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 2019-04-23T00:42:38+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Max & Murphy Podcast: The City Council Takes on Climate Change 2019-04-17T04:00:00+00:00 2019-04-17T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8460-max-murphy-podcast-the-city-council-takes-on-climate-change Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/costa-const-600.jpg" alt="costa const 600" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Constantinides (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>April 17, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: The City Council Takes on Climate Change<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/costa-const-150.jpg" alt="costa const 150" width="150" height="175" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />City Council Member Costa Constantinides joined the show to discuss a package of legislation he's shepherding through the City Council that aim to fight climate change, including by major requirements for reducing building carbon emissions, as well as his vision for the future of Rikers Island, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/607566285&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/costa-const-600.jpg" alt="costa const 600" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Constantinides (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>April 17, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: The City Council Takes on Climate Change<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/costa-const-150.jpg" alt="costa const 150" width="150" height="175" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />City Council Member Costa Constantinides joined the show to discuss a package of legislation he's shepherding through the City Council that aim to fight climate change, including by major requirements for reducing building carbon emissions, as well as his vision for the future of Rikers Island, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/607566285&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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It’s Time to Get Big Money Out of the Climate Change Fight 2019-04-08T04:00:00+00:00 2019-04-08T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8435-it-s-time-to-get-big-money-out-of-the-climate-change-fight Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/gnd4ny_divestny.jpg" alt="gnd4ny divestny" width="600" height="425" /></p> <p>(photo: John McCarten/NY City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The window for meaningful action on climate change <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/">is narrowing</a>. Every year, as more <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171116105020.htm">climate impacts</a> <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/temperature-rise-locked-coming-decades-arctic">become “locked-in</a>,” changes we have to make to save the planet become even harder to implement. Right now, fossil fuel industry campaign contributions to politicians are holding back the solutions we need. &nbsp;</p> <p>If we want to pass climate policies that could actually help reverse the climate crisis, then we also need to fix our democratic system that gives too much power to wealthy donors and big polluters. In New York, a state where wealthy donors contribute an <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/new-yorks-wealthiest-played-outsized-role-funding-2018-campaigns">outsized proportion</a> of funds to campaigns, we have the opportunity to build a public campaign financing system that can address this imbalance. These two crises are interconnected.</p> <p>Nationally, the fossil fuel industry has tightened its stranglehold on American politics. In the 2018 election cycle alone, $89 million in campaign contributions came from the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E01">oil, gas</a>, and <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E1210">coal</a> industry with the vast majority going to Republicans. Contributions from the fossil fuels sector put a stop to <a href="https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/11/7/18069940/election-results-2018-energy-carbon-fracking-ballot-initiatives">ballot initiatives</a> that would have created landmark state climate and energy legislation here in New York—and across the nation.</p> <p>In the battle over fracked gas development in New York, oil, gas, and fracking support industries spent $10.7 million on contributions and $33.5 million on lobbying <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/attachments.readmedia.com/files/55339/original/Deep_Drilling_Deep_Pockets_2014--FinalVersion.pdf?1389624959">from 2007 to 2013, stalling several fracking restriction measures.</a> While grassroots activists eventually succeeded in pushing Governor Cuomo to take executive action to ban fracking, this influx of pro-fracking cash signals potentially bigger battles ahead as the state considers a 100% renewable energy target.</p> <p>In 2018 in Washington state, <a href="https://www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/campaign-explorer/committee?filer_id=NO1631%20507&amp;election_year=2018">$31.5 million</a> was pumped mostly from mostly out-of-state oil and gas industry into a campaign that ultimately defeated a carbon tax measure that would create revenue for renewable energy and vulnerable communities. And a proposition that would have set restrictions on gas fracking in Colorado was defeated after oil and gas spent over <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_112,_Minimum_Distance_Requirements_for_New_Oil,_Gas,_and_Fracking_Projects_Initiative_(2018)#cite_note-supportfin-53">$26 million</a> in the state.</p> <p>That is why a growing chorus of environmental advocates is calling for public financing of elections — which expands the contributions of small donors through public matching programs. With a fair elections system, elected officials would be more responsive to the electorate, an <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-october-2017/2/">overwhelming majority</a> of which believes we need bold policies to address climate change.</p> <p>One of our best hopes today is here in New York, where lawmakers are on the cusp of passing groundbreaking climate policy and the state budget has just included a commission mandated to develop a public financing system for the state.</p> <p>Public financing of elections would fundamentally change how Albany works, and <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/small-donor-public-financing-ny">amplify the power</a> of working people and people of color. In the long term, fair elections mean that our elected officials will be more engaged with constituents in their districts and responsive to public concerns and needs.</p> <p>To implement an effective fair elections program, legislators and Governor Cuomo must appoint commissioners committed to expanding access to our democracy. A robust program would also include a 6-to-1 contribution match for low-dollar sums, lower contribution limits, and an independent agency to administer the program. In order to limit the influence of big donors who seek to block effective climate policy and other urgent reforms, the commission must act quickly and decisively. Kicking the can down the road is not an option.