For Immediate Release: September 22, 2020
Albany – Today, over 50 advocates, spanning community and environmental justice organizations, clean energy trade associations, and green groups, called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to prevent the impacts of the current economic crisis from deepening the severity of the climate crisis by preserving climate and clean energy funds for their intended purpose.
The letter highlights the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) — the lead agency in implementing the state’s new climate law — and its proven track record supporting projects like community solar, energy efficiency, and transportation electrification, which both create jobs and lead to healthier, cleaner communities across New York. Clean energy programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) pay for these programs.
With the duel benefit of fighting climate change and putting New Yorkers to work, these clean energy programs will be critical to the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. But unfortunately, these funds also have a history of being raided during times of fiscal stress. For example, since RGGI’s inception in 2008, approximately 17% of all funds raised ($228 million) have been transferred to the state’s General Fund instead of being invested in communities on the front lines of climate change.
Excerpt from the letter:
The clean energy industry in New York is one of the fastest growing industries in the state economy, employing nearly 159,000 people (prior to the pandemic), and clean energy jobs have grown by more than 8% since 2016. Clean energy job growth doubled the average statewide job growth in 2018. This impressive job growth in recent years has made New York the fourth largest clean energy economy in the nation. Climate and clean energy programs run by NYSERDA directly benefit communities because they create well paying, long-term, local jobs. As we experienced coming out of the Great Recession a decade ago, clean energy jobs have a track record for boosting economic recovery, while also directly benefiting communities by lowering energy costs and decreasing air pollution.
Peter M. Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY said, “It’s simple, New Yorkers live up to their commitments—and so should our government. New York State runs some outstanding programs that support local economies while improving our health and environment. Unfortunately, the funding that supports those programs has been vulnerable to raids to fill budget holes, like the one we are now facing. Stripping away support for these programs again, especially while the world is watching how we implement our new climate law, is short-sighted and sends a bad signal. New York must do better this time and preserve these clean energy funds.”