Climate activists demanding faster switch to renewable energy

Legislative Gazette photo by James Heffernan <br< Assemblymen William Colton, left, and Felix Ortiz, participate in a protest in the Capitol on Tuesday, calling for a faster switch to renewable energy in New York State. Their bill would see New York switch to 100 percent green energy by 2030.

Dozens of climate change activists rallied outside of the Senate chambers in the state Capitol on Tuesday demanding the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo adopt a plan to move off fossil fuels by 2030.

Assemblymen Bill Colton and Felix Ortiz were there to promote the New York Off Fossil Fuels Act (A.3565). The bill would move the state completely off fossil fuels and nuclear power by the year 2030.

“We cannot continue to build infrastructure around a fossil fuel economy,” said Colton, the bill’s sponsor.

Ortiz, a cos-sponsor, added that “We are in an environmental crisis”

The Legislature recently held a series of hearings around the Climate and Community Protection Act, a bill that calls for 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and zero overall emissions by 2050. On Tuesday, members of the climate movement called for a much faster timeline.

“Meaningful action on climate change is a race against time and requires us to do three coordinated things at once: rapidly deploy renewable energy, stop the build-out of fossil fuel infrastructure, and help New York’s farmers turn our soil into a carbon warehouse via regenerative agriculture,” said Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and cofounder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. “It’s a triathlon, and New York Off Fossil Fuels Act gets us across the finish line.”

The bill is in the Energy Committee. There is no Senate version.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the we have 12 years left for a dramatic climate action to save life on the planet. We need New York State to be a leader and pass the strongest climate legislation possible” said Mark Dunlea, chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund.

After a press conference the activists moved to the second floor of the Capitol to protest outside of the governor’s office, chanting and calling for Cuomo to stop construction of the Williams Gas Pipeline, a proposed natural gas line that would run from Pennsylvania, through New Jersey into New York City.