br />As the Blueprint notes, city and state law currently allow the cost of many “major capital improvements” (MCIs) – including some efficiency measures like boiler replacements – to be passed on to tenants in rent-stabilized apartments. These costs then become permanent rent increases. They can also push units toward deregulation: above a set rent threshold, the units are forced out of stabilization. For too many tenants, MCIs mean higher rents they can’t afford, or even losing an apartment for tenants who are already stretched to the limit, rather than benefiting from lower energy bills and a healthier, better-maintained home. Additionally, taking apartments out of rent stabilization reduces the affordability of our housing overall.<br /> <br />So as part of this proposal, we are recommending new rules promoting low-cost, energy-saving measures for the rent-stabilized sector that do not qualify as MCIs, and oversight to ensure that if measures cause rental increases, action is taken to change the rules. We also believe there should be support and incentives provided so that the rent-stabilized sector can achieve the same kind of efficiency gains as market-rate buildings.<br /> <br />This kind of approach allows us to achieve significant energy reduction goals across the board, while protecting rent-stabilized tenants at every turn.<br /> <br />Beyond the rent-stabilized market, affordable housing owners and nonprofits often face thin margins and financing challenges, so efficiency upgrades are rarely a priority. The Blueprint recommends helping them through greatly expanded support programs, incentives, improved access to financing, and coordination with state-level programs that help reduce energy use.<br /> <br />Working with stakeholders who don’t often find themselves in the same room together we came up with these recommendations based on robust discussion and consensus-building.<br /> <br />Alongside all the Buildings Partnership members, we look forward to working as quickly as possible with the City Council and the de Blasio administration to translate our broader proposal into new legislation that can be advanced this year.<br /> <br />This would be a real win-win for all New Yorkers who care about combating climate change and preserving affordable housing across our city.</p> <p>***<br />Maritza Silva-Farrell is Executive Director of ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York &amp; Stephan Edel is Director of New York Working Families. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MaritzaSf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MaritzaSf</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/greenjobsny" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GreenJobsNY</a>.</p> <p>

***
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Terrified About Climate Change? Vote Cynthia Nixon 2018-08-09T04:00:00+00:00 2018-08-09T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cynthia-nixon-gas.jpg" alt="cynthia nixon gas" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon (photo: @CynthiaNixon)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks to portray himself as a leading environmentalist. But in reality, he is too wrapped up in his own political ambitions to be the 21st century climate champion New York needs.</p> <p>The surface is rosy. Governor Cuomo formed the impressive sounding U.S. Climate Alliance, he banned fracking (while building infrastructure to transport fracked gas from nearby states) and is expanding wind farming in the state.</p> <p>Take a closer look, however, and it’s much seedier.</p> <p>While portraying himself as a climate leader, Cuomo is hoarding hundreds of thousands of dollars that he has accepted from fossil fuel companies in his campaign war chest. Recently, after facing pressure from constituent advocates and Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy, he said he would no longer accept fossil fuel-funded donations. But then he walked back that pledge, saying he misheard a question, and signaling that he is more concerned with financially positioning himself to run for President -- let’s be honest: he does not need $30 million to run for Governor -- than the wellbeing of his constituents. &nbsp;</p> <p>With thousands of New Yorkers still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, wildfires scorching the West, and Puerto Rico still not recovered from Maria, there is no excuse for a Governor who claims to be a climate champion but accepts blood money from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo has also refused to publicly support the Climate and Community Protection Act, which would shift New York off fossil fuels to a 100% renewable economy by 2050 and has the support of over 100 unions, community groups, and advocacy organizations across New York State. The CCPA has passed the State Assembly multiple times, but has stalled in the Senate, partially due to lack of support from the Governor. When asked about the legislation’s provision for completely shifting New York state to renewable energy over the next 30 years, he insisted it isn’t “practical” to make that rapid a transition.