Congress did it again
You’ll recall that in June, the House of Representatives voted on H.R.2042 to stall the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which places a long overdue cap on carbon dioxide emissions from dirty power plants. New York already has these caps in place thanks to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), so the Clean Power Plan applies to all those states without standards that are fouling our air and making New Yorkers sick.
Incredibly, as world leaders convene in Paris to hammer out a global climate action plan, our own Congress voted on even more extreme and out-of-touch measures (S.J. Res. 23 and 24) to nullify the Clean Power Plan and – get this – block future climate action on dirty power plants until Congress requires it.
We are grateful that both of our U.S. Senators and most of our Representatives stood up for the people and voted "NAY" on these measures. But, several members of New York’s congressional delegation turned their backs on what is best for our state, and sided with polluters in Texas, Kentucky, and elsewhere.
Hear our Peter Iwanowicz provide an overview on The Capitol Pressroom.
Some key takeaways:
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook): he was the only Republican member of New York’s congressional delegation to vote correctly in June. Unfortunately, this week he flip-flopped and voted to roll back the Clean Power Plan which earlier this year he labeled as common-sense. Share your disappointment about Rep. Gibson’s flip-flop via email or on his Facebook page!
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro): she voted wrong in June, but then in September announced to her constituents, after significant criticism, that she was acknowledging that climate change is real and required bold action. Sadly, she voted again this week to block action. Share your disappointment about Rep. Stefanik’s anti-climate record via email or on her Facebook page!
Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus): he voted wrong in June, and after criticism, this time got it partially right. Rep. Katko voted to place carbon limits on new power plants, but not existing ones. He needs to understand that we cannot fight climate change without cutting carbon pollution from existing polluters. Share your thoughts with him via email or on his Facebook page!
Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld): he was the only Republican member of New York’s congressional delegation to vote correctly on both measures last night, and at this time appears to be one of only two nationwide to take a stand for climate science. Please leave thanks to Rep. Hanna via email or on his Facebook page!
New York’s climate and clean energy game-changer
We’ve been a bit of a broken record on the need for the state to place its climate action goals into law – and our relentlessness has created huge momentum. After several years of advocacy, Governor Cuomo recently announced that he will codify into state law that half of all our electricity will come from clean renewable sources by 2030, and there must also be a 40 percent reduction in overall carbon emissions by 2030!
This is a game-changer, and it will usher in unprecedented amounts of clean solar and wind-based energy. It also means cleaner air, healthier families, and a huge shift from the dirty ways of the past toward a growing green economy. We will be working closely with the Cuomo administration and state legislators to ensure the State's climate and clean energy goals are enacted into law.
Our members deserve credit. Over the last two years, thousands of you have written, called, and contacted Governor Cuomo urging him to take this action. Many times you were the only people consistently urging him toward climate leadership, and we cannot thank you enough. There is even more work which lies ahead, but we are getting there!
Making crude oil less volatile
When oil trains derail, the volatility of the fuel can have a significant impact on the size and severity of the explosion. Simply put: the higher the vapor pressure, the greater chance that lives will be lost if a rail car ruptures. This week we were pleased to support Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s call on the Obama Administration to require a dramatic reduction in the vapor pressure caused by oil-by-rail. Our goal is to move away from dirty fossil fuels entirely, and it is through immediate steps like this that we can increase safety and end the era of Big Oil having its way. Environmental Advocates applauds Attorney General Schneiderman for identifying ways to take action. For more information check out this piece from the Albany Times Union.
A statewide microbead ban in 2016
Since our last Watchdog Report, we’ve partnered with more County Legislators on microbead bans! Albany and Tompkins counties recently passed local bans, and an additional six communities who we’ve been working with are on deck to act.
When the state Senate failed to pass the Microbead-Free Waters Act earlier this year – despite overwhelming bipartisan support – local officials began stepping up to prevent this reckless plastic waste from entering our waterways.
As Niagara County Legislator Jason Zona recently told the press, “Ultimately we do want the state to be the one to put the ban in effect. It should be a state-wide issue, but until Albany acts, we’ll do it on the county end.” And, it is because local leaders are stepping up that we’re able to build a movement for a statewide ban in 2016. Help to spread the word by clicking the map above and sharing it on Facebook.