From the Nation’s Capital to Nassau County, a Week of Environmental Advocacy

By Peter Aronson

From a panel discussion on decarbonizing buildings in Albany, to a Washington D.C. fly-in to lobby congress on climate issues, to delivering public comments in support of offshore wind projects on Long Island, NYLCV/EF is pressing hard on multiple fronts to address the complex and multi-faceted climate crisis as the state tries to meet its stated goal of achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2040.

“If we are to stem the tide of climate change, everyone needs to come together and work toward solutions,” said Julie Tighe, NYLCV president. “By that I mean the public; unions; advocacy groups; industry leaders, particularly those in the energy, transportation and construction sectors; and our elected leaders–from Congress to the Statehouse to local officials.”

To that end, in Albany last week, the UpgradeNY collaboration, of which NYLCV is  a leading member,  hosted a panel discussion to talk about and urge Gov. Kathy Hochul and other New York policymakers to decarbonize state-owned buildings and schools through a local, union-led job force. The goal is to have all state buildings 100 percent decarbonized by 2040, and to do this in an equitable way.

“We are calling for at least 40 percent of investments and benefits to go toward disadvantaged communities,” Tighe said. “This means recruiting and supporting a diverse union workforce from communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change.”

The following day, NYLCV Policy Director Patrick McClellan joined a lobby day in support of Governor Hochul’s proposed housing compact, specifically focusing on the environmental benefits of transit-oriented development. As a member of New York Neighbors, a statewide, pro-homes coalition, NYLCV has been an outspoken advocate for the need to increase transit-friendly housing supply in the state.

In Washington D. C., NYLCV’s Senior VP Joshua Klainberg and NYLCV Federal Campaigns Manager Matt Salton were part of a group from 25 other state conservation voter leagues who went to our nation’s capital to lobby their respective Congressional delegations. Klainberg and Salton met with the offices of 14 New York members from both sides of the political aisle during a series of meetings. They impressed upon the representatives and their staffs about the climate provisions and funds available to communities within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Members are very interested in communicating about these benefits,” Salton said. Another key takeaway from the meetings is that there is bipartisan support for climate smart agriculture funding and technical assistance in the Inflation Reduction Act that environmentalists hope to see implemented as is within the 2023 Farm Bill, which is designed to improve food and nutrition security across the country.      

At the same time, Nia Rhodes Jackson, NYLCVEF’s VP of Programming, joined a group with the Coalition for the Upper Delaware to lobby the offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representatives Ryan and Molinaro to protect the important Delaware River Watershed, which, combined with the Catskill Watershed, provides 90 percent of New York City’s water.

Meanwhile, NYLCV was also on Long Island as multiple offshore wind projects make their way through public comment periods. Casey Petrashek, NYLCV’s Deputy Director for Politics, appeared at a Long Beach City Council meeting where he spoke out in support of the Empire Wind project, which is divided between Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2 and will power Brooklyn and the Long Beach area, respectively.

“We know fighting climate change is important to Long Beach residents because Long Beach is on the front lines of climate change,” said Petrashek. “Without a transition away from fossil fuels, rising sea levels threaten Long Beach’s way of life.”

Petrashek also delivered remarks recently at two separate NYS Public Service Commission hearings–one on Empire Wind and the other on the Sunrise Wind project, which is located approximately 30 miles off Montauk and will generate 924 megawatts of energy and power nearly 600,000 Long Island homes. Both hearings were on the Article VII process, which looks at the impact of the cable connection both offshore in NY waters and onshore.

Through all these efforts, the NYLCV is stressing communication, coordination, and collaboration as we march forward in our effort combat the climate crisis and bring real and impactful change to New York.

03.17.23 // AUTHOR: Michelle Loree //