Dec. 16, 2016
UUP: NY must lead fight against climate change
UUP has joined the call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to address climate change with unprecedented and sweeping reforms built into the upcoming state budget, as a buffer against the promised environmental destruction of the incoming Trump administration.
“It is imperative that New York take the lead to stop this mad rush to destruction,” UUP President Fred Kowal said at a Dec. 16 news conference, called by NY Renews, a coalition of labor, religious and environmental organizations committed to the promotion of clean, renewable energy and protections against global warming.
The coalition called the news conference, held at the state Capitol in Albany, to urge the governor to support the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act. It was one of several press conferences held across the state by NY Renews.
“Labor and environmentalists are natural allies,” said Kowal, who was joined at the Capitol by representatives of a half-dozen organizations that are advocating for New York Renews. “UUP stands ready to strengthen the Blue-Green alliance. In this way, we will preserve our sacred Earth, the land that sustains us, our children and our children’s children, down to the seventh generation.”
UUP VPA Jamie Dangler, above right, attended the press event. She was joined by Mary Beilby, far left, a Cortland Chapter retiree.
Broad-based climate protections
The New York State Climate and Community Protection Act was drafted last spring by Bob Cohen, policy director of Citizen Action of New York. The bill passed the Assembly but died in the Senate. NY Renews is now calling on the governor to incorporate the key provisions of the bill into the upcoming budget, and reported just before the news conference that Cuomo is considering that step.
The bill dealt with climate change through 10 provisions that would, among other actions, set statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits, create a state climate action council, offer special protections against the effects of climate change to disadvantaged communities and seek to link job growth to economic opportunities afforded by renewable energy and action against climate change.
Cuomo has been supportive of policies that link technology and renewable energy to economic growth. The governor was in accord with UUP last year on the role that SUNY can play in melding environmental protections with education and jobs, when he put $15 million into the state budget for the creation of SUNY educational programs focusing on jobs in the renewable energy field.
Dire climate future under Trump
Donald Trump has been openly contemptuous of credible scientific evidence of global warming; has pledged to renew the coal industry and has promised to tear up most of President Obama’s policies designed to protect the country’s natural resources and limit coal-fired power plant emissions.
Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a strong critic of President Obama’s emissions-control policies, to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state, ExonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has spent his entire career in the fossil-fuel industry.
Kowal contrasted the dire outlook for federal environmental and climate-change policy against the opportunity for New York’s governor to set a new national standard for state action against global warming, when he reminded the audience at the news conference that they stood on land once governed by the Iroquois Confederacy.
“I am confident that Governor Cuomo and the state legislature will embrace the ancient wisdom,” Kowal said. “The governor has already shown himself to be a strong environmental ally, and he’s taken significant steps to move the state toward a clean energy economy. Enacting the Climate and Community Protection Act is the next logical step.”
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