Schumer calls on NY lawmakers to pass sweeping climate change-related legislation
ALBANY — Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to see the Empire State go green.
The Senate Minority Leader dashed off a letter to every legislator in the state on Wednesday, urging them to get behind a sweeping bill that would make New York one of the greenest states in the nation.
The Climate and Community Protection Act, currently being considered by lawmakers in Albany, offers a roadmap to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and would require the state generate 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
It also calls for a 100% reduction of all emissions by 2050, attaches fair labor standards to green projects, and includes equity provisions that require 40% of the state funds used for the transition away from fossil fuels be invested in low-income communities and communities of color.
“I believe we must prioritize the urgency of climate change and the need to take bold steps to aggressively confront it, and that is exactly what the Climate and Community Protection Act does, and it is what I have been fighting for in the U.S. Congress,” Schumer writes.
The environmentally-friendly legislation, sponsored by Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau) and Assemblymember Steve Englebright (D-Suffolk), would also create a working group for disadvantaged communities adversely impacted by pollution and climate change. A report would also be issued tracking ways the state can move toward community ownership of renewable energy technology.
Democrats in the state capital have been on a green kick in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the State Senate passed a collection of eco-friendly bills meant to protect New Yorkers against toxic toys, establish a constitutional right to clean air and water and to protect the state’s environment and natural resources.
Gov. Cuomo has pitched his own version of a green New Deal that aims to make the state’s electricity sector carbon-free by 2040 and to create a council that would develop a plan to transition the state’s entire economy to net-zero carbon emissions, but critics say the plan doesn’t go far enough, fast enough.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation also handed environmental advocates a win last week when it moved to block a 24-mile long pipeline that would have carried fracked gas from Pennsylvania shale fields across New York Harbor to heat homes in the outer boroughs and Long Island.
Lawmakers are also discussing legislation that would ban the development of new plants or similar pipelines and also direct state energy officials to create a plan for moving the electrical grid entirely off fossil fuels by no later than 2040.
But the Climate and Community Protection Act, which has repeatedly passed the Assembly in past years but was blocked by Senate Republicans, has not yet moved forward — even with Dems in control of both chambers.
“While New York has taken some very significant steps to address these challenges, more remains to be done,” Schumer writes. “New York can take a leading role in reducing emissions and investing in communities that are affected by the impacts of climate change.”
Peter Iwanowicz, the executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, applauded Schumer for backing the bill.
“His statement rightly highlights that the CCPA is nation-leading in its approach to confronting climate change by transitioning to a 100% clean, renewable energy future in a way that builds a just and equitable economy,” Iwanowicz said.
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