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Environmentalists Call for Commitment to New Climate Spending

Investing clean-energy dollars in vulnerable communities creates jobs and fights climate change. (surasak/Adobe Stock)
Investing clean-energy dollars in vulnerable communities creates jobs and fights climate change. (surasak/Adobe Stock)
February 11, 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A coalition of environmental, justice, faith, labor and community groups says Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget comes up short on protecting vulnerable communities from climate change. In a letter sent to state legislators, New York Renews says the budget proposal doesn't contain the funding needed to implement the state's newly enacted Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

According to Raya Salter, the group's policy organizer, they want lawmakers to dedicate $1 billion to promote renewable-energy adoption and community resilience.

"A Climate and Community Investment Fund would focus on energy and infrastructure and energy efficiency, but also pivot towards how can we start protecting communities hardest hit by the climate crisis," Salter said.

The CLCPA, signed into law last year, requires that disadvantaged communities receive at least 40% of the benefits of clean-energy spending. Salter pointed out investing clean-energy dollars in vulnerable communities not only would advance the fight against climate change but also bring much-needed jobs to low-income areas.

"It's like a win-win," she said. "You get local jobs created doing the projects that need to happen to stop the climate crisis and will simultaneously protect communities from the climate crisis."

New York Renews also is asking legislators to exercise oversight of climate spending and to hold hearings on implementation of the climate law.

The governor claims to have a 5-year, $33 billion climate action plan. But Salter noted, with the exception of a proposed conservation bond act, the vast majority of the money for that plan would come from previously committed funds.

"When you look under the hood, you see that there's actually very little in the way of new dollars," she said. "And so there's a lot of big talk about big investments in climate, but in reality, it's status quo and even less than status quo."

She said legislators need to plug the holes in the climate budget and ensure that the money is spent wisely.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY