NYC Electeds and Community leaders Demand Climate Plan Based on
Environmental Justice, Jobs, and Energy Security
Electeds, environmental justice advocates, and Brooklyn community leaders rallied in advance of public hearing on the Climate Action Council’s Draft Scoping Plan
Photo: Eddie Bautista of NYC Environmental Justice Alliance addresses rally, May 3, 2022
Brooklyn, NY — On Tuesday, May 3, New York State and City legislators joined with community leaders to hold a rally and press conference before testifying at the public hearing on the New York State Climate Action Council’s (CAC) Draft Scoping Plan. The Draft Plan is mandated by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and is a blueprint for a pathway for New York to reach mandated greenhouse gas emission targets, increase renewable energy, protect public health from climate-change induced impacts, and support disadvantaged communities.
Elected officials at the rally included Comptroller Brad Lander, Councilmember Lincoln Restler, Councilmember Sandy Nurse, a representative from the Office of Councilmember Alexa Aviles and others who spoke in favor of a robust implementation plan for New York to meet its mandated climate targets.
Also present were Brooklyn residents and representatives of local and regional organizations including UPROSE, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, El Puente, Brownsville Green Justice, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Make the Road, Sierra Club and NY Renews. Community leaders called for the plan to center BIPOC and frontline communities in job creation, air quality, green public transit, energy security, and environmental justice while rejecting false solutions such as “renewable natural gas,” as New York seeks to address the root causes of the climate crisis.
City-designated Environmental Justice Communities in Brooklyn such as Brownsville, Sunset Park, East Flatbush-Farragut, and East New York, among others, are disproportionately exposed to cumulative burdens that have negative public health consequences. Polluting infrastructure and higher-than-average exposure to diesel particulate matter from nearby highways contribute to risks of cancer and chronic health issues. If implemented with a robust funding and planning scheme, the CLCPA could address these systemic issues while contributing to local, good-paying, green jobs. Please find photos from the rally and press conference in this folder (professional photos by Biv Sanchez). For live coverage from the public hearing itself, please see this thread.
For our key talking points on labor, please view this document.
“New York must make sure the implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is adequately funded, actually enforced, and prioritizes a just transition,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Climate change only exacerbates existing inequities, particularly in communities of more color, so we need the CLCPA to protect our neighbors from this existential threat.”
“The Climate Action Council scoping plan shows us that a clean energy future requires ambitious actions, but is achievable if we act urgently and collectively. Climate action is not only prudent to mitigate the impacts of rising seas and temperatures, but is also shown to save New York’s bottom line in the long run,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “We need to fully phase out fossil fuels and ramp up renewables, invest in robust and sustainable transportation options, and create job and career pathways into the green economy in order to achieve a just transition.”
“From Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Ida to Asthma Alley in Astoria, Queens is far too familiar with the devastating impacts climate change and extreme weather can unleash. It has never been more critical to do all we can as a city and state to stem the tide of the climate crisis,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I stand with our frontline communities and all our clean energy partners to call on our state to put forth the efficient roadmap possible in our push to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in energy equity.”
“The science on climate change is clear, the wealthiest countries are the biggest contributors to harmful emissions. As the richest state in the wealthiest country on Earth, New York must lead the way toward a healthier, climate-safe future that prioritizes a just transition and good jobs for climate impacted communities” said Sunset Park and Red Hook City Council Member Alexa Avilés. “As New York State’s Climate Action Council continues to convene public hearings across the state, I proudly stand with UPROSE, NY Renews and, allies in calling on the state to adopt the most ambitious possible plan to reduce emissions and reject false solutions that would only extend the lifespan of the fossil fuel infrastructure. We cannot allow the fossil fuel industry to weaken our state’s climate plan, that’s why I encourage every New Yorker to stand up and say along with me: no false solutions, climate justice now!”
“The New York State Climate and Community Protection Act mandates transformative emission reductions, renewable energy targets, and climate justice investments. The CLCPA will shape the future of our city across many sectors from solid waste to power generation to transportation and land use,” said District 37 Councilmember Sandy Nurse. “Today’s hearing is an opportunity for our communities, organizations, workers, and environmental justice leaders to determine the pathways and principles we use to achieve our climate goals. In the waste sector, New York City is working to meet our climate and equity goals through key policies like zero waste, commercial waste zones, and composting programs — and there is more to be done. I look forward to working with allies to help build a more renewable and sustainable New York.”
Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes from District 51 representing Red Hook, Sunset Park and northern Bay Ridge says, “In the aftermath of catastrophic weather events caused by Hurricane Ida, we have seen loved ones lost and unprecedented damage done to our vulnerable working-class communities in the front lines. We need to be intentional in our collective fight to address environmental injustices and climate change, not settle for piecemeal solutions that will only put our communities in harm’s way. We know we have the resources in this state – but we need to finally accept that economic development does not mean having the lowest tax rates. It means providing for an environment where our communities – especially our marginalized communities of color – can live healthy lives and contribute their talents. I call on the State of New York to fully and adequately provide funding to ensure that we fulfill the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act as originally intended.”
