Over 80 New York Groups Tell Congress: Leave Dirty Power Out of Clean Energy Standard

Advocates raise concerns that proposals, including Representative Tonko’s, include fracked gas, carbon capture and bogus offsets

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Climate and Energy

Albany, NY — More than 80 New York advocacy and grassroots groups joined more than 650 national organizations in releasing a letter to Congress yesterday calling for a truly clean, renewable energy standard as part of the evolving infrastructure package.

To meet its new climate goals, the Biden administration is expected to back a national Clean Energy Standard (CES), which some advocates argue can pass under existing budget reconciliation rules.

But the groups releasing the letter — including Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, Riverkeeper, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, New York Youth Climate Leaders, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and 350Brooklyn — are critical of current CES plans that qualify fracked gas, carbon capture and storage, factory farm biogas and offsets schemes as forms of clean energy. They point out that these technologies either do not effectively reduce emissions, or create pollution burdens in environmental justice communities, “perpetuating the deep racial, social and ecological injustices of our current fossil-fueled energy system.”

One leading CES proposal, which is outlined in a bill called the CLEAN Future Act, introduced by New York’s Representative Tonko, includes fracked gas and other dirty energy sources as qualifying in their vision for “clean” energy.  

“Clean energy simply cannot include dirty power sources like fracked gas — any attempt to include these backwards energy sources in nationwide efforts to move toward a cleaner future must be rejected wholeheartedly,” said Food & Water Watch New York Senior Organizer Eric Weltman. “New Yorkers are united in their calls on Congressional leaders like Representatives Tonko and Jeffries to stand for a true clean energy future and stand up to oil and gas lobbyists whose only interest is in profiting off the climate crisis they perpetuate. Clean energy must be clean.”

“Fracked gas, ecologically destructive hydro, and waste incineration have no place as part of our response to the climate crisis, especially with true renewables like wind and solar on the rise,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “As New York looks to meet its ambitious renewable energy targets, we need strong federal standards that can separate right from wrong, and that will help correct the deep environmental injustices of the fossil-fuel era.”

“It’s mind-boggling that representatives like Hakeem Jeffries aren’t backing stronger policies than the Clean Energy Standard when their constituents live in communities extremely threatened by climate-fueled heat waves and flooding,” said Patrick Houston of New York Communities for Change. “They have every moral and practical reason to support bolder plans like the Renewable Energy Standard, but continue to lack the political will to do so.”

“At our current rate of global GHG emissions we have seven years left to use up our ‘budget’ before the climate reaches the point of no return. In no way can we afford any new fossil fuel infrastructure. Instead, Congressman Tonko has proposed a ‘Clean Electricity Standard’ (CES) that secures the fossil fuel industry’s grip on our energy production for years to come. The atrocity of more fossil fuel build-out must stop now,” said Sandy Steubing, Facilitator, People of Albany United for Safe Energy (PAUSE).

The letter calls for a truly renewable energy standard that reaches the goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, with an emphasis on distributed energy resources and storage. Such a plan should emphasize clean, renewable energy sources and exclude polluting practices and unproven technologies like waste incineration, carbon capture and factory farm biogas.