The executive director of the Environmental Advocates of New York this week in a letter to lawmakers sought to rebut criticism of the Climate and Community Protection Act.

The letter to Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright praises the measures “aggressive and accountable mandates” for transitioning New York to renewable energy within the next 30 years.

But the letter from Peter Iwanowicz also seeks to push back against Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras criticism, namely that requiring the elimination of greenhouse gases is a “legal requirement that would create a sea change in every facet of daily life.”

“Thirty years to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions will dramatically alter air travel — and impact the billions of dollars in investment we’re making at our airports, how we heat our homes, types of vehicles we drive, agriculture, emergency services, and various other ways of life. In the abstract it sounds fine, but it runs into what I call ‘people-people’ problems,” Malatras wrote in a blog post. “You can’t shock the body politic without a developed program or people sympathetic to your cause will turn against you.”

Malatras was writing favorably of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Green New Deal, which he called “more aggressive than California” and lay down mandates for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040 using existing power sources, including nuclear energy “as a bridge.”

In the letter rebutting the criticism, Iwanowicz takes issue with the criticism of the legislative proposal.

Mr. Malatras’ first point, that putting climate goals into law would be counter-productive is easily dismissed. In this regard, New York is already behind. California and Massachusetts have put climate goals into law and are moving swiftly to meet them. They have reoriented government decisions to meet these goals. No calamity has befallen them. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. Both states have seen a clean energy boom and are enjoying the accompanying economic benefits.

But even more so, Mr. Malatras’ argument overlooks the frontline communities who are today suffering the effects of climate change and pollution. For them, eliminating climate pollution is not an academic or political exercise, but a matter of life and death. From this perspective, a transition to a 100% renewable energy economy is not, as Mr. Malatras states, an “ideological purity test,” but rather a moral obligation. We need the strongest laws possible to guarantee equity and justice to these frontline communities.

The full letter can be found here.