33rd District Councilmember Lincoln Restler said, “New York State doesn’t have a climate goal, it has a climate mandate to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050. The Climate Action Council must require the boldest actions to ensure we fulfill the promise of the strongest climate law in the nation.”
“New York State must fund the CLCPA. The CLCPA must serve as a model across public and private sectors and prioritize moving a minimum of 40% direct investments to frontline communities- those most impacted, but least responsible for climate change. 40% investments is the baseline and NOT the ceiling in order to protect communities and build equitable systems that allow communities to survive and thrive in the face of disasters,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE.
Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, says, “Working directly with environmental justice communities across the city, I’ve seen firsthand the impacts of decades of environmental racism and climate disaster. Now, New York has a choice: either work to move past this legacy toward thriving communities or double down on false solutions and empty promises. The Climate Action Council must prioritize public health, racial justice, and true investment in the communities who need it most.”
“The NYS Climate Scoping Plan was designed by our 2019 law, the CLCPA, to be the people’s plan- this is why it’s important that New Yorkers raise their voices in opposition to entrenched fossil fuel interests that are spreading fear and lies to hold back the State’s just transition,” said Raya Salter, member of the Climate Action Council.
Victor Davila, organizer at The Point CDC says, “If scenario 3 is not adopted as the CLCPA’s guiding path, citizens will be forced to accept that our local government has devolved into either incompetence or criminality. The facts of climate change are well known, and the country is currently sliding backwards. If we don’t have bold, climate-focused legislators fighting for our future, we as citizens must step up and do what those in power don’t have the courage or competence to do.”
Regarding the relationship between common environmental justice demands of communities in the Bronx and Brooklyn, Victor Davila added, “Fossil fuel companies are waging war on our children, whether in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or any of the five boroughs. When they burn fossil fuels, they pollute the lungs of growing children, poison their minds with harmful chemicals, weaken their hearts, and raise cancer rates. What responsible adult or caring parent can watch their children’s futures burned away for the sake of false profit. Frontline communities will fight for a better future until we get it. Corruption and greed are the only things that can stop the adaptation of scenario three for New York; anything must put the citizenry on notice to act boldly.”
Faceli Alvarez, Brooklyn resident and member of Make the Road New York, said, “I have lived in Bushwick for over fifteen years and throughout that time I have seen the true necessity for environmental justice. One of my children suffers from asthma and, as a mother, it is horrible to see your child in pain and unable to breathe. My child, my family, and my community deserve a clean environment to breathe. It is time we prioritize the health and well-being of all New Yorkers by ensuring clean renewable energy and a healthy environment.”
“Being an immigrant in Sunset Park has among the highest cost of living in New York. The costs of living impact us on everything, and in addition, we have three central polluting waste plants. Today, May 3rd, we demand our right to Life and climate solutions with just and real goals. We are here for real solutions NOW,” says Barbara Lopez, a member of Ladies of Sunset Park.
“As demonstrated by our fight to pass the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act back in 2019, ambitious climate action can only be achieved when our frontline communities and our workers come together, says Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN: Alliance for a Greater New York. “The Scoping Plan is an opportunity to rebuild New York on the foundation of equity, environmental justice, and economic development. It is an opportunity to protect our workers from the race to the bottom that has gutted their wages, benefits and rights. It is an opportunity to protect our communities from harmful greenhouse gas emissions threatening their health and wellbeing. We hope to see the Climate Action Council capitalize on this moment to deliver a just transition to all.”
We can and should approach the Draft Scoping Plan with an intersectional lens. Communities at the frontlines of historical inequitable planning, governmental neglect, and environmental hazards have held visions and solutions for sustainability and resilience – and it is those most impacted that should be prioritized to ensure a Just Transition that takes into account cumulative burdens and existing public health harms, as well as the great potentiality for green jobs, healthy buildings, and cleaner, more efficient transportation systems,” says Daniela Castillo, Program Manager of El Puente de Williamsburg
Community Engagement Coordinator of Sane Energy Project, Lee Ziesche, says, “My great-grandpa worked in a steel mill in Pittsburgh and his daughter. My grandma and I don’t always agree on everything but we’re united in our strong support of workers and union labor. So to the union brothers and sisters in this room today asking for a delay – please know that the rich people who run corporations like National Grid have been delaying getting off fossil fuels my entire life and that people living next to fracked gas power plants & pipelines don’t have a choice to be polluted or not. and most consumers and workers would never choose gas if they knew the real health impacts – my moms best friend’s son, someone I grew up in diapers with workers as fracker and he has no idea what he is being exposed to, so I’m fighting for him and all of you in this room.”
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NY Renews, a coalition of over 320 community-based, labor, environmental justice, faith, and climate groups, is demanding a $15 billion investment in climate justice during the 2022–2023 fiscal year, a figure adopted from an NYSERDA estimate that calls for a minimum investment of $10 billion annually, with increases every year, to reduce climate risk for communities in New York State.