</p> <p>Polar ice caps will not stop melting to accommodate Andrew Cuomo’s political ambitions nor his sense of practicality. Ask any scientist, and they will tell you that we no longer have time for an incremental approach to climate change. As climate leader Bill McKibben has said, with climate change, winning slowly is the same as losing.</p> <p>Cynthia Nixon is running on a bold climate action agenda that includes supporting both the Climate and Community Protection Act as well as the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would levy a tax on corporate polluters, generating billions in revenue for investment in renewable energy, green jobs, and resiliency. Most important, Nixon is putting her money where her mouth is -- from the start of her campaign, she has refused all funding from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Climate consequences are here and only getting worse. Hurricanes supercharged by warming oceans, drought, heat, wildfires, flooding, rising sea levels: it is all underway. Over time, New York will suffer increasingly frequent and devastating storms and floods. Coastal towns will erode into the ocean. Changing weather patterns will impact everything from farms, fisheries, and our food supply to tourism, housing, transportation, and public health.</p> <p>We need bold, transformative leadership and we need it now. With Donald Trump in Washington, New York needs to aggressively pave its own way into an uncertain, climate-altered future. Cynthia Nixon wants to lead us there by rejecting fossil fuels, protecting vulnerable communities, and embracing a shift to a fairer, renewable energy economy. Andrew Cuomo wants to fill his wallet and run for President.</p> <p>***<br /> Liat Olenick is a public school science teacher, union leader, and co-president of non-profit Indivisible Nation BK. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/liat_ro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@Liat_RO</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/bkindivisible" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@bkindivisible</a></p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cynthia-nixon-gas.jpg" alt="cynthia nixon gas" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon (photo: @CynthiaNixon)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks to portray himself as a leading environmentalist. But in reality, he is too wrapped up in his own political ambitions to be the 21st century climate champion New York needs.</p> <p>The surface is rosy. Governor Cuomo formed the impressive sounding U.S. Climate Alliance, he banned fracking (while building infrastructure to transport fracked gas from nearby states) and is expanding wind farming in the state.</p> <p>Take a closer look, however, and it’s much seedier.</p> <p>While portraying himself as a climate leader, Cuomo is hoarding hundreds of thousands of dollars that he has accepted from fossil fuel companies in his campaign war chest. Recently, after facing pressure from constituent advocates and Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy, he said he would no longer accept fossil fuel-funded donations. But then he walked back that pledge, saying he misheard a question, and signaling that he is more concerned with financially positioning himself to run for President -- let’s be honest: he does not need $30 million to run for Governor -- than the wellbeing of his constituents. &nbsp;</p> <p>With thousands of New Yorkers still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, wildfires scorching the West, and Puerto Rico still not recovered from Maria, there is no excuse for a Governor who claims to be a climate champion but accepts blood money from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo has also refused to publicly support the Climate and Community Protection Act, which would shift New York off fossil fuels to a 100% renewable economy by 2050 and has the support of over 100 unions, community groups, and advocacy organizations across New York State. The CCPA has passed the State Assembly multiple times, but has stalled in the Senate, partially due to lack of support from the Governor. When asked about the legislation’s provision for completely shifting New York state to renewable energy over the next 30 years, he insisted it isn’t “practical” to make that rapid a transition.</p> <p>Polar ice caps will not stop melting to accommodate Andrew Cuomo’s political ambitions nor his sense of practicality. Ask any scientist, and they will tell you that we no longer have time for an incremental approach to climate change. As climate leader Bill McKibben has said, with climate change, winning slowly is the same as losing.</p> <p>Cynthia Nixon is running on a bold climate action agenda that includes supporting both the Climate and Community Protection Act as well as the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would levy a tax on corporate polluters, generating billions in revenue for investment in renewable energy, green jobs, and resiliency. Most important, Nixon is putting her money where her mouth is -- from the start of her campaign, she has refused all funding from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Climate consequences are here and only getting worse. Hurricanes supercharged by warming oceans, drought, heat, wildfires, flooding, rising sea levels: it is all underway. Over time, New York will suffer increasingly frequent and devastating storms and floods. Coastal towns will erode into the ocean. Changing weather patterns will impact everything from farms, fisheries, and our food supply to tourism, housing, transportation, and public health.