</p> <p>Simultaneously we can pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) to put New York on a path to 100% renewable energy economy-wide. The CCPA is ground-up policy, with <a href="https://www.nyrenews.org/">a coalition</a> of over 160 groups from across the state backing the proposal. The bill puts in place requirements for energy investments to go to disadvantaged communities, and working groups that include community group representatives to oversee implementation of state energy plans. This means more people could be part of shaping an equitable energy transition for New York.</p> <p>The impacts of climate change are not felt equally by all. We need to ensure a more inclusive political process to address everyone’s needs, especially those most vulnerable to climate impacts and pollution, and communities that have been historically excluded from political decision-making.</p> <p>We have the technology we need to begin a rapid transition to a renewable energy economy. Our ability to implement climate solutions is, therefore, a political question. With the <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2018/">majority of New Yorkers</a> in support of government action to curb climate change, a legislature that is more responsive to the electorate could usher the ambitious climate policies we need. Public financing and bold climate measures like the CCPA can reorient our politics to expand who is heard and who is at the table.</p> <p>***<br />Bill Lipton is the New York State Director of the Working Families Party. Adrien Salazar is a Campaign Strategist with Dēmos and one of the 2019 <a href="https://grist.org/grist-50/2019/">Grist 50 Fixers</a>. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/BillLipton">@BillLipton</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/NYWFP">@NYWFP</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/adrien4ej">@adrien4ej</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/Demos_Org">@Demos_Org</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/gnd4ny_divestny.jpg" alt="gnd4ny divestny" width="600" height="425" /></p> <p>(photo: John McCarten/NY City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The window for meaningful action on climate change <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/">is narrowing</a>. Every year, as more <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171116105020.htm">climate impacts</a> <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/temperature-rise-locked-coming-decades-arctic">become “locked-in</a>,” changes we have to make to save the planet become even harder to implement. Right now, fossil fuel industry campaign contributions to politicians are holding back the solutions we need. &nbsp;</p> <p>If we want to pass climate policies that could actually help reverse the climate crisis, then we also need to fix our democratic system that gives too much power to wealthy donors and big polluters. In New York, a state where wealthy donors contribute an <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/new-yorks-wealthiest-played-outsized-role-funding-2018-campaigns">outsized proportion</a> of funds to campaigns, we have the opportunity to build a public campaign financing system that can address this imbalance. These two crises are interconnected.</p> <p>Nationally, the fossil fuel industry has tightened its stranglehold on American politics. In the 2018 election cycle alone, $89 million in campaign contributions came from the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E01">oil, gas</a>, and <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E1210">coal</a> industry with the vast majority going to Republicans. Contributions from the fossil fuels sector put a stop to <a href="https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/11/7/18069940/election-results-2018-energy-carbon-fracking-ballot-initiatives">ballot initiatives</a> that would have created landmark state climate and energy legislation here in New York—and across the nation.</p> <p>In the battle over fracked gas development in New York, oil, gas, and fracking support industries spent $10.7 million on contributions and $33.5 million on lobbying <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/attachments.readmedia.com/files/55339/original/Deep_Drilling_Deep_Pockets_2014--FinalVersion.pdf?1389624959">from 2007 to 2013, stalling several fracking restriction measures.</a> While grassroots activists eventually succeeded in pushing Governor Cuomo to take executive action to ban fracking, this influx of pro-fracking cash signals potentially bigger battles ahead as the state considers a 100% renewable energy target.</p> <p>In 2018 in Washington state, <a href="https://www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/campaign-explorer/committee?filer_id=NO1631%20507&amp;election_year=2018">$31.5 million</a> was pumped mostly from mostly out-of-state oil and gas industry into a campaign that ultimately defeated a carbon tax measure that would create revenue for renewable energy and vulnerable communities. And a proposition that would have set restrictions on gas fracking in Colorado was defeated after oil and gas spent over <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_112,_Minimum_Distance_Requirements_for_New_Oil,_Gas,_and_Fracking_Projects_Initiative_(2018)#cite_note-supportfin-53">$26 million</a> in the state.</p> <p>That is why a growing chorus of environmental advocates is calling for public financing of elections — which expands the contributions of small donors through public matching programs. With a fair elections system, elected officials would be more responsive to the electorate, an <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-october-2017/2/">overwhelming majority</a> of which believes we need bold policies to address climate change.</p> <p>One of our best hopes today is here in New York, where lawmakers are on the cusp of passing groundbreaking climate policy and the state budget has just included a commission mandated to develop a public financing system for the state.</p> <p>Public financing of elections would fundamentally change how Albany works, and <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/small-donor-public-financing-ny">amplify the power</a> of working people and people of color. In the long term, fair elections mean that our elected officials will be more engaged with constituents in their districts and responsive to public concerns and needs.</p> <p>To implement an effective fair elections program, legislators and Governor Cuomo must appoint commissioners committed to expanding access to our democracy. A robust program would also include a 6-to-1 contribution match for low-dollar sums, lower contribution limits, and an independent agency to administer the program. In order to limit the influence of big donors who seek to block effective climate policy and other urgent reforms, the commission must act quickly and decisively. Kicking the can down the road is not an option.</p> <p>Simultaneously we can pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) to put New York on a path to 100% renewable energy economy-wide. The CCPA is ground-up policy, with <a href="https://www.nyrenews.org/">a coalition</a> of over 160 groups from across the state backing the proposal. The bill puts in place requirements for energy investments to go to disadvantaged communities, and working groups that include community group representatives to oversee implementation of state energy plans. This means more people could be part of shaping an equitable energy transition for New York.</p> <p>The impacts of climate change are not felt equally by all. We need to ensure a more inclusive political process to address everyone’s needs, especially those most vulnerable to climate impacts and pollution, and communities that have been historically excluded from political decision-making.</p> <p>We have the technology we need to begin a rapid transition to a renewable energy economy. Our ability to implement climate solutions is, therefore, a political question. With the <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2018/">majority of New Yorkers</a> in support of government action to curb climate change, a legislature that is more responsive to the electorate could usher the ambitious climate policies we need. Public financing and bold climate measures like the CCPA can reorient our politics to expand who is heard and who is at the table.</p> <p>***<br />Bill Lipton is the New York State Director of the Working Families Party. Adrien Salazar is a Campaign Strategist with Dēmos and one of the 2019 <a href="https://grist.org/grist-50/2019/">Grist 50 Fixers</a>. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/BillLipton">@BillLipton</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/NYWFP">@NYWFP</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/adrien4ej">@adrien4ej</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/Demos_Org">@Demos_Org</a>.</p> <p>

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Invest in City Parks to Improve Our Public Spaces and Save the Environment 2019-04-07T04:00:00+00:00 2019-04-07T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8427-invest-in-city-parks-to-improve-our-outdoor-playspaces-and-save-the-environment Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/d1yd7nbx0aafoht.jpg" alt="d1yd7nbx0aafoht" width="600" height="351" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;@RiversideParkNY)</p> <hr /> <p>Parks are an essential part of any city’s infrastructure. Getting into nature at an urban park<a href="http://www.gardinergreenribbon.com/parks-mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> lowers stress, eases depression, and fosters happiness</a>. Parks help build community - people get out and meet each other, kids play together, mothers talk, residents meet neighbors.</p> <p>Parks are particularly invaluable in<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> New York City, the nation’s most densely populated</a> city. And we are fortunate to have so many parks to enjoy! More than<a href="https://parkscore.tpl.org/rankings_advanced.php#sm.00014p0ek1ve9eexsar28bljzx7n3" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 81% of New Yorkers</a> are within walking distance of public green space. New Yorkers are visiting city parks in unprecedented numbers. The city’s parks get more than<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7769-revitalizing-new-york-s-aging-parks" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 100 million visitors</a> a year.</p> <p>More than just places to commune and recreate, these greenspaces are also one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets. They provide clean air, help mitigate climate change, connect residents with nature, and provide habitat for wildlife.</p> <p>Parks are a major source of the city’s urban tree canopy. That canopy removes<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1,300 tons of pollutants</a> from the atmosphere and stores<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1.2 million tons</a> of carbon per year. Trees are vital for<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> mitigating the urban heat island effect</a> and can lower air temperatures by up to nine degrees, cut air conditioning use by 30%, and reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50% -- all of which help decrease climate-changing emissions.</p> <p>The city’s parks and trees also contribute to our resiliency, capturing almost<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 2 billion gallons</a> of stormwater runoff each year.</p> <p>The New York City Parks Department manages<a href="https://www.nycgovparks.org/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 30,000 acres of land</a>, about 14% of the city. Sadly, Parks receives less than<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1% of the total city budget</a>, leaving our greenspaces at risk.</p> <p>This is shameful. While New York spends<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> $178 per capita on its parks. Minneapolis spends $233, and Washington D.C. spends $270.</a></p> <p>The average city park has not seen a major renovation for more than 20 years. According to a<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Center for an Urban Future</a> report, there are cracks in virtually every retaining wall in city parks, deteriorating bridges, toilets that flush directly into waterways, drainage systems that can’t handle the runoff from even a gentle rainfall, and myriad other problems. Managers can’t do any kind of systematic planning and major infrastructure projects are often put on hold for years.</p> <p>Inadequate funding for proper maintenance has also led to a rise of invasive species in parks. Just over a year ago,<a href="https://patch.com/new-york/parkslope/invasive-beetles-found-prospect-park" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> invasive beetles were found in Prospect Park</a> that cut off the supply of water and essential nutrients to trees.</p> <p>The great irony of all of this is that New York’s parks are iconic.<a href="http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/park-history.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Central Park</a> and<a href="https://ny.curbed.com/2013/8/7/10210902/25-little-known-facts-about-olmsted-vauxs-masterpiece" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Prospect Park</a> are routinely found on top parks lists.</p> <p>That’s why NYLCV has joined the Play Fair coalition with New Yorkers for Parks, DC 37, and more than 100 other groups.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Play Fair</a> is a multi-year advocacy campaign for parks and this year, we are calling for increasing the Parks Department budget by $100 million for better maintenance.</p> <p>This investment could ensure that the city’s natural forests will begin to receive the proactive care they need to remain healthy and resilient in our changing climate. Maintenance workers would have the resources they need to protect our trees from invasive species and maintain the trees we need to absorb carbon and air pollution.</p> <p>It would go a long way towards fulfilling the goals of the 25-year<a href="http://naturalareasnyc.org/forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Forest Management Framework</a> for the restoration and conservation of the city’s hard-working natural forests, for which NYLCV has been advocating.</p> <p>Investing in maintaining our parks will make New York City more sustainable, improve resiliency, and conserve nature. It’s time we Play Fair for our parks.</p> <p>***<br />Julie Tighe is President of the New York League of Conservation Voters (<a href="https://nylcv.