- Coalition: Cuomo Inaction on Climate Change Hurts New Yorkers

For Immediate Release: April 29, 2015

Coalition: Cuomo Inaction on Climate Change Hurts New Yorkers

Call for Action Plan Following DEC Commissioner’s Incredulous Remarks

New York – A coalition representing New Yorkers most impacted by climate change has called on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to take sides and implement a comprehensive climate action plan following remarks from Joseph Martens, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), that New Yorkers should not hold their breath waiting for one.

“I was minutes away from losing my daughter when my roof collapsed on her bed during Hurricane Sandy,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities Change. “Because of man-made climate change, extreme weather events will continue to put low-income families and communities at risk of losing everything unless we take real action to stop it now. That’s why Governor Cuomo’s neglect of creating a serious and comprehensive plan to address climate change is so devastating for me. We need urgent and immediate action; if New York State doesn’t make a plan now, it will be too late.”

“Every day that Governor Cuomo fails to deliver a climate action plan hurts our communities and working families,” said Bill Lipton, founder and state director of the Working Families Party. “The real story of climate change in New York are the Sandy and Irene survivors trying to recover and find a place to call home, the loved ones with increased medical bills due to poor air quality, and the neighbors struggling to put healthy food on the table because extreme weather has driven up costs. Governor Cuomo cannot ignore these realities. New York needs a climate action plan, and it’s past time for the Governor to provide one.”

“Governor Cuomo wonders why there's confusion about his position on climate change, but after four years he's failed to implement a comprehensive plan for cutting New York's greenhouse gas emissions,” said Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action of New York. “The most vulnerable communities are already facing the brunt of climate change and every minute without a climate action plan takes us one step closer toward a future where the worst climate change scenario becomes reality. New Yorkers can't afford the governor's inaction.”

Jose Lopez, lead organizer for Make the Road New York said, “Immigrant and working-class communities want to see the DEC taking clear steps forward on one of the greatest issues of our time, climate change. It’s time for New York to develop a clear climate plan and take leadership in addressing the threat that faces our planet, our country, and our state.”

No Plan Leads to Bad Policy

Despite the widespread human and economic toll climate change has had on New York, the Cuomo Administration is now more than two years late in finalization of the State Energy Plan, has delayed release of the Clean Energy Fund as part of the Reforming Energy Vision (REV) process several times, recently raided the state’s premier carbon abatement program, provided a bailout to the Dunkirk coal plant, and further delayed implementation of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006. The Administration has even strengthened the hand of climate science-deniers within Congress by complaining that the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon cap rule for power plants is too strong, even though it’s modeled after New York’s own Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

“When the Cuomo Administration makes decisions in the absence of a climate plan, it leads to bad public policy that hurts people,” explained Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. “For every step forward, another poorly vetted Cuomo Administration policy takes us a step back. This isn’t up for debate, climate change is hurting communities and our economy. We need a climate action plan. Inaction will be the Governor’s legacy if he doesn’t step up and implement a plan for his administration and our state to follow.”