</p> <p>We need bold, transformative leadership and we need it now. With Donald Trump in Washington, New York needs to aggressively pave its own way into an uncertain, climate-altered future. Cynthia Nixon wants to lead us there by rejecting fossil fuels, protecting vulnerable communities, and embracing a shift to a fairer, renewable energy economy. Andrew Cuomo wants to fill his wallet and run for President.</p> <p>***<br /> Liat Olenick is a public school science teacher, union leader, and co-president of non-profit Indivisible Nation BK. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/liat_ro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@Liat_RO</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/bkindivisible" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@bkindivisible</a></p> <p>

***
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Holding Polluters Accountable is as Important Now as Ever 2018-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7721-holding-polluters-accountable-is-as-important-now-as-ever Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/2016-adri-chall.jpg" alt="2016 adri chall" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The summer season is in full swing, with New Yorkers flocking to weekend getaways across the state, from Coney Island to Long Island beaches to the Catskills and beyond. But it is critical that we remain vigilant as good stewards of our shared natural treasures. With environmental protections under siege from the current federal administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is imperative that New Yorkers understand and exercise their civil justice rights to protect their communities and hold polluters accountable.</p> <p>For years, our ability to enjoy and access New York’s natural treasures has been made possible in part by the environmental advocacy fostered by many committed individuals and the state’s civil justice system, which allows victims to hold negligent polluters financially accountable for adverse health impacts, drinking water contamination, and property damage.</p> <p>From the Gowanus Canal to sports fields in Red Hook and the ongoing public health crisis in Hoosick Falls, we must remain strong in standing up to bad actors and polluters by protecting and exercising our civil justice rights, particularly in the absence of effective federal oversight.</p> <p>New York State’s civil justice system provides people with the ability to hold companies and industries responsible when their actions put the public at risk. In a court of law, people injured by negligence and reckless endangerment have been able to address corporate transgressions and hold bad actors accountable.</p> <p>For communities and residents up against powerful entities with overwhelming resources, the civil justice system often is the only way to get big, influential interests to do the right thing. Ordinary, hardworking New Yorkers are no match for a well-funded public relations campaign and a skilled team of professional lobbyists.</p> <p>And for victims of dangerous, debilitating diseases and conditions caused by reckless pollution, the civil justice system serves as a mechanism to account for onerous and often overwhelming medical costs. It often spurs meaningful legislative action and oversight as well, to prevent further harm.</p> <p>Over the past century, the civil court system has shaped environmental reform and delivered justice to communities time and time again. In the 1940s and 1950s, Hooker Chemical Company used a property in Niagara Falls known as Love Canal as a dumpsite for toxic chemical waste and contaminants.</p> <p>Two decades after the town of Niagara Falls took over the land and developed it for residential purposes, homeowners noticed a suspicious black fluid flowing out of the canal, leading to widespread discovery of its use as a dumpsite, as well as the pollution’s harmful health effects on the community, including higher rates of miscarriage, birth defects, and leukemia.</p> <p>Activists and residents were outraged at the company’s failure to consider the impacts of their actions or even to bother informing the community years later of what was done. Executives were never jailed or held accountable in a criminal court – but they were forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements with the EPA and affected residents.</p> <p>The Love Canal calamity is widely viewed as a catalyst for stricter federal regulations that were subsequently put in place to protect the environment and our communities.</p> <p>Fast forward to today, in Hoosick Falls, an effort is in motion to hold Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, Inc., accountable for dangerous contamination of the water supply—an important step toward bringing justice to this community and its residents.</p> <p>There should be no question that any companies that pollute our communities and poison our children will be identified, held accountable, and forced to right their wrongs. We must always be vigilant.