15 Arrested in City Hall Blockade in Protest of NYC Mayor’s Attempt to Weaken Local Law 97

Groups accuse Adams of jeopardizing tens of thousands of jobs, massive pollution reductions and lower energy bills at the behest of the real estate lobby

Published Nov 2, 2023

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Climate and Energy

Groups accuse Adams of jeopardizing tens of thousands of jobs, massive pollution reductions and lower energy bills at the behest of the real estate lobby

Groups accuse Adams of jeopardizing tens of thousands of jobs, massive pollution reductions and lower energy bills at the behest of the real estate lobby

NEW YORK – This afternoon, 15 climate activists were arrested while blocking the west entrance to City Hall, demanding Mayor Eric Adams preserve Local Law 97’s ability to create good jobs, lower energy bills, and pollution cuts. The act of civil disobedience and subsequent arrests followed a rally during which New York City residents, elected officials, and climate advocates called on Mayor Adams to strengthen his proposed rules to fully implement and enforce the landmark city-level climate and jobs law, known as New York City’s “Green New Deal” for buildings. At the behest of the real estate lobby, Mayor Adams is proposing two large loopholes in the law’s implementation.

“Exactly a year ago, we sent a letter to the Mayor, DEP, and DOB expressing concerns about rulemaking that would water down Local Law 97. We called for a REC purchasing limit, pollution limit enforcement, and support for NYCHA and working-class owners in the transition process. Since then, New Yorkers have felt more devastating effects of climate change, emphasizing the need for drastic, bold action. We have had an opportunity since 2019 to lead emissions reduction goals, and this is not the moment to slow down,” said Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa.

“Eric Adams should represent working people, not the billionaires of real estate. We need good jobs, less pollution and lower bills, not this attack on our City’s future,” said Norman Frasier, Board member of New York Communities for Change, who was arrested today. “Eric Adams will take New York City backwards if he doesn’t withdraw his proposed giveaway to the landlords. We are the global leader on this issue, but if Adams has his way, we’ll fall back.”

Just last week, hundreds of New Yorkers testified at a public hearing to demand the Mayor strengthen the proposed rules. Known as New York City’s “Green New Deal”, Local Law 97, passed in 2019, remains the world’s most-important city-level climate and jobs law. 

“Enforcing Local Law 97 isn’t merely an option or a legal requirement; it’s our unwavering dedication to a cleaner, more sustainable future for our city. After years of painstaking progress, we cannot sit back and watch this administration weaken our hard-earned gains. Diluting this law in favor of special interests and big real estate isn’t just unfair; it’s inherently unjust and discriminatory,” said Councilmember Jennifer Gutierrez. “By uniting against any attempts to introduce loopholes or delays, we open the door to numerous job opportunities, lower utility bills, and a substantial decrease in life-threatening pollution.”

“New York City should be a world leader on reducing carbon emissions and creating good jobs,” said Councilmember Tiffany Cabán. “What’s more, we have already passed the law that can get us there. It just needs to be implemented energetically and in good faith. This is our opportunity to stand with everyday New Yorkers now and for generations to come, rather than real estate billionaires looking for a free pass to wreck the climate.”

Councilmember Erik Bottcher added, “Climate change is an existential threat to New York City and to all humankind, and we must do everything we can to stop it now. Buildings account for two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and LL97 takes significant steps in limiting the carbon they produce. We cannot afford to delay the implementation of this vital law and I am proud to stand today with activists and colleagues who understand the need to take action now to limit the effects of climate change.”

“Passing Local Law 97 was an immense victory for our city and climate,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Beyond helping our planet, the law will also create over 100,000 jobs in construction, design, and renovation. But for the law to really impact emissions, for the progress we’ve won to truly be realized, it must be fully implemented, fully enforced, and fully funded.”

Passed in 2019, Local Law 97 requires buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to begin limiting carbon emissions by January 2024, driving toward net zero emissions by 2050. New city data released this summer found that 89% of the city’s buildings are on track to meet the law’s 2024 requirements. The law is also on track to create tens of thousands of jobs, and is projected to lower energy bills.

Advocates are criticizing Mayor Adams’ proposed rules for two key issues that jeopardize its intent: a two year delay and an unlimited corporate “buyout” loophole that trades renewable energy credits for actual emissions reductions. If adopted and unchanged, these rules reflect the demands of a well-financed real estate industry campaign seeking to gut the law. 

“Local Law 97 must be implemented to its full effect, students across NYC will be left to face the future impacts of climate change. Adams inability to fully stop carbon emissions from real estate directly places students in danger. Many of us already suffer the health consequences of air pollution, having shortness of breath, choking up with the air, needing inhalers, getting asthma. Both college and high school students across NYC want a better,more sustainable, cleaner, and healthier NYC for all our communities. We don’t want any more setbacks, we don’t want real-estate lobbyists to keep getting away with damaging and contaminating our communities, we demand zero carbon emissions.” said Ariadna Silva, Lead Hunter College Organizer at TREEage.

“Facing down worsening climate chaos is no time for political favors to real estate magnates like Douglas Durst — dirty money plus dirty politics equals dirty air. Mayor Adams’ dangerous proposal to weaken Local Law 97, our landmark climate and jobs law, puts all of our futures at risk,” said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman. “Mayor Adams must side with his constituents, not his corporate real estate donors, and fully enforce and implement Local Law 97 by strengthening his proposed rules immediately. No delays for Durst!”

Douglas Durst is a billionaire who owns multiple large properties covered by the law, including One Bryant Park, which is a very high polluting building over the law’s 2024-2029 pollution limit. Durst is the Chairman of REBNY and is highly active in opposition to Local Law 97. Durst has Frank Carone, the Mayor’s former Chief of Staff and close political associate, working for his interests. The real estate industry is Eric Adams’ top source of campaign donations.

Recording available here.

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Press Contact: Phoebe Galt [email protected]

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