For immediate release
Albany, NY — In a letter issued to state legislators today, a broad coalition of organizations, including Food & Water Watch, Environmental Advocates NY, the Public Utility Law Project, NAACP, New York Communities for Change and PUSH Buffalo, applauded Governor Cuomo’s proposal, contained in his budget, to ensure that New Yorkers have access to water and other essential utilities during times of crisis. Letter signatories also offered recommendations for strengthening the proposal.
The NY State Senate plans to vote today on a bill sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker to extend New York’s current COVID-19 utility shutoff moratorium. While advocates applauded the Senate for taking action to address this urgent issue, they urged the State Legislature to adopt a more comprehensive approach to protect consumers who cannot pay their utility bills, as outlined in the letter.
Citing research from Duke University and the National Bureau of Economic Research confirming that utility shutoff-moratoria prevent COVID-19 infections and save lives, letter signatories emphasized the need for policies to protect all New Yorkers in all states of emergency both present and future.
In response, Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Eric Weltman issued the following statement:
“Whether taking the most basic of COVID-19 precautions and washing our hands, or safeguarding the fundamental right to water, Governor Cuomo’s proposal sends the message loud and clear: Nothing should stand in the way of our right to clean water, energy and other core utilities. Our state legislators must pick up the torch on this issue and ensure that protections are applied equitably to all New Yorkers during all emergencies. With these protections, New York can set the national standard for utility shutoff moratoria and equitable consumer protections in periods of crisis.”