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NYLCV</a>), the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/julietighe17" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@julietighe17</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/nylcv" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@nylcv</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/d1yd7nbx0aafoht.jpg" alt="d1yd7nbx0aafoht" width="600" height="351" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;@RiversideParkNY)</p> <hr /> <p>Parks are an essential part of any city’s infrastructure. Getting into nature at an urban park<a href="http://www.gardinergreenribbon.com/parks-mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> lowers stress, eases depression, and fosters happiness</a>. Parks help build community - people get out and meet each other, kids play together, mothers talk, residents meet neighbors.</p> <p>Parks are particularly invaluable in<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> New York City, the nation’s most densely populated</a> city. And we are fortunate to have so many parks to enjoy! More than<a href="https://parkscore.tpl.org/rankings_advanced.php#sm.00014p0ek1ve9eexsar28bljzx7n3" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 81% of New Yorkers</a> are within walking distance of public green space. New Yorkers are visiting city parks in unprecedented numbers. The city’s parks get more than<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7769-revitalizing-new-york-s-aging-parks" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 100 million visitors</a> a year.</p> <p>More than just places to commune and recreate, these greenspaces are also one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets. They provide clean air, help mitigate climate change, connect residents with nature, and provide habitat for wildlife.</p> <p>Parks are a major source of the city’s urban tree canopy. That canopy removes<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1,300 tons of pollutants</a> from the atmosphere and stores<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1.2 million tons</a> of carbon per year. Trees are vital for<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> mitigating the urban heat island effect</a> and can lower air temperatures by up to nine degrees, cut air conditioning use by 30%, and reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50% -- all of which help decrease climate-changing emissions.</p> <p>The city’s parks and trees also contribute to our resiliency, capturing almost<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 2 billion gallons</a> of stormwater runoff each year.</p> <p>The New York City Parks Department manages<a href="https://www.nycgovparks.org/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 30,000 acres of land</a>, about 14% of the city. Sadly, Parks receives less than<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1% of the total city budget</a>, leaving our greenspaces at risk.</p> <p>This is shameful. While New York spends<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> $178 per capita on its parks. Minneapolis spends $233, and Washington D.C. spends $270.</a></p> <p>The average city park has not seen a major renovation for more than 20 years. According to a<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Center for an Urban Future</a> report, there are cracks in virtually every retaining wall in city parks, deteriorating bridges, toilets that flush directly into waterways, drainage systems that can’t handle the runoff from even a gentle rainfall, and myriad other problems. Managers can’t do any kind of systematic planning and major infrastructure projects are often put on hold for years.</p> <p>Inadequate funding for proper maintenance has also led to a rise of invasive species in parks. Just over a year ago,<a href="https://patch.com/new-york/parkslope/invasive-beetles-found-prospect-park" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> invasive beetles were found in Prospect Park</a> that cut off the supply of water and essential nutrients to trees.</p> <p>The great irony of all of this is that New York’s parks are iconic.<a href="http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/park-history.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Central Park</a> and<a href="https://ny.curbed.com/2013/8/7/10210902/25-little-known-facts-about-olmsted-vauxs-masterpiece" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Prospect Park</a> are routinely found on top parks lists.</p> <p>That’s why NYLCV has joined the Play Fair coalition with New Yorkers for Parks, DC 37, and more than 100 other groups.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Play Fair</a> is a multi-year advocacy campaign for parks and this year, we are calling for increasing the Parks Department budget by $100 million for better maintenance.</p> <p>This investment could ensure that the city’s natural forests will begin to receive the proactive care they need to remain healthy and resilient in our changing climate. Maintenance workers would have the resources they need to protect our trees from invasive species and maintain the trees we need to absorb carbon and air pollution.</p> <p>It would go a long way towards fulfilling the goals of the 25-year<a href="http://naturalareasnyc.org/forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Forest Management Framework</a> for the restoration and conservation of the city’s hard-working natural forests, for which NYLCV has been advocating.</p> <p>Investing in maintaining our parks will make New York City more sustainable, improve resiliency, and conserve nature. It’s time we Play Fair for our parks.</p> <p>***<br />Julie Tighe is President of the New York League of Conservation Voters (<a href="https://nylcv.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NYLCV</a>), the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/julietighe17" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@julietighe17</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/nylcv" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@nylcv</a>.</p> <p>

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The Route to Cleaner Air for Communities of Color and Low Income: Electric Buses and Congestion Pricing 2019-03-19T04:00:00+00:00 2019-03-19T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8366-the-route-to-cleaner-air-for-communities-of-color-and-low-income-electric-buses-and-congestion-pricing Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-cuomo-sign-upgrade-mta.jpg" alt="gov cuomo sign upgrade mta" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(photo: governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Your zip code and how much money you make can determine your health and quality of life in New York City – including the quality of the air you breathe.</p> <p>Recent data from <em>The New York City Community Air Survey</em> shows that certain neighborhoods have more particulate matter and black carbon than others. It should come as no surprise that many of these areas – like East Harlem, Washington Heights, or the South Bronx – are largely inhabited by people of color or people with lower incomes, who historically bear a disproportionate burden of the effects of environmental pollution.</p> <p>Poor air quality leads to increased lung disease and asthma, especially for kids and older people. It can result in higher doctor bills and more missed days of work or school, and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/climate/air-pollution-deaths.