Westchester Environmental Advocates and Elected Officials hold Press Conference for Climate Justice Demands in Yonkers

Official Press Release from NY Renews

On May 25, 2023 at 4 pm, NY Renews member organizations, supporting elected officials and allies held a press conference, as part of a series of actions held statewide, calling for the passage of the entire Climate, Jobs & Justice Package, including the Climate and Community Protection Fund, NY HEAT Act, and legislation that would protect Black, brown, and working people from pollution hotspots in the state’s future Cap-and-Invest Program. The coalition is also calling for key guardrails for the state’s proposed Cap-and-Invest Program. Events will also launch in Buffalo, Albany, Ithaca, the Hudson Valley, Long Island, New York City, and Rochester.

“We are thrilled to support the removal of limitations that have hindered the New York Power Authority (NYPA) from expanding its renewable capabilities. With this new development, NYPA can now develop and own large-scale renewable power facilities, enabling a significant increase in clean energy generation. Furthermore, NYPA is committed to phasing out all oil and gas-powered facilities by 2030, aligning with our goal of a sustainable and carbon-neutral future. This empowering legislation not only drives the transition to renewable energy but also ensures equitable access and benefits for disadvantaged communities, in line with the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Together, we are taking a bold step forward in promoting renewable energy adoption and combating climate change,” said State Senator Nathalia Fernandez.

Assemblyman Steve Otis, Chair of the Assembly Science and Technology Committee said, “We are gathering across the state to continue to advance the agenda for sound environmental policies and a just transition to healthier neighborhoods and homes. The Climate Leadership goals we set in 2019 can only be accomplished by improving the way we produce and use energy and how we share the benefits of a clean transition. We need to build on the gains we accomplished in the state budget: new renewables, all-electric in new buildings and funding to support a just transition in which costs are shared and ratepayers are protected. We need to provide additional programs and tools to make the transition a reality.”

“The Climate, Jobs, and Justice package provides a roadmap for implementing our nation-leading Climate and Community Protection Act and lowering energy costs for New York households. The Climate and Community Protection Fund is an essential part of this package of bills. If we are talking about “Cap & Invest,” we need a safe place to put those investments, to assure New Yorkers that these funds will be reinvested in our communities, including first and foremost those that have suffered the worst environmental harms. We also need to ensure that our green future is built by workers with well-paying, union jobs. A. 6263 does all of this. Let’s get it done!” said Assemblymember Dana Levenberg.

“Ever since the environmental movement began, those who see their financial profits as tied to the oil and gas industry have presented us with a false choice between the environment and cost savings. But, the reality is that reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is not more expensive than living with the impacts of pollution and climate change. We know what we need to do to preserve the environment, and passing the NY HEAT Act and the CCPF are meaningful steps in that direction,” said Assemblymember MaryJane Shimsky.

“For generations, communities in Yonkers have suffered from environmental policies that pollute our natural resources and negatively impact the health of our people. I am pleased to support the Climate Jobs and Justice Package so that New York State can begin to remediate the damage of the past and create a sustainable, clean and green future,” said Yonkers Councilmember Corazon Pineda Isaac.

“By dismantling systemic barriers and addressing the disproportionate impacts of environmental degradation on marginalized communities, we pave the way for a more sustainable future where everyone has equal access to a clean and healthy environment. The Climate, Jobs, and Justice Package is a transformative step towards making this vision a reality for Yonkers, Mt. Vernon and beyond,” said Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Christopher A. Johnson.

