NY Groups Call for End to State Fossil-Fuel Subsidies
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
ALBANY, N.Y. - More than 150 organizations have sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, asking them to remove fossil-fuel subsidies from the state budget.
The demand from a coalition of student, faith, labor, political and environmental groups says spending more than $1.5 billion a year on subsidies for fossil fuels that accelerate climate change - while making deep cuts to essential services - is "outrageous and unconscionable."
Marco Volpita, co-director of government affairs for New York Youth Climate Leaders, noted that oil and gas wells will continue to operate as long as they're profitable.
"Removing direct subsidies will decrease the amount of fossil fuels that come out of the ground, pollute our atmosphere and harm our communities," he said.
The groups also sent lawmakers a petition with more than 2,000 signatures, calling for passage of legislation to identify all fossil-fuel subsidies and their impacts on the state.
Senate Bill S-2649-C was sponsored by state Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. She said giving tax incentives to maximize the use of oil and gas runs counter to New York's ambitious climate-protection goals.
"Our job, our mission, our obligation is to decrease our dependence on these products as fast as possible," she said. "The clock is ticking."
Her bill passed in the Senate but not the Assembly, and will be reintroduced in the next legislative session.
Marissa Guerrero, environmental justice and New York regional advocacy coordinator for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the state budget has lost almost $63 billion to the COVID pandemic - but tax breaks, credits, refunds and exemptions for the fossil-fuel industry still are on the books.
"It's now time for New York state to get ahold of its budget and stop giving handouts to the well-heeled fossil-fuel industry," she said. "We don't have time or money to lose."
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