NYC Activists Stage Die-In at City Hall, Demanding Passage of Gas-Free NYC Bill

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, 75 activists staged a die-in outside New York City Hall in memoriam of the lives lost in Hurricane Ida, and to demand the City Council pass the Gas-Free NYC Bill, Int 2317. Activists, Ida-impacted New Yorkers and elected officials spoke at the somber rally, urging Speaker Johnson to give the bill a hearing and pass the critical legislation.

The extraction and burning of fossil fuels such as fracked gas supercharges storms like Ida, making natural disasters more deadly and more frequent. Speakers warned that Hurricane Ida, which killed fourteen people in New York City and caused extensive property damage, is a sign of what is to come should the City Council fail to enact bold policies like the Gas-Free NYC Bill. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“Lives are being lost, and fossil fuels are to blame. Speaker Johnson and the New York City Council must pass the Gas-Free NYC Bill to move New York off the fossil fuels that supercharge storms like Ida. Speaker Johnson must take bold action by committing to voting on Intro 2317 without any further delay.”

Buildings currently produce more than 70% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions, making construction a critical opportunity for pollution reduction. The Gas-Free NYC Bill would immediately ban all fracked gas in new construction and gut renovations within New York City, helping the city make big strides towards lowering climate change-driving emissions. The bill would also create new jobs in clean energy and improve local air quality, saving lives.

“My family lost everything in Sandy, and we were hurt again in Ida. How many climate disasters are enough to make the point? Speaker Johnson and the Council should end gas in new construction and gut renovations now,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change.

“Despite the desperate calls for action from frontline communities, scientists, and my generation, the fossil fuel industry and other entrenched interests dig in their heels against climate action. We’re calling on Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council to get a hearing on the calendar for Intro 2317, the Gas-Free NYC bill, without delay. The climate-change fueled tragedies we saw during Hurricane Ida cannot become the new status quo,” said Sadiya Hoque, Brooklyn College student and NYPIRG Board of Directors Chairperson.

“Politicians keep talking about the need to take bold action on the climate crisis, a theme we’ve heard often – even before Climate Week. Meanwhile, communities of color continue to suffer from the disparate impacts of climate change,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Here’s an opportunity to take some bold action to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions. The City Council must step up and pass Intro 2317. Delays are no longer an option. How many more people need to die? How many more storms and heat waves will it take? How much more damage must be inflicted before Councilmembers muster the courage to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions?” 

Photos of the event are available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Broad Coalition of National & NY Groups Demand Sen. Schumer End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, a broad coalition of dozens of national and New York organizations released a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Schumer to reject billions of dollars in federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry in the reconciliation bill being negotiated by Congressional leaders this week. The Congressional Democrats’ Build Back Better Act is a historic opportunity to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, including:

  • A subsidy enacted in 1916 (Sections 263(c) and 291) allowing many fossil fuel producers to deduct 100 percent of many costs associated with extraction;
  • A subsidy enacted in 1926 (Sections 611 through 613A and 291) that allows many producers to deduct 15 percent of gross income annually, which often results in a deduction greater than the value of actual assets;
  • A tax credit for “carbon capture and sequestration” (Section 45Q), an unrealized, faulty technological process that is falsely characterized by the industry as a solution to toxic climate emissions.

Just last week, the House failed to meet the moment, advancing fossil fuel subsidies within the reconciliation package, and even adding new ones like those for false solutions like carbon capture. As the Act moves into the Senate, groups across New York expect Senator Schumer to champion the issue and ensure no fossil fuel subsidies are left in the bill that passes the Senate.

Senator Schumer has called for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies in the Act, and environmental, youth and justice organizations across the state, representing a wide swath of the Senator’s constituents expect him to deliver on his promise. With New York still reeling from deadly Hurricane Ida, a crisis supercharged by fossil fuel-driven climate change, the imperative to move off of fossil fuels is clearer than ever.

“For decades, our federal government has used public money to prop up polluters,” said Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp. “And New Yorkers like those who lost their lives or loved ones in Ida pay the consequences. Senator Schumer must stand up to this powerful industry and cut off their taxpayer lifeline — New Yorkers will be watching to see if he matches his words with action, and backs up his rhetoric with leadership.”

“Since the House dropped the ball on repealing domestic fossil fuel subsidies, Senator Schumer’s climate leadership is more important than ever,” said Britten Evans, Senior Regional Organizer with Friends of the Earth. “It’s bad enough that Big Oil poisons our planet; they shouldn’t get $15,000,000,000 in taxpayer dollars per year to do it.”

“Including fossil fuel subsidies in the infrastructure package spits in the face of the working class choking to death on toxic smog and dying in climate disasters like Hurricane Ida,” said Stylianos Karolidis, Organizer with the New York City Democratic Socialists of America. “We urge Senator Schumer to accept the science and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from the infrastructure package. If he fails to do so he will continue this country’s coal, oil, and gas fueled march to global apocalypse.”

“New Yorkers know the extreme dangers of the climate crisis first-hand, with the recent deaths from Hurricane Ida serving as yet another tragic reminder,” said Pete Sikora, Climate and Inequality Campaigns Director with New York Communities for Change. “Now, we need Senator Schumer to stand strong and eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel companies poisoning our communities for corporate profit.”

“Democrats need to deliver on their promises to voters, and Senator Schumer should take action to fulfill Democrats’ promises on the climate crisis, inducing ending fossil fuel subsidies,” said Paco Fabián, Director of Communications and Campaigns at Our Revolution. “Failing to deliver on ending fossil fuel subsidies will have consequences at the ballot box during the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.” 

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

County Commission Unlawfully Allows Dirty Factory Farm Gas Facility to Proceed in Delaware

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Food & Water Watch and Sussex Health and Environmental Network issued a letter to the Sussex County Council and Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission, notifying them as to the unlawful actions of the Commission last week in allowing a clearly lapsed conditional use permit to remain in effect for CleanBay Renewables’ factory farm biogas facility in Georgetown. Citing photo and video evidence that demonstrate the company’s failure to construct at the site before the August 1, 2021 deadline established in Sussex County Code, the groups are requesting the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission reconsider their unlawful approval of the company’s lapsed permit.

Factory farm biogas facilities are a growing trend in agribusiness companies’ taking advantage of clean energy mandates, while not actually reducing emissions or agricultural pollution. Until the CleanBay permit legally lapsed in August, the project was one of two poultry factory farm biogas digesters in motion in Delaware, along with the nearby Bioenergy DevCo project, moving forward near Seaford. Given the significant risks to public health, safety and the environment posed by these industrial facilities, it is imperative that Sussex County officials scrutinize these proposals seriously, not give corporate developers the “benefit of the doubt.”

Given the unlawful decision, Food & Water Watch and Sussex Health and Environmental Network request that the the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission reconsider its determination, and inform CleanBay that their conditional use permit “is null and void as of August 1, 2021, and that therefore no construction or use of the site under that non-existent conditional use approval is permitted.”

Food & Water Watch Staff Attorney Emily Miller issued the following statement:

“Factory farm gas entrenches the dirtiest factory farming practices and keeps fossil fuel infrastructure on the grid. By creating a monetary incentive for factory farm waste production, projects like CleanBay’s that seek to produce gas for the regional energy grid, are a nightmare in the making. Sussex County has issued an unlawful determination that CleanBay’s clearly lapsed zoning approval was still in effect, paving the way for the polluting facility to endanger local residents’ health, safety and the environment, while handing the corporation a blank check. The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission must notify CleanBay Renewables of their lapsed permit, putting an end to this destructive project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Over 9,000 Comments Filed in Opposition to NY Danskammer Fracked Gas Plant Expansion

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation public comment period for the Danskammer fracked gas power plant expansion ended. New Yorkers filed more than 9,000 comments in opposition to the project, which would take the Danskammer “peaker” plant from operating less than one percent of the time, to operating nearly all the time, emitting dangerous fossil fuel pollution into surrounding communities and contributing greenhouse gasses to the worsening climate crisis.

In addition to the thousands of comments submitted in opposition to the fossil fuel power plant, 175 New Yorkers testified at public hearings last month against the project — only 19 speakers at the hearings spoke in support. Advocates pledged to turn out further opposition at the next hearings on the project, scheduled for September 28th and 29th with the New York Public Service Commission.

Food & Water Watch Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel issued the following statement:

“For more than a year, New Yorkers have made our staunch opposition to Danskammer’s fracked gas power plant clear. A bigger Danskammer facility will bring more polluting fossil fuels into the Hudson Valley at the very time that we need to quickly ramp down our reliance on these destructive energy sources. It’s time for Governor Hochul to put an end to this scheme, and direct her DEC to deny Danskammer its permits. In the meantime, we’ll keep making our voices heard.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

In Wake of Hurricane Ida, Activists Urge Speaker Johnson and Council to Pass Gas-Free NYC Bill

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, the New York City Council held a hearing on Hurricane Ida, the deadliest storm to hit New York City since Hurricane Sandy. As council members discussed the serious storm impacts, activists urged passage of the Gas Free NYC bill, Int 2317. The legislation, which currently has 23 co-sponsors, would end gas use in new construction and gut renovations in New York City.

Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Eric Weltman issued the following statement:

“Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis, and they’re super-charging disasters like Ida that took the lives of thirteen New Yorkers. Speaker Johnson and the New York City Council have the moral imperative to take bold action to combat the climate crisis. That starts with the Council’s passage of the Gas Free NYC bill. To make progress on climate, we need to stop burning fossil fuels — New York can and must lead the way.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

More than 6,000 Comments Filed in Opposition to Astoria NRG Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation public comment period for the Astoria NRG fracked gas power plant ended. Over two and a half months, 6,000 comments were filed in opposition to the project, which would