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cut months or even years</a> off of our lives.</p> <p>The city and the state should do everything possible to improve air quality in pollution hot-spots. Yet, in the neighborhoods where air quality is poorest, MTA New York City Transit buses are also the oldest – and thus most-polluting. The depots where the buses are stored are disproportionately located in these areas, resulting in more idling and frequent in-and-out trip movements, all adding to poorer air quality.</p> <p>That’s why there is a pressing need to electrify the city’s buses, reducing exhaust and cleaning the air. New York City knows bus electrification is important: the city set a goal for an all-electric bus fleet by 2040 “to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions." New electric buses should first be deployed in neighborhoods with the worst air quality.</p> <p>But there’s still a question of funding the transition to an electric citywide bus fleet. In his draft budget for next state fiscal year, Governor Cuomo focuses on congestion pricing as a key source of capital.</p> <p>Congestion pricing asks drivers to pay a surcharge when they enter Manhattan south of 60th Street and north of Battery Park. The revenue generated would then be put toward other transportation infrastructure repairs—e.g., our broken mass transit system.</p> <p>The city’s public transit system is deeply intertwined with New Yorkers’ quality of life. People rely on the buses and trains to get to their jobs, schools, and families in a timely and affordable way. They should be able to do so without dirtying the air in local communities and contributing to the environmental burden they already face. New York needs congestion pricing to begin transitioning the city’s buses to clean, electric vehicles.</p> <p>***<br /> Cecil D. Corbin-Mark is deputy director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/CecilCorbinMark" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@CecilCorbinMark</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/weact4ej" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@weact4ej</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/gov-cuomo-sign-upgrade-mta.jpg" alt="gov cuomo sign upgrade mta" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>(photo: governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Your zip code and how much money you make can determine your health and quality of life in New York City – including the quality of the air you breathe.</p> <p>Recent data from <em>The New York City Community Air Survey</em> shows that certain neighborhoods have more particulate matter and black carbon than others. It should come as no surprise that many of these areas – like East Harlem, Washington Heights, or the South Bronx – are largely inhabited by people of color or people with lower incomes, who historically bear a disproportionate burden of the effects of environmental pollution.</p> <p>Poor air quality leads to increased lung disease and asthma, especially for kids and older people. It can result in higher doctor bills and more missed days of work or school, and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/climate/air-pollution-deaths.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cut months or even years</a> off of our lives.</p> <p>The city and the state should do everything possible to improve air quality in pollution hot-spots. Yet, in the neighborhoods where air quality is poorest, MTA New York City Transit buses are also the oldest – and thus most-polluting. The depots where the buses are stored are disproportionately located in these areas, resulting in more idling and frequent in-and-out trip movements, all adding to poorer air quality.</p> <p>That’s why there is a pressing need to electrify the city’s buses, reducing exhaust and cleaning the air. New York City knows bus electrification is important: the city set a goal for an all-electric bus fleet by 2040 “to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions." New electric buses should first be deployed in neighborhoods with the worst air quality.</p> <p>But there’s still a question of funding the transition to an electric citywide bus fleet. In his draft budget for next state fiscal year, Governor Cuomo focuses on congestion pricing as a key source of capital.</p> <p>Congestion pricing asks drivers to pay a surcharge when they enter Manhattan south of 60th Street and north of Battery Park. The revenue generated would then be put toward other transportation infrastructure repairs—e.g., our broken mass transit system.</p> <p>The city’s public transit system is deeply intertwined with New Yorkers’ quality of life. People rely on the buses and trains to get to their jobs, schools, and families in a timely and affordable way. They should be able to do so without dirtying the air in local communities and contributing to the environmental burden they already face. New York needs congestion pricing to begin transitioning the city’s buses to clean, electric vehicles.</p> <p>***<br /> Cecil D. Corbin-Mark is deputy director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/CecilCorbinMark" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@CecilCorbinMark</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/weact4ej" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@weact4ej</a>.</p> <p>

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Seizing the Moment for Bold Climate, Green Job & Environmental Justice Legislation in New York 2019-03-18T04:00:00+00:00 2019-03-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8367-seizing-the-moment-for-bold-climate-green-job-environmental-justice-legislation-in-new-york Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/aerial-solar-panels.jpg" alt="aerial solar panels" width="600" height="379" /></p> <p>(photo: mayor's office on flickr)</p> <hr /> <p>On Friday, March 15, over 1 million students from 125 countries walked out of school to demand that we act on climate change. &nbsp;As New Yorkers, we’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change in our communities. We all remember the damage to homes, lives, and communities caused by Superstorm Sandy, and we know we’ll face more intense storms in the future. As summers get longer and hotter, more of our elderly neighbors will be at risk for heat stroke or even death.</p> <p>We also know that the impacts of climate change do not &nbsp;affect everyone the same way. From heat waves to hurricanes to sea-level rise, low-income communities, communities of color, and communities historically burdened by polluting and extractive industries are often more vulnerable to climate risks.</p> <p>But discussion of climate change does not have to be all doom and gloom. In New York State, we have an opportunity to move to a fossil-fuel-free economy while also investing in good, high-wage jobs and creating real investment in communities most impacted by the climate change.</p> <p>If we want a carbon-free future, or some would say, any future, we need to reduce our emissions from all sources and we need to set an enforceable timeline to do it.</p> <p>This crisis gives us an opportunity to re-imagine our priorities as a state. It will take planning and investments to move to a fossil-free future. We need to direct some of those investments to marginalized communities and people already hurt by the climate crisis. We need to make sure green jobs pay livable wages, and create opportunities among low- and middle-income communities across the state. We need to end our dependence on fossil fuels while building a better economy that does its best not to leave anyone &nbsp;behind.