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For Immediate Release:

February 25, 2021

Media Contact:

Dan Morris. 917.952.8920.

We Won’t Be Bullied by Andrew Cuomo: Ron Kim, Legislators, and Climate Groups Rally Against Governor’s Plan to Kill Green Jobs in NYC

New York – Today, city and state legislators, including New York Assembly Member Ron Kim, joined climate advocacy groups at a Zoom press conference to stand up to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his disastrous budget proposal that would kill thousands of green jobs in New York City, endangering economic recovery after COVID.

Cuomo proposal would gut Local Law 97, a key component of the Green New Deal for New York City. The law requires buildings, the largest climate polluters, to reduce their emissions through retrofits, which will create many thousands of green jobs for New York City residents.

At the Zoom press conference, speakers condemned Cuomo’s reckless and harmful push to allow building owners to buy Renewable Energy Credits, instead of performing retrofits that will create thousands of green jobs in New York City. These green jobs can play a key role in economic recovery after COVID for low-income communities of color on the frontlines of climate change. A full video of the press conference is available here.

The event Thursday comes as Cuomo faces mounting criticism and blowback for his bullying tactics and threats, and his efforts to govern through fear and intimidation.

Key participants in the Zoom news event included: New York Assembly Member Ron Kim, New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris; New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, the prime sponsor of Local Law 97; New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso; Maritza Silva-Farrell from ALIGN; Eddie Bautista from the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA); Sonal Jessel from WE ACT; Anthony Rogers Wright from NY Renews.

In 2019, the Climate Works for All coalition was instrumental in the passage of Local Law 97, which requires significant energy efficiency upgrades and improvements to New York City’s buildings. The law was crafted and passed in response to a 2017 report from ALIGN that highlighted the role of New York City’s dirty buildings – especially those owned by Donald Trump and Jared Kushner– in driving climate pollution and greenhouse emissions.

“This is a misguided and harmful budget proposal from Governor Cuomo that would undermine Local Law 97 and New York City’s urgent efforts to address the climate crisis. Cuomo’s budget proposal is bad for our environment, bad for our communities, and bad for our economy. If enacted, it would eliminate thousands of good-paying green jobs, and make it easier for the real-estate industry to avoid pursuing necessary retrofits of buildings that are the worst climate polluters. Retrofits and other energy efficiency improvements to buildings will create thousands of green jobs in low-income communities of color exposed to the biggest climate threats of the future. These green jobs can and should be a key component of our economic recovery from COVID, especially for New Yorkers of color hit hardest by the pandemic,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, a progressive advocacy organization that co-founded the Climate Works for All coalition and organized the Zoom rally today.

“One of the biggest goals in passing Local Law 97 was to make New York City’s buildings as energy efficient as possible,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, lead sponsor of Local Law 97. “Retrofitting our buildings to be more efficient helps us transition our grid away from fossil fuels and creates tens of thousands of good jobs. Finding the right balance in Local Law 97 was a hard-fought process that took almost two years – a balance that is now at risk if the state budget passes with Part R included. Opening a loophole that could erase a substantial amount of our targeted efficiency gains puts both the city and state’s climate goals in jeopardy for the benefit of a few deep-pocketed landlords.” Let’s ensure that we can fulfill the promise of the CMA and the CLCPA and rethink this shortsighted attempt to short-circuit Local Law 97.”

“Climate change is no longer an abstraction in the future – the impacts are here and harming our communities today,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “We cannot continue to kick the can down the road – the time to take bold action on climate change is now. I am proud to stand with the Climate Works for All Coalition today in demanding that Governor Cuomo commit to the full and complete implementation of Local Law 97.”

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to New York City. My City Council colleagues and I know this and have known this for years. That’s why in 2019, we passed the historic Climate Mobilization Act with a nearly unanimous vote,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “My District was one of those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and we’re still working to pick up the pieces. We cannot and will not allow this critical legislation to be watered down with loopholes that will delay significant building efficiency upgrades for years.”

“New York City’s Local Law 97 is the culmination of organizing towards a Green New Deal. We cannot let it be undermined because special interests and real estate developers want to roll it back. Language in Part R of the TED bill of the Governor’s proposed budget does just that and it must be eliminated.” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “I’m proud to have penned a letter to leadership with over 30 of my colleagues asking that it be removed and thank advocates for mobilizing us into action. Our planet needs real change now and New York City can be a part of that change.”

“If we’re going to meet the ambitious goals set by the CLCPA, we cannot allow our largest and dirtiest buildings to circumvent the requirements of Local Law 97. Cutting building emissions is critical in our fight against climate change and I opposed any effort to gut Local Law 97 in this budget,” said Assemblymember Robert Carroll.

“The Governor’s proposal flies in the face of what is required by the state’s climate law. Allowing building owners to buy their way out of making much needed pollution reduction measures is harmful to the health of communities and does nothing to increase the state’s supply of renewable energy,” said Conor Bambrick, Director of Climate Policy for Environmental Advocates NY.

“Architects know too well that our buildings are in desperate need of repair. Our city’s most vulnerable populations live, learn, and work in buildings that pollute and contribute to unhealthy environments. Granting landlords the ability to defer essential maintenance, by purchasing energy credits elsewhere, will only further exacerbate inequities. Enforcing Local Law 97 is key to New Yorkers’ health and wellbeing, as well as to the state’s economy,” said Ben Prosky, Assoc. AIA Executive Director, American Institute of Architects New York

“Buildings account for nearly 70% of the city’s emissions, which have disproportionate impacts on the numerous environmental justice communities situated in the five boroughs. To that end, it’s flummoxing that the Governor, during a global pandemic that is exacerbated by exposure to toxic emissions, would include mechanisms that would increase environmental racism in his budget. The City of New York passed a lawful bill to improve air quality and public health, and while we may reside in the Empire State, the Governor shouldn’t behave like an emperor and undermine the will of the city’s people and their City Council to satisfy the avarice of his donor friends of the Real Estate guild,” said Anthony Rogers-Wright, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

“The problem with Part R is that it allows building owners in New York City – where buildings account for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, trucks, and buses combined – to avoid making any of the improvements mandated under the City’s landmark climate legislation, Local Law 97,” explained Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Not only does this gift to well-connected building owners completely undermine the City’s plan to address the climate crisis, but it also robs us of the thousands of jobs that would be created in doing so. It’s a real insult to our low-income communities and communities of color, who have already shouldered the brunt of this pandemic and now must face continued emissions – which have been linked to the health inequities that led to that disparity in COVID-19 outcomes – and fewer job prospects.”