Left Launches Climate Change Push to Pressure Cuomo
This is a longer version of an item we reported in Morning Memo today:
Joined by two of New York’s top statewide elected officials, a variety of left-leaning organizations today is launching a new climate change effort, hoping to push the governor into putting some of his proposals on the issue into law, rather than relying solely on regulations and policy pronouncements.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will headline events at opposite ends of the state this evening (the former in Buffalo, the latter in NYC) to kick off the NY Renews campaign for jobs, environmental justice and 100% renewable energy.
The campaign is being supported by more than 40 community, environmental and labor groups – from 350.org, the organization created by nationally known activist and author Bill McKibben; to Citizen Action of New York and the labor-backed Working Families Party.
At tonight’s events, which were strategically scheduled to come in the wake of the Paris climate talks, participants will unveil their 2016 legislative agenda, which focuses in part on making the state’s commitment to reducing emissions and incentivizing renewables “legally enforceable.”
NY Renews also aims to establish specific benchmarks and reporting requirements every four years until 2050 to make sure the state is hitting its reduction and renewables targets, and also hopes to include an environmental justice component into its climate change agenda.
Finally, the campaign will call for making sure the renewable economy creates “good” jobs by applying a prevailing wage requirement to both construction and operations projects that that call for spending over $1 million.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been talking the talk on the issue. He appeared in October with former Vice President Al Gore to announce New York would participate in a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the world’s temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.
More recently, Cuomo directed the Public Service Commission to design and enact a new Clean Energy Standard mandating that 50 percent of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 result from clean and renewable energy sources.
These are good steps, climate activists say, but they’re worried that whoever succeeds Cuomo in the governor’s office could ignore, change or even jettison these and other requirements altogether unless they are codified in law by the Legislature.
Also, with the ongoing gridlock on Washington, D.C. activists think the president has done all he can on climate change by executive order and they’re looking to the states to lead. California has made great strides in this arena, they say, but New York could do more.
“It’s a challenge and an opportunity for the governor with two out of three statewide elected officials on board,” one NY Renews organizer said. “…A lot of people believe this could believe this might be the third part of his legacy after same-sex marriage and minimum wage.”
Cuomo has been steadily tacking to the left of late, using his own executive powers when necessary to circumvent the Senate Republicans – several of whom, including Majority Leader John Flanagan – have questioned whether climate change even exists.
It remains to be seen how far he is willing to go to burnish his liberal credentials and curry favor with the left-leaning wing of the Democratic Party, with which he has not always seen eye-to-eye.
NY Renews organizers say they are gearing up for a long-term campaign, and are already looking beyond the 2016 session in hopes that New York will establish itself as a leader on their issue.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on December 16, 2015 at 6:29 am, and is filed under 2016, Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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