</p> <p>This is part of the reason why I sponsor the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which has passed in the State Assembly three years in a row. &nbsp;This year has brought with it more opportunities, and the time is right to create a green and equitable future.</p> <p>The CCPA has the support of over 160 grassroots community, labor, and environmental organizations. It creates an enforceable timeline to move our entire economy to 100% renewable energy by no later than 2050. It is based on the timeline scientists recommend to avoid catastrophe. It also includes the strongest equity provisions in the nation to invest in communities hit hardest by the climate crisis.</p> <p>The CCPA is about more than just the environment. Under the bill, 40 percent of state funds directed towards greening our economy would go to environmental justice communities. That includes low-income communities, communities of color, and folks at high risk of being adversely impacted by major storms or sea-level rise, and communities already experiencing polluted air and water from carbon-burning facilities.</p> <p>The CCPA also sets wage and apprenticeship standards so that new green jobs are well-paying, livable jobs. It is estimated that the CCPA will generate the creation of 150,000 jobs related to the green energy transition, revitalizing communities and providing opportunities for New Yorkers across the state.</p> <p>We can and should get this done this year.</p> <p>***<br /> Assemblymember Steven Englebright represents parts of Long Island. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/SteveEngles" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@SteveEngles</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/aerial-solar-panels.jpg" alt="aerial solar panels" width="600" height="379" /></p> <p>(photo: mayor's office on flickr)</p> <hr /> <p>On Friday, March 15, over 1 million students from 125 countries walked out of school to demand that we act on climate change. &nbsp;As New Yorkers, we’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change in our communities. We all remember the damage to homes, lives, and communities caused by Superstorm Sandy, and we know we’ll face more intense storms in the future. As summers get longer and hotter, more of our elderly neighbors will be at risk for heat stroke or even death.</p> <p>We also know that the impacts of climate change do not &nbsp;affect everyone the same way. From heat waves to hurricanes to sea-level rise, low-income communities, communities of color, and communities historically burdened by polluting and extractive industries are often more vulnerable to climate risks.</p> <p>But discussion of climate change does not have to be all doom and gloom. In New York State, we have an opportunity to move to a fossil-fuel-free economy while also investing in good, high-wage jobs and creating real investment in communities most impacted by the climate change.</p> <p>If we want a carbon-free future, or some would say, any future, we need to reduce our emissions from all sources and we need to set an enforceable timeline to do it.</p> <p>This crisis gives us an opportunity to re-imagine our priorities as a state. It will take planning and investments to move to a fossil-free future. We need to direct some of those investments to marginalized communities and people already hurt by the climate crisis. We need to make sure green jobs pay livable wages, and create opportunities among low- and middle-income communities across the state. We need to end our dependence on fossil fuels while building a better economy that does its best not to leave anyone &nbsp;behind.</p> <p>This is part of the reason why I sponsor the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which has passed in the State Assembly three years in a row. &nbsp;This year has brought with it more opportunities, and the time is right to create a green and equitable future.</p> <p>The CCPA has the support of over 160 grassroots community, labor, and environmental organizations. It creates an enforceable timeline to move our entire economy to 100% renewable energy by no later than 2050. It is based on the timeline scientists recommend to avoid catastrophe. It also includes the strongest equity provisions in the nation to invest in communities hit hardest by the climate crisis.</p> <p>The CCPA is about more than just the environment. Under the bill, 40 percent of state funds directed towards greening our economy would go to environmental justice communities. That includes low-income communities, communities of color, and folks at high risk of being adversely impacted by major storms or sea-level rise, and communities already experiencing polluted air and water from carbon-burning facilities.</p> <p>The CCPA also sets wage and apprenticeship standards so that new green jobs are well-paying, livable jobs. It is estimated that the CCPA will generate the creation of 150,000 jobs related to the green energy transition, revitalizing communities and providing opportunities for New Yorkers across the state.</p> <p>We can and should get this done this year.</p> <p>***<br /> Assemblymember Steven Englebright represents parts of Long Island. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/SteveEngles" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@SteveEngles</a>.</p> <p>

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What's The [Data] Point? 2040, New York's Energy Sector & Plan to Go Green 2019-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8247-what-s-the-data-point-2040-new-york-s-energy-sector-plan-to-go-green Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The [Data] Point? Episode 63</strong><strong> -- 2040, Seth Hulkower [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]</strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/sh.jpg" alt="S Hulkower" width="150" height="159" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />2040 is the year by which Governor Andrew Cuomo wants New York’s electric sector to go entirely green; that is -- to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in that sector of energy to zero. This is the key new goal announced by the Governor as part of the state’s “Green New Deal,” and it follows other ambitious environmental targets previously established. Seth Hulkower, Principal of Strategic Energy Advisory Services and author of a recent CBC report on New York's energy consumption, production and future, joined the podcast to discuss key related issues and his findings.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Maria Doulis of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/MariaDoulis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MariaDoulis</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe to "What's The [Data] Point?"!