An Open Letter on Funding the Climate Act to Assembly Member Barrett | Opinion | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Dear Assembly member Barrett,

We are writing to you as constituents, friends, and allies. Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent budget address spoke of responding to the climate crisis and of remedying its disproportionate impact on the poor. Yet nearly three years after the passage of the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which you voted for, the governor and Legislature have not yet reached a consensus on how to pay for it, in spite of the state’s budget surplus. We imagine that, as a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation and having taken such leadership on regenerative agriculture and environmental conservation, you too are dismayed by this failure. Given the realities of the climate emergency, we must now fund investments in renewable energy, emissions reductions, climate resiliency, climate justice, and green jobs. Now, not tomorrow.

Although climate change is a global problem, solutions can only be practically addressed locally. We are proud that New York State is admirably offering leadership, the “L” in the CLCPA. But if any of us allow it to sit on a shelf, we will sorely regret it. The risks are no longer theoretical to the majority of us. We are all experiencing the storms, the flooding, the economic and health devastation. And frankly, the terror and grief.

We humbly ask you to do what is needed by taking the stand that New York put at least $15 billion in this year’s budget to build the necessary capacity and gear up for the implementation of the CLCPA and the Climate Action Council (CAC) scoping plan. We also ask you to cosponsor the Build Public Renewables Act to make real the goals of the CLCPA with an investment of $15 billion per year. Knowing that the Climate Action Council’s Integration Analysis has projected costs of around $10 billion per year through 2030 to achieve the mandated emissions reductions, we are proposing $15 billion in this initial year for the major investments needed to retool our energy and transportation systems. This is a small fraction of the state’s economy, which will mainly fund in-state jobs for a just transition, whereas we currently send more than $30 billion out of state every year to purchase fossil fuels.

What might this investment accomplish in Assembly District 106?  As New York Renews points out, in Assembly District 106 and throughout the state, it will fund large-scale renewable infrastructure such as:

  • solar arrays
  • grid stability
  • electric vehicle infrastructure
  • improvements to public housing
  • school infrastructure
  • public transit

The funding will prioritize communities most impacted by pollution, climate change, and the transition to a fossil-free economy by investing in community-based organizations and creating local jobs. In addition, it will support direct grants for homeowners to make their buildings more energy efficient, transit vouchers to encourage the use of public transportation, and funds to reduce winter heating costs. This will enable local organizations to expand their reach and impact, connecting the Climate Act’s decarbonization goals with additional benefits such as zero-waste strategies and local food security projects. It will support essential education about the Climate Act and climate solutions, which is increasingly necessary as we are already seeing fossil-fuel-funded disinformation in the media. Funds could also support the continued development and enactment of well-defined regional strategic plans and collaboration around climate action.

Bold action often involves risk, but so does inaction. Those elected officials who take steps to fund the CLCPA and the CAC scoping plan, and to cosponsor the Build Public Renewables Act, will show they have the courage to stand up to the interests that keep us on track to disaster. They will have the respect and gratitude of the same majority that supported the passage of the CLCPA.

Let’s continue to work together to educate and build broad local support for these investments in climate, jobs, and justice throughout Assembly District 106. Everyone will benefit and deserves to know how. We look forward to your support and urge you to publish a press release in favor of these urgent legislative priorities.

There is so much we can all do to change our direction. At this highly critical junction, we urge our legislators to fund the implementation of this landmark legislation.

In appreciation for all you’ve done and with hopes of your support,

NY Renews coalition organizations and allies in the Upper Hudson Valley, including:

  • Sustainable Hudson Valley—Melissa Everett
  • Partners for Climate Action Hudson Valley—Matt Stinchcomb and Paige Ruane
  • Rivers & Mountains GreenFaith Circle—Michael Richardson and Gary Lewis
  • Friends of Columbia Solar—Juan-Pablo Velez
  • SunCommon—Jake Elliott
  • Capital District Democratic Socialists of America
  • Buddhist Action Coalition—Upper Hudson & Berkshires
  • Zero Waste Columbia
  • Neighborhood Sun
  • Basilica Hudson

The River is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the newsroom.

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