- New Yorkers Applaud First-Ever Federal Carbon Protections

For Immediate Release: August 3, 2015

New Yorkers Applaud First-Ever Federal Carbon Protections

Climate & Public Health Standards Come Ahead of Pope’s NY Visit, World Summit

NEW YORK – New York elected officials, clean energy and public health advocates, environmental justice leaders, and many more today applauded President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for finalizing the first-ever nationwide protections from dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. These new standards, which are a key piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, put public health first by finally cleaning up industries that create the lion’s share of carbon pollution, as well as advance the growth of clean, renewable energy in New York and across the country.

The new protections will also help reduce other life-threatening air pollution including mercury, soot, and smog, and come weeks ahead of Pope Francis’ New York visit, during which he will implore global leaders to act to protect those hardest hit by climate change, including seniors, low-income communities and communities of color.

“From Superstorm Sandy to crippling floods and heat waves, New Yorkers in my district and throughout our great state know all too well the devastating impacts that climate disruption has on our homes, our communities, and our way of life. Today, our nation is taking bold and historic action to address the growing threat of climate disruption and to protect the health of families throughout our country,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Nassau).

“The Clean Power Plan will strengthen public health, invest in clean and renewable energy, and present a tremendous opportunity for businesses to innovate and further develop our green-collar economy. This is a big win for every state, most of all New York, which has been a national leader in this arena for more than a decade through RGGI. As a RGGI state, New Yorkers know first hand what others will soon see, that this program will bring improvements to health, the economy, and our nation as a whole,” said Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Albany).

Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-Bronx) said, “While there is more work to be done, I applaud President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency for finalizing these historic safeguards to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. This proposal will ensure that our kids, communities and New York’s workforce are healthier, while also creating much-needed jobs and fighting climate disruption. As a longtime supporter of environmental justice and protection, especially in urban areas, I look forward to working with the President and other local elected leaders to facilitate the implementation of this plan in New York City and the rest of the country.”

 “Protecting our Earth’s natural resources is a key priority of mine, along with Governor Cuomo and President Obama. This plan is a strong step in the right direction, and it is my hope that New York will continue to show leadership in protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions in our atmosphere,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn).

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “Climate change is real, the science is clear, the impacts hurt people, and it’s time that all public officials either get on board with finding solutions, or get out of the way. Environmental Advocates applauds President Obama and the EPA for finalizing this rule – it wasn’t easy to complete, and industry and their allies in Congress tried everything they could to let polluters off the hook. Pope Francis and world leaders are calling for action, and this critical first step proves the United States is ready to lead and sets the stage for a global climate action plan.”

Carbon pollution causes climate disruption and has had an enormous human and economic impact, taking lives and costing Americans billions of dollars from flooding, super-storms, wildfires, and extreme heat. New York and the Northeast have been particularly hard-hit by droughts, floods, and disasters like Superstorm Sandy, which have devastated New York’s coastal communities.

“We believe that The EPA has taken a step in the right direction with the clean power plan. However, we encourage them to use their mandate and fulfill their legal duties to ensure that low income and communities of color will be protected,” said Jalonne White-Newsome, Federal Policy Analyst at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

In 2014, a committee of scientific experts in agriculture, climate science, commerce and disaster relief released the National Climate Assessment (NCA). The national assessment predicts New York can expect even more heat waves, significant sea level rise, more flooding and poorer air and water quality in the decades ahead. The rapidly changing climate poses a threat to New York’s diverse economy, our health, our families and our communities, which face increasing costs of cleaning up climate-related weather disasters.

"Doctors and medical professionals throughout New York see the impacts of power plant pollution every day through asthma attacks, exacerbations of chronic lung disease, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical problems,” said Alan Lockwood, MD, Professor Emeritus at the University at Buffalo and Senior Scientist at Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Reducing carbon pollution from power plants will have enormous public health benefits for families throughout our state, especially the most vulnerable among us such as children, the elderly, and those with chronic medical problems.

New York State has already demonstrated leadership in reducing carbon pollution, with significant economic benefits to show for it. According to a recently released report by Analysis Group, between just 2012 and 2014, revenues from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade effort of Northeast states to reduce carbon pollution, has created more than 14,000 new jobs and saved consumers over $360 million in lower electric bills. Additionally, since the program’s inception in 2008, RGGI has generated more than $2 billion in revenue for investment in a clean, green economy for the region – nearly $800 million for New York State alone – proving that capping carbon pollution is a win-win.

Earlier this summer, Governor Cuomo finalized the New York State Energy Plan, a bold policy framework which establishes clear goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, generate 50 percent of our electricity from renewable sources, and increase energy efficiency 23 percent by 2030. These goals are a key part of moving New York forward to combat the immediacy of the threat of climate change and establish itself as a national renewable energy leader.

“In New York, we’ve already seen the enormous economic benefits of reducing carbon pollution and investing in clean, renewable energy like wind and solar. Through state leadership under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Governor Cuomo’s bold goals under the New York State Energy Plan, we have charted a course towards more clean energy jobs, less carbon pollution, and a stronger future for our region,” said Mark Kresowik, Deputy Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.  “We call on Governor Cuomo and state leaders to lead the region by going above and beyond minimum federal protections. New York can lead by example by showing we can and should do more to protect public health and advance clean energy solutions.”

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Contact:

Shane Levy, Sierra Club, shane.levy@sierraclub.org, 201-679-9507

Travis Proulx, Environmental Advocates of New York, tproulx@eany.org, (518) 462-5526 ext. 238

Coleman Lamb, Rep. Kathleen Rice’s office, coleman.lamb@mail.house.gov , (202) 225-5516

Sean Magers, Rep. Paul Tonko’s office, sean.magers@mail.house.gov, (202) 225-5076

Michael Hardaway, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ office, michael.hardaway@mail.house.gov, (202) 679-1439

Paola Amador, Rep. Jose E. Serrano’s office, paola.amador@mail.house.gov, 202-225-4361