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/568000269%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-iZifQ&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><a id="part2"></a>Part 2: Panel</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/570636093&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The [Data] Point? Episode 63</strong><strong> -- 2040, Seth Hulkower [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]</strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/sh.jpg" alt="S Hulkower" width="150" height="159" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />2040 is the year by which Governor Andrew Cuomo wants New York’s electric sector to go entirely green; that is -- to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in that sector of energy to zero. This is the key new goal announced by the Governor as part of the state’s “Green New Deal,” and it follows other ambitious environmental targets previously established. Seth Hulkower, Principal of Strategic Energy Advisory Services and author of a recent CBC report on New York's energy consumption, production and future, joined the podcast to discuss key related issues and his findings.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Maria Doulis of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/MariaDoulis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MariaDoulis</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe to "What's The [Data] Point?"!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/568000269%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-iZifQ&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><a id="part2"></a>Part 2: Panel</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/570636093&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Mayor De Blasio Needs a Clearer Focus on Climate Change, with a More Aggressive Agenda 2019-01-29T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-29T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8238-mayor-de-blasio-needs-a-clearer-focus-on-climate-change-with-a-more-aggressive-agenda Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/fund-climate-ed.jpg" alt="fund climate ed" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/new-york-playbook/2019/01/22/rikers-plan-bedeviled-by-local-opposition-whats-bloombergs-lane-in-2020-alicia-glens-exit-interview-379684" target="_blank" rel="noopener">plans</a> to travel nationally to discuss the ideas in his recent State of the City speech, but if he does, he won't be talking about climate change, because his speech didn't deal with it. He mentioned divesting $5 billion from fossil fuel stocks, but he never uttered the words "climate change" and said nothing about how New York City is progressing toward key goals for reducing its own climate impacts.</p> <p>The omission speaks volumes. De Blasio previously pledged the city would cut overall greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 (including cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035), and to stop 90% of our waste from going to landfills by 2030. He should be held accountable. Both goals are crucial for fighting climate change, and New York should lead the country and the world in implementing them. Instead, we're lagging. Of 27 megacities worldwide, New York uses <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most energy</a> and generates by far <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most solid waste</a>.</p> <p>How we handle our waste affects our emissions. Thirty percent of our waste stream is organic waste, 2 million tons of which rot in landfills each year, emitting more than 60,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. To prevent that, in 2013 de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/09/04/de-blasios-lofty-organics-goal-stalled-by-lack-of-funding-participation-591124" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pledged</a> a mandatory organic waste collection program within five years. It hasn’t materialized. We’re stuck with a limited, voluntary program that the Sanitation Department recently delayed expanding.</p> <p>This pulls a big punch in the fight against climate change, because our organic waste stream -- including the 1.2 million tons of food waste we generate annually and municipal wastewater from our 14 treatment plants -- is not only a source of climate pollution; it’s also a massive renewable energy resource. Methane from decomposing organics can be captured and refined into ultra-low-carbon renewable natural gas (RNG).</p> <p>As a transportation fuel, over its lifecycle RNG is <a href="https://sustainablebrands.com/read/cleantech/how-corporate-fleets-can-go-carbon-negative-now" target="_blank" rel="noopener">net carbon-negative</a>, meaning it prevents more GHG from getting into the atmosphere than it emits. Producing it captures more greenhouse gases that would otherwise escape, and using it to power buses and trucks displaces more carbon-intensive fossil fuels.</p> <p>Sacramento, Portland, Toronto, and other cities collect their organic waste and process its gases into RNG, which fuels their municipal vehicle fleets. Nationwide about 30,000 buses and trucks run on RNG.</p> <p>New York’s should, too. Getting city trucks and buses off diesel and onto RNG would vault us toward the mayor’s goals of cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035, and making New York’s air the cleanest of any major U.S. city by 2030.</p> <p>Diesel exhaust aggravates our sky-high asthma rates, afflicting over 13% of our youth – more in low-income neighborhoods where truck and bus depots are located. Natural gas buses and trucks with “near zero” engines running on RNG would cut health-damaging nitrogen oxide and particulate pollution to almost nothing.</p> <p>RNG is available in New York City via pipeline, and we could also tap our organic waste to produce it locally. Using it would save the city money over the service life of vehicles compared with "renewable diesel" or other alternatives.</p> <p>So what’s stopping us? New York City fleet agencies are resisting change and sticking with diesel. Rather than buying natural gas trucks and buses and fueling them with RNG, they’re buying diesel vehicles and experimenting with "renewable diesel," which has climate and air quality properties inferior to RNG’s. They <a href="https://www.waste360.com/fleets-technology/new-york-city-department-sanitation-called-adopt-rng" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argue</a> RNG trucks are slow to refuel and can’t plow snow, or that it would be better to migrate to electric vehicles.</p> <p>Those are excuses. RNG trucks are plenty powerful. Stations carrying RNG stand ready to fuel city vehicles now. Heavy-duty electric vehicles are years from service-ready and prohibitively expensive, and their emissions are only as good as the energy source charging the batteries -- mostly fossil fuels.</p> <p>The real obstacles to adopting RNG in New York are the same ones that kept the State of the City speech weak on climate change: lack of focused leadership and a preference for symbolic gestures over accountability for achieving concrete goals.</p> <p>The climate can’t afford that. The city already has over 1,000 natural gas vehicles, including buses, trucks, and vans, that could start running on RNG tomorrow, simply by taking out a new fuel procurement contract. That would be a welcome first step toward fleet sustainability. The logical destination is to stop buying dirty, outmoded diesel vehicles. &nbsp;</p> <p>Last year, concerned City Council members sent letters urging the <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/NGTNews-NYC-Councilmembers-Fight-for-RNG-as-Transportation-Fuel.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mayor</a> and <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/Renewable_Natural_Gas_Letter_to_NYCT.