More than 100 Environmental Groups Call for Legislation to Mandate NY Climate Goals
Environmentalists want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make fighting global climate change New York state law in the coming year.
In response to the nomination of climate change deniers to President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet, more than 100 organizations are asking the governor to include a bill called the New York Climate and Community Protection Act in his 2017 to 2018 budget proposal.
Bob Cohen, policy director of Citizen Action of New York, says it would obligate future governors to follow through on policies Cuomo has put in place, and build on those commitments.
"It has a mandate that New York state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2050, and to generate 50 percent of our electricity with renewables by 2030," Cohen states.
The State Assembly passed the bill in this year's legislative session, but the legislation stalled in the Senate despite being sponsored by a majority of the members.
Cohen adds that the bill also has strong provisions to promote environmental justice. It would require that 40 percent of funding for some categories of renewable energy projects to go to disadvantaged communities.
"People who have histories of discrimination and serious burdens of climate change because those are the folks that have the greatest of severe weather related events and less capacity to recover from them," he explains.
In addition, the bill includes provisions requiring contracts for large projects to pay the local prevailing wages.
Although New York alone couldn't counter a reversal of climate change policy in Washington, Cohen maintains the state can set an important example.
"New York is considered a leader state, so if New York and California act, then certainly that can have an impact politically on what is happening nationally," he states.