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NY State Faith Leaders for the Climate and Community Protection Act

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New York needs a climate policy that commits to ambitious emissions reductions, invests in protection and resources for the communities most impacted, and establishes family-sustaining wages and safe conditions for the workers who will build the renewable energy economy. Add your name and join the call for climate action now!

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Dear Governor Cuomo, Senate Leader Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Heastie,

If you lived in a community that is extremely vulnerable to climate change, wouldn’t you want the state to invest in your protection and resilience?

If you were a worker helping to transform our economy to a renewable energy future, wouldn’t you want basic wage standards to protect you from economic exploitation?

We are writing to you as faith leaders deeply concerned about the climate crisis to urge you to pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA, S2992/A3876) during this legislative session. This bill represents a state response to climate change in a manner that is consistent with our moral values of compassion, equity and justice. It is the right bill at a critically important time and it has our wholehearted support.

This bill has passed the test of rigorous scrutiny and considerable public visibility. The State Senate held five hearings on the bill, with the Assembly holding a sixth on May 17. In the past month, the CCPA has been covered in the Washington Post, the Nation, City & State, Gotham Gazette, Albany Times Union, and WNYC, among others, with coverage being overwhelmingly positive. The Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker have reiterated their commitment to using the CCPA as a vehicle for climate legislation that will pass this year. The Governor’s secretary for Energy and the Environment has said publicly that the CCPA is the vehicle for climate legislation this year.

Despite this strong affirmation, we are deeply disappointed to see that a far weaker alternative - the Climate Leadership Act (CLA) - appears to have the backing of a number of state leaders. We want to reaffirm our support for key provisions of the CCPA. Any climate policy New York State passes this year should include these provisions:

  • A legally enforceable economy-wide target for greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Governor’s proposal only sets a legally enforceable standard for emissions from electricity, which makes up less than 20% of NY State’s emissions. Transportation and buildings make up the bulk of NY State’s emissions (66%).
  • 40% investment of state energy funds directed towards communities on the front lines of climate change and pollution. Polluting facilities and environmental hazards are more likely to be sited in communities of color and low-income communities, causing disproportionate exposure to pollution and related illnesses. These communities suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change, including flooding and severe heat. The Governor’s proposal includes no targeted investment for frontline communities.
  • Prevailing wage standards for green jobs receiving state support. Analysis shows that the CCPA would create 150,000 jobs over the first decade. Unlike the current state energy policy, fair labor standards and prevailing wages will be attached to all projects that flow from this legislation, ensuring middle-class wages for green economy workers. The Governor’s proposal does not include wage standards for green jobs.

The CCPA addresses the urgency of the climate crisis in a manner that invests in our most vulnerable communities and in the dignity of workers. The Governor’s proposal fails far short of of these priorities which need to be included in a comprehensive approach to dealing with climate change. We ask that you work together and pass the CCPA with the speed that it deserves. In faith,