</p> <p>Our communities, the health of our neighbors and loved ones, and our prized state environmental treasures must be protected. In an era of federal inaction, a strong civil justice system remains the cornerstone of an active and engaged public and empowers all of us to look out for and protect one another.</p> <p>***<br />Matt Funk is president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/_mattfunk" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@_mattfunk</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/2016-adri-chall.jpg" alt="2016 adri chall" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The summer season is in full swing, with New Yorkers flocking to weekend getaways across the state, from Coney Island to Long Island beaches to the Catskills and beyond. But it is critical that we remain vigilant as good stewards of our shared natural treasures. With environmental protections under siege from the current federal administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is imperative that New Yorkers understand and exercise their civil justice rights to protect their communities and hold polluters accountable.</p> <p>For years, our ability to enjoy and access New York’s natural treasures has been made possible in part by the environmental advocacy fostered by many committed individuals and the state’s civil justice system, which allows victims to hold negligent polluters financially accountable for adverse health impacts, drinking water contamination, and property damage.</p> <p>From the Gowanus Canal to sports fields in Red Hook and the ongoing public health crisis in Hoosick Falls, we must remain strong in standing up to bad actors and polluters by protecting and exercising our civil justice rights, particularly in the absence of effective federal oversight.</p> <p>New York State’s civil justice system provides people with the ability to hold companies and industries responsible when their actions put the public at risk. In a court of law, people injured by negligence and reckless endangerment have been able to address corporate transgressions and hold bad actors accountable.</p> <p>For communities and residents up against powerful entities with overwhelming resources, the civil justice system often is the only way to get big, influential interests to do the right thing. Ordinary, hardworking New Yorkers are no match for a well-funded public relations campaign and a skilled team of professional lobbyists.</p> <p>And for victims of dangerous, debilitating diseases and conditions caused by reckless pollution, the civil justice system serves as a mechanism to account for onerous and often overwhelming medical costs. It often spurs meaningful legislative action and oversight as well, to prevent further harm.</p> <p>Over the past century, the civil court system has shaped environmental reform and delivered justice to communities time and time again. In the 1940s and 1950s, Hooker Chemical Company used a property in Niagara Falls known as Love Canal as a dumpsite for toxic chemical waste and contaminants.</p> <p>Two decades after the town of Niagara Falls took over the land and developed it for residential purposes, homeowners noticed a suspicious black fluid flowing out of the canal, leading to widespread discovery of its use as a dumpsite, as well as the pollution’s harmful health effects on the community, including higher rates of miscarriage, birth defects, and leukemia.</p> <p>Activists and residents were outraged at the company’s failure to consider the impacts of their actions or even to bother informing the community years later of what was done. Executives were never jailed or held accountable in a criminal court – but they were forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements with the EPA and affected residents.</p> <p>The Love Canal calamity is widely viewed as a catalyst for stricter federal regulations that were subsequently put in place to protect the environment and our communities.</p> <p>Fast forward to today, in Hoosick Falls, an effort is in motion to hold Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, Inc., accountable for dangerous contamination of the water supply—an important step toward bringing justice to this community and its residents.</p> <p>There should be no question that any companies that pollute our communities and poison our children will be identified, held accountable, and forced to right their wrongs. We must always be vigilant.</p> <p>Our communities, the health of our neighbors and loved ones, and our prized state environmental treasures must be protected. In an era of federal inaction, a strong civil justice system remains the cornerstone of an active and engaged public and empowers all of us to look out for and protect one another.</p> <p>***<br />Matt Funk is president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/_mattfunk" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@_mattfunk</a>.</p> <p>

