For Immediate Release: January 26, 2022
State Legislators and NY Renews Coalition Call for $15 Billion Investment in Climate, Jobs, and Justice
NEW YORK – New York State legislators and leaders of the NY Renews coalition held a virtual press conference today, advocating for a $15 billion investment in climate and environmental justice in response to Governor Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget. Speakers included Senator Samra Brouk; Assemblymembers Kenny Burgos, Anna Kelles, Jessica González-Rojas, and Jo Anne Simon; and the directors of ALIGN NY, PUSH Buffalo, and UPROSE. Video of the press conference is available here and here.
Last Tuesday, Governor Hochul released the FY 2023 Executive Budget, which fell significantly short of what state agencies have determined is necessary to secure the benefits from implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The law made New York a climate leader, but it requires sufficient funding to deliver a just, equitable, and sustainable state as promised. The only significant increase of funding for climate in the Governor’s budget is tied to the $1 billion increase to the Environmental Bond Act, which is subject to voter approval this fall and would be spent over multiple years. The Governor has also proposed to continue the Cuomo-era policy of raiding $23 million in clean energy funds which deprives disadvantaged communities of funding that would reduce their energy costs and improve public health.
NY Renews’ $15 billion proposal is proportional to the scale of funding needed to avert climate catastrophe and invest in climate justice, and is still only 6.9% of the $219 billion Executive Budget. The plan includes funding solutions to many of Gov. Hochul’s proposed green infrastructure projects, such as transitioning to a clean energy economy, creating clean jobs, expanding offshore wind, electrifying city and school buses, and upgrading public housing energy.
“New York can’t afford not to take bold action in response to climate change. Investing in our climate now not only makes good fiscal sense by avoiding unnecessary expenses in the future, but helps provide environmental justice to low income communities and communities of color that often suffer ‘worst and first’ from climate crises. New York must continue to lead the way on climate action, and we simply do not have time to wait.” said Senator Samra Brouk.
“Our climate crisis is an existential threat that is ravaging communities every day, especially those that are underserved. I see it firsthand on a daily basis in my Bronx district, as continued air pollution has caused my home borough to have one of the highest asthma rates in the country. It is unacceptable and we must take immediate action to address this crisis. We need to go big and ensure that New York invests $15 billion in this upcoming budget to address climate change. We owe it to our fellow New Yorkers that tackling environmental injustice continues to be one of our top priorities,” said Assemblymember Kenny Burgos.
“Last year I witnessed what happens when we don’t take climate change seriously,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “The aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida displaced some of my constituents, flooded and destroyed homes, and exposed how unprepared New York is as it relates to climate change. Communities of color and low-income communities suffer the most from our inaction. That is why I’m joining the call for New York State to allocate $15 billion in our state budget to deliver on our environmental justice goals. This is an investment in resiliency, emission reduction, and job creation, and we have to get it right because the cost of not doing so is too great to bear.”
“We must seriously tackle the climate crisis and do everything within our power to reverse its impact on our state and our planet,” said NYS Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn). “New York passed a landmark environmental bill in 2019, but our state’s green new deal needs funding for full implementation. If New York doesn’t invest $15 billion in climate, green jobs, emission reductions, and environmental justice, the CLCPA will just be a piece of paper. I stand with my colleagues, advocates and NY Renews in urging for full investment in climate protections because half measures just will not suffice.”
Assemblymember Anna Kelles (D-125): “We must meet this moment with a logical and sensible $15 billion investment in infrastructure, green jobs, and the training to make these prevailing-wage jobs accessible to everyone including those who contribute the least to climate change but are the most impacted, most often black, brown, and indigenous communities. In my district, which includes Tompkins County and part of Cortland County, farmers are seeing the effects of the climate crisis in their fields, where increased rain precipitation is saturating soil, threatening their ability to plant crops in time for a fully productive harvest, and placing their crops in danger of issues like mold and pests typical of warmer climates. New York has some of the last freshwater on the planet and is a bedrock for all of the upstate economies and these systems too are under threat from climate change. NYSERDA is recommending a minimum of $10 billion every year until 2030 to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. We are simply asking the state to fulfill this recommendation.”
“In 2019 we organized, we fought, and we won the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), solidifying a sustainable future for every New Yorker. It is now 2022, and while we’ve seen the deadly impact of the climate crisis in frontline communities across New York State — and right here in Buffalo — we have yet to see the commitment from our elected leaders to fully implement the CLCPA. Climate change is not waiting, and neither are we. This $15 billion is crucial to securing a future that is more resilient to climate, economic, and social injustice.” said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo.
“Hurricane Ida and Superstorm Sandy are painful reminders of how the climate catastrophe is already devastating New York. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN NY, a member of the NY Renews steering committee. “There is a clear pathway to a healthier and sustainable future: $15 billion in this year’s budget will move us toward a renewable energy economy, resilient infrastructure, and thousands of career, green jobs. Implementing these investments quickly will be critical to our Covid recovery, and the future of this state.”
“Climate change is the result of a legacy of extraction hoisted on frontline communities without the necessary equitable investments to address remediation. The consequences add up to pollution, sustained toxic exposure, health disparities, extreme weather events, gentrification, displacement, and heightened susceptibility to COVID-19 and other diseases in frontline communities. Racial justice demands State investments that match the size of this crisis—$15 billion in the 2022 New York State budget would be consistent with the framework laid out in the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA) and is a necessary commitment if New York State wants to become a climate justice leader. We must invest in green jobs, workers, households, clean energy, healthy schools, and accessible, just, sustainable infrastructure. We must invest in a true Just Transition.” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE
“In 2021, we witnessed a surge in natural disasters that cost the lives of too many, and disproportionately impacted our most marginalized communities. Until we take bold action to make our communities more resilient and do our part in stemming the tide of climate change, our communities will continue to suffer. 2022 must be the year that we fully and equitably invest in our communities to achieve our climate goals, improve our public infrastructure, and create thousands of green jobs. I urge Governor Hochul to heed the demands of the New York Renews Coalition, and invest in our communities to establish New York as a leader in climate justice. New York’s future, quite literally, depends on it.” said Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
Senator Jackson said, “Working-class, Black, and Brown neighborhoods across New York have sadly and disproportionately paid the cost of environmental injustice in poor public health, exposure to pollution, and adverse climate change for generations. Billions of dollars in new spending will have immediate benefits for disadvantaged communities, resiliency, emission reduction, job creation, and will save lives. I will continue to champion a greener and fairer New York with NY Renews; let’s properly fund the CLCPA!”
“Climate change is the fight of our lifetime. We have within our power, the ability to turn the tide on a rapidly warming and unstable planet, but we must act decisively and boldly, with resources that meet the scope and scale of this problem. While I am pleased that Governor Hochul has made fighting climate change a priority for her Administration, much more is needed to finance the rapid and just transition to a green energy future that New York needs. I look forward to continuing my work with my colleagues, allies in the New York Renews Coalition, and Governor Hochul to meet the climate crisis head on and resourced to win,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-New York), Chair of the Committee on Social Services.
About NY Renews
NY Renews is a coalition of over 300+ environmental, environmental justice, justice, faith, labor, business, and community groups, and the force behind the nation’s most progressive climate law, New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The coalition fights for good jobs and climate justice in New York State.