Thursday, June 2, 2016

Important Climate Bill Passed by NY State Assembly - Fueled by People Power

Photo: Twitter @32BJSEIU 
By David Kowalski

Hundreds of New Yorkers stood together at the State Capitol in Albany on June 1st, rallying to move the NYS Assembly to pass an important new bill, the Climate and Community Protection Act.

If passed, the bill would require that New York move away from dirty fossil fuels, which cause pollution and global warming, and shift to clean, renewable energy that would lead to new jobs, healthy communities, and help stabilize the climate.

People participating in the rally comprised a broad coalition of environmental justice, climate activist, conservation and labor groups.
Buffalo was well represented by members of the Climate Justice Coalition of WNY, Sierra Club Niagara Group, PUSH Buffalo, Massachusetts Avenue Project,  and concerned citizens -- three bus loads of people!

Also present were representatives of unions and the Working Families Party along with the national president of the Sierra Club, Aaron Mair, and the NY state chapter chair, Roger Downs.

We rallied outside with hundreds of others and listened to speakers representing different groups tell their stories and express the need for the legislation and their demands. Then we marched through the Capitol building while the Assembly was in session, making our voices heard with chants and our messages visible with signs.

After gently directing the chanting throngs of concerned citizens in the Capitol hallways and also in the area with a full view of the Assembly Chamber, a Capitol official said to me "this is the way democracy is supposed to work." Right on!

Here is a 1 minute Video that features people from Buffalo (it also includes Sierra Club officials cited above). The video shows a few of the activities at the outdoor rally and also the march inside the State Capitol and a view of the Assembly Chamber:

                                                         Video: David Kowalski
To view Photos taken at the Capitol Climate Rally, Click Here
National Sierra Club president, Aaron Mair, speaks on clean energy, jobs & justice: Listen Here 
~     ~     ~

The Assembly vote was cast hours after we left Albany to return to Buffalo.

The Assembly heard the call of the people and passed the Climate and Community Protection Act (A.10342) by an overwhelming vote of 96 to 43.

We stood together for Climate, Jobs and Justice -- and We Won!

Thanks go to Assembly Member Steve Englebright for sponsoring the bill and to the many co-sponsors (Englebright appears in the last slide of the video speaking to us in the Capitol).

Now, New York is on a path to 100% clean renewable energy legislation.

The Assembly legislation requires the state to transition electricity generation to 50% renewable energy by 2030, 100% by 2050, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

Importantly, the legislation places emphasis on environmental and economic justice, prioritizing the safety and health of disadvantaged communities. Furthermore, it protects communities and workers by creating new jobs and providing a justice-based transition.

The Assembly legislation is now in the hands of the NYS Senate and has been referred to the Environmental Conservation committee.

The photo below gives an idea of the size of the coalition that rallied on the Capitol steps (Click image to enlarge):

For more information about the bill, see 'The New York Assembly Just Passed The Nation’s Most Ambitious Climate Bill' at Think Progress.

To see how your Assembly Member voted, click here.

Thanks to NY Renews for organizing the rally and spearheading action on the bill.


Richard Steinberg said...

Great work on the visuals and blog post David. It's great to shout out about victories that effect all of us so profoundly. Thanks - Rick

Chuck said...

Terrific, Dave...thank you so much. On to the Senate -- and who knows, they may see the writing on the wall and not drag their feet. The choice is fairly simple: Favor the mega-corporations to the detriment of people and communities, or, choose a better future for the people, especially the little ones who cannot choose but must rely on their parents and elders to leave the environment clean and healthy. It's such a simple choice.