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City's Energy Reduction Program Saves Millions 2018-04-10T04:00:00+00:00 2018-04-10T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7605-city-s-energy-reduction-program-save-millions Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/37182974122_a3cb1f6577_z.jpg" alt="solar panels de Blasio energy" width="600" height="400" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A city energy announcement (Ed Reed/Mayor’s Office)</p> <hr /> <p>A de Blasio administration program to reduce the energy consumption of city agencies has yielded millions of dollars in rebates for the city from energy providers.</p> <p>The Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which manages properties and resources for city agencies, received $9.3 million for cutting back on energy use during peak demand hours last summer. The program, called Demand Response, is in place at 414 municipal facilities and cultural institutions under 25 agencies, including DCAS.</p> <p>“The Demand Response program is a common-sense way to reduce energy use, prevent brownouts and blackouts, and save taxpayer dollars,” said DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo, in a statement. “You can’t have the City that doesn’t sleep if you have a City that doesn’t have power.”</p> <p>As is common each year, the city’s electricity usage peaks during heat waves, running the risk of disruptions to the entire power grid. Under the Demand Response program, DCAS -- which administers city buildings, vehicles, and more -- is rewarded for limiting the use of equipment and air conditioning, and other measures, when it receives warnings from the New York Independent System Operator and the utility company Con Edison that electricity demand may outpace supply.</p> <p>The program reduced the power load by 75 megawatts over the summer of 2017, when there were three peak demand events and and three system tests, according to information provided by DCAS. Two more agencies have also joined the program since then. In the same time, private sector firms that are enrolled in the program reduced their load by 317 megawatts. <br /> <br />“The Demand Response actions by City government agency staff and facility operators reduce the extent to which extra power plants have to be used during peak periods,” said Anthony Fiore, DCAS deputy commissioner and chief energy management officer, in a statement.</p> <p>The energy reduction program is a small part of the de Blasio administration’s larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city. Last year, after President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, Mayor de Blasio passed his own executive order committing the city to follow the principles of the accord. In September, the mayor announced additional initiatives and mandates to retrofit 14,500 of the city’s most energy-inefficient buildings.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/37182974122_a3cb1f6577_z.jpg" alt="solar panels de Blasio energy" width="600" height="400" />&nbsp;</p> <p>A city energy announcement (Ed Reed/Mayor’s Office)</p> <hr /> <p>A de Blasio administration program to reduce the energy consumption of city agencies has yielded millions of dollars in rebates for the city from energy providers.</p> <p>The Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which manages properties and resources for city agencies, received $9.3 million for cutting back on energy use during peak demand hours last summer. The program, called Demand Response, is in place at 414 municipal facilities and cultural institutions under 25 agencies, including DCAS.</p> <p>“The Demand Response program is a common-sense way to reduce energy use, prevent brownouts and blackouts, and save taxpayer dollars,” said DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo, in a statement. “You can’t have the City that doesn’t sleep if you have a City that doesn’t have power.”</p> <p>As is common each year, the city’s electricity usage peaks during heat waves, running the risk of disruptions to the entire power grid. Under the Demand Response program, DCAS -- which administers city buildings, vehicles, and more -- is rewarded for limiting the use of equipment and air conditioning, and other measures, when it receives warnings from the New York Independent System Operator and the utility company Con Edison that electricity demand may outpace supply.</p> <p>The program reduced the power load by 75 megawatts over the summer of 2017, when there were three peak demand events and and three system tests, according to information provided by DCAS. Two more agencies have also joined the program since then. In the same time, private sector firms that are enrolled in the program reduced their load by 317 megawatts. <br /> <br />“The Demand Response actions by City government agency staff and facility operators reduce the extent to which extra power plants have to be used during peak periods,” said Anthony Fiore, DCAS deputy commissioner and chief energy management officer, in a statement.</p> <p>The energy reduction program is a small part of the de Blasio administration’s larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city. Last year, after President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, Mayor de Blasio passed his own executive order committing the city to follow the principles of the accord. In September, the mayor announced additional initiatives and mandates to retrofit 14,500 of the city’s most energy-inefficient buildings.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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