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the MTA’s New York City Transit</a> to show environmental leadership by adopting RNG. If they don’t, the Council has power through legislative and budget processes to make city agencies to get started. It’s time to use it.</p> <p>***<br /> Joanna D. Underwood is the founder and a director of the NGO <a href="https://energy-vision.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Energy Vision</a>, which researches, and promotes technologies and strategies for a sustainable energy and transportation future. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/energy_vision" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@energy_vision</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/fund-climate-ed.jpg" alt="fund climate ed" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/new-york-playbook/2019/01/22/rikers-plan-bedeviled-by-local-opposition-whats-bloombergs-lane-in-2020-alicia-glens-exit-interview-379684" target="_blank" rel="noopener">plans</a> to travel nationally to discuss the ideas in his recent State of the City speech, but if he does, he won't be talking about climate change, because his speech didn't deal with it. He mentioned divesting $5 billion from fossil fuel stocks, but he never uttered the words "climate change" and said nothing about how New York City is progressing toward key goals for reducing its own climate impacts.</p> <p>The omission speaks volumes. De Blasio previously pledged the city would cut overall greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 (including cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035), and to stop 90% of our waste from going to landfills by 2030. He should be held accountable. Both goals are crucial for fighting climate change, and New York should lead the country and the world in implementing them. Instead, we're lagging. Of 27 megacities worldwide, New York uses <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most energy</a> and generates by far <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most solid waste</a>.</p> <p>How we handle our waste affects our emissions. Thirty percent of our waste stream is organic waste, 2 million tons of which rot in landfills each year, emitting more than 60,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. To prevent that, in 2013 de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/09/04/de-blasios-lofty-organics-goal-stalled-by-lack-of-funding-participation-591124" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pledged</a> a mandatory organic waste collection program within five years. It hasn’t materialized. We’re stuck with a limited, voluntary program that the Sanitation Department recently delayed expanding.</p> <p>This pulls a big punch in the fight against climate change, because our organic waste stream -- including the 1.2 million tons of food waste we generate annually and municipal wastewater from our 14 treatment plants -- is not only a source of climate pollution; it’s also a massive renewable energy resource. Methane from decomposing organics can be captured and refined into ultra-low-carbon renewable natural gas (RNG).</p> <p>As a transportation fuel, over its lifecycle RNG is <a href="https://sustainablebrands.com/read/cleantech/how-corporate-fleets-can-go-carbon-negative-now" target="_blank" rel="noopener">net carbon-negative</a>, meaning it prevents more GHG from getting into the atmosphere than it emits. Producing it captures more greenhouse gases that would otherwise escape, and using it to power buses and trucks displaces more carbon-intensive fossil fuels.</p> <p>Sacramento, Portland, Toronto, and other cities collect their organic waste and process its gases into RNG, which fuels their municipal vehicle fleets. Nationwide about 30,000 buses and trucks run on RNG.</p> <p>New York’s should, too. Getting city trucks and buses off diesel and onto RNG would vault us toward the mayor’s goals of cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035, and making New York’s air the cleanest of any major U.S. city by 2030.</p> <p>Diesel exhaust aggravates our sky-high asthma rates, afflicting over 13% of our youth – more in low-income neighborhoods where truck and bus depots are located. Natural gas buses and trucks with “near zero” engines running on RNG would cut health-damaging nitrogen oxide and particulate pollution to almost nothing.</p> <p>RNG is available in New York City via pipeline, and we could also tap our organic waste to produce it locally. Using it would save the city money over the service life of vehicles compared with "renewable diesel" or other alternatives.</p> <p>So what’s stopping us? New York City fleet agencies are resisting change and sticking with diesel. Rather than buying natural gas trucks and buses and fueling them with RNG, they’re buying diesel vehicles and experimenting with "renewable diesel," which has climate and air quality properties inferior to RNG’s. They <a href="https://www.waste360.com/fleets-technology/new-york-city-department-sanitation-called-adopt-rng" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argue</a> RNG trucks are slow to refuel and can’t plow snow, or that it would be better to migrate to electric vehicles.</p> <p>Those are excuses. RNG trucks are plenty powerful. Stations carrying RNG stand ready to fuel city vehicles now. Heavy-duty electric vehicles are years from service-ready and prohibitively expensive, and their emissions are only as good as the energy source charging the batteries -- mostly fossil fuels.</p> <p>The real obstacles to adopting RNG in New York are the same ones that kept the State of the City speech weak on climate change: lack of focused leadership and a preference for symbolic gestures over accountability for achieving concrete goals.</p> <p>The climate can’t afford that. The city already has over 1,000 natural gas vehicles, including buses, trucks, and vans, that could start running on RNG tomorrow, simply by taking out a new fuel procurement contract. That would be a welcome first step toward fleet sustainability. The logical destination is to stop buying dirty, outmoded diesel vehicles. &nbsp;</p> <p>Last year, concerned City Council members sent letters urging the <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/NGTNews-NYC-Councilmembers-Fight-for-RNG-as-Transportation-Fuel.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mayor</a> and <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/Renewable_Natural_Gas_Letter_to_NYCT.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the MTA’s New York City Transit</a> to show environmental leadership by adopting RNG. If they don’t, the Council has power through legislative and budget processes to make city agencies to get started. It’s time to use it.</p> <p>***<br /> Joanna D. Underwood is the founder and a director of the NGO <a href="https://energy-vision.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Energy Vision</a>, which researches, and promotes technologies and strategies for a sustainable energy and transportation future. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/energy_vision" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@energy_vision</a>.</p> <p>

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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

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