For Immediate Release

Climate Coalition Delivers $7 Billion Check to Governor Cuomo

NY renews coalition calls on Cuomo to back corporate polluter fee, generating billions in revenue and thousands of jobs for state.

Albany, NY - Dozens of local residents and members of NY Renews—a statewide coalition comprised of 140 labor, community, and environmental groups—delivered a $7 billion check to Governor Cuomo’s office on Tuesday afternoon. The figure represents the amount New York State would generate in revenue by instituting a corporate polluter fee on carbon emissions, according to a recent University of Massachusetts study. The demonstrators--who hailed from as far away as Buffalo and Long Island--called on the Governor to ‘cash the check’, and invest the polluter fee revenue in a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, creating tens of thousands of jobs and protecting communities on the frontlines of climate change.

Earlier in the day, dozens of coalition members packed the Environmental Conversation Committee’s 2018-2019 budget hearing, brandishing signs exhorting the Governor that “New York Needs 100% Renewables” and to “Make Polluters Pay”. Geovaira Hernandez, a 22 year-old from Buffalo, stood and publicly called on the Governor to commit to 100% renewable energy, step up his climate action, and protect environmental justice communities. The demonstrators then exited the hearing en masse, in a clear message to the Governor that his budget must go further to address the worsening climate crisis.

Tuesday’s demonstration built on growing momentum among state officials for the idea of holding corporate climate polluters financially accountable for their emissions. Last week Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke out for the first time in favor of pricing carbon as a means to innovation and investment in renewables, joining Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who expressed his support for the idea in December.

"To curb the worst effects of climate change, we need to step up our investment in renewable energy infrastructure. Governor Cuomo could fund this through a common sense polluter fee, but so far he's resisted holding giant corporations accountable for contaminating our air and water," said Jamaica Miles, Lead Organizer for Citizen Action of New York. "Climate action needs to be more than just a footnote in the Executive Budget."

In his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo announced some positive environmental policies but fell far short of supporting a plan to hold polluters accountable and move New York State to 100% renewable energy. With Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey supporting a 100% by 2050 goal, and Governor Jay Inslee of Washington championing a polluter fee to fund renewable energy development, Governor Cuomo is increasingly being seen as falling behind in the ambition of his climate policies.

The fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, along with this past fall’s hurricanes that devastated Florida, Puerto Rico and Houston are a pretty blunt reminder: aggressive action on climate change could not be more urgent,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of Greenfaith. “We need Gov. Cuomo to get the Climate & Community Protection Act passed this session, and commit to a corporate polluter fee.”

NY State faces a major opportunity to take the lead in providing climate solutions, while making polluters pay for the damage they have done to the planet,” said  Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN (Alliance for a Greater New York). “This will mean we can invest in the communities that have been harmed the most by climate change, and protect workers and their families during the transition from fossil fuels.”

"People like me across this State are tired of waiting for the Governor and the Legislature to improve the quality of life of vulnerable New Yorkers. Everyone should have access to warm, insulated homes, and affordable solar and other forms of renewable energy. Those of us on the frontlines of the climate crisis are stuck in Swiss cheese houses with bandaid support from programs like the Home Energy Assistance Program, when what we really need are real solutions and a permanent fix! We are tired of the fossil fuel industry polluting our communities. We demand that our elected officials take steps now to make corporate polluters pay their fair share for the climate and clean energy solutions we desperately need and deserve. We've waited long enough!" said Luz Velez, member of PUSH Buffalo.

“We need the community to be a part of all the changes we want to make here in New York. We want green renewable infrastructure to maintain the health of our state, and we want those jobs that come from this plan to reach the hands of the communities most impacted by this climate crisis,” said John Zhune, member of Make the Road New York.

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