New York State’s path-breaking 2019 Climate Law establishes a mandate to address and mitigate the threats of our warming globe and changing climate by moving us toward a future of renewable energy by mid-century. Crucially, the law also focuses on underserved, frontline, “disadvantaged communities,” which have borne the brunt of fossil fuel industry pollution. Without support, these communities would not be able to achieve or comply with the law’s mandates. Now in 2023, we need the courage, the will, and especially the funding to move forward in implementing the CLCPA’s goals. NYCD16 Indivisible strongly supports the bills in the Climate, Jobs & Justice Package and believes it is imperative to pass them before the end of the current legislative session. Natalie Polvere, Co-Chair, Environment Committee, NYCD16 Indivisible

“Environment justice communities like Peekskill and Yonkers, who have been carrying an unfair environmental and health burden for far too long, are being left behind if we don’t act swiftly. Our state leaders must work to pass the Climate, Jobs and Justice Package to put into motion comprehensive policies that will center the needs of our frontline community and work towards restitution for the immense harm that has already been caused,” said Westchester Alliance for Sustainable Solutions organizer Vanessa Agudelo

Mikey Sullivan, Member, Sunrise Westchester said, “It’s essential that a sustainable future is available and affordable for all. That’s why we need the Climate, Jobs, and Justice bill package.”

“This package will provide invaluable support to people of color in search of economic stability in one of the wealthiest counties of America. Environmental justice communities in cities such as Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Peekskill, and Yonkers could use this support to enact needed sustainable development through the creation of more circular economies” said Paul Presendieu of the Hudson Valley Energy Justice Alliance.

“New Yorkers continue to subsidize the same industry actors acknowledged for being responsible for the effects of climate change. And we pay good money for all of this not only from our own pockets and tax dollars, but through the cost of failing health in our communities. We will continue to push Governor Hochul and our legislators on ending these subsidies and holding corporations accountable and responsible for their actions,” said Suzie Ross, Co-Chair of Climate Reality Project – Westchester Chapter.

“As a healthcare organization serving low income people and vulnerable families, Open Door understands the profound impact climate change is having on the people we serve. The heath consequences are real and seem to be more threatening each year, robbing people of their livelihoods. The trickle down economic impact harms entire families with implications for future generations. It is in everyone’s interest to address climate change now,” saidLindsay Farrell, President, Open Door Family Medical Center.

“Robison is cognizant of the changing energy landscape and supportive of the goal of reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels in NYS,” said Dan Singer, CEO of Robison, a full-service home comfort company in Port Chester, NY. “ We want to work with our customers to provide environmentally friendly energy solutions. In addition, New York State’s efforts are already creating new green jobs that are benefitting our industry now and into the future.”

“We are happy to welcome the NY Renews movement to Southwest Yonkers, where we have Westchester County’s Largest and antiquated Sewage Treatment Plant that processes more than 60 percent of the County’s sewage. Facilities such as this one are in desperate need of modernization and to move from a just-maintenance mode to a more up-to-date way of processing sewage that protects our environment. The CCPF is a crucial step towards a just, clean-energy future. It would build on NYS’s new Climate Action Fund by Sending funds directly to Communities as ours on the front lines of the climate crisis to develop our own renewable energy and environmental justice solution, and much more,” said Legislator Alvarado.

“While I am unable to attend the Thursday afternoon rally in Westchester County, I continue to support the goals of The Climate and Community Protection Fund legislation which requires local communities to have a strong voice in energy policy decisions as we move New York away from the use of fossil fuels. The State Assembly has strongly supported the necessary transition from fossil fuels to affordable renewable energy to make our state healthier and more equitable,” said Assemblyman Nader Sayegh via email.

Advocates are pushing for the passage of key Climate, Jobs, and Justice bills still in play in the state legislature at the end of session, including:

  • the Climate and Community Protection Fund (S.5360/A.6263) which would create a pool of funding to implement our landmark Climate Act and direct benefits back to communities and workers;
  • the NY Home Energy Affordable Transition Act (S.2016/A.4592), which would give the Public Service Commission the authority and direction to align gas utilities with the Climate Act’s emission reduction and climate justice mandates;
  • the Just Energy Transition Act (S.2935/A.9881 of 2022), which would provide a plan to guide the replacement and redevelopment of New York State’s fossil fuel facilities and sites by 2030; the Climate Change Superfund Act (S.2129/A.3351) which would make the state’s worst polluters, major oil companies, pay for the harm they’ve caused; and the Stop Climate Polluter Handouts Act (S.3389/A.8483 of 2022), which would end the most egregious state subsidies of $330 million to climate crisis contributors—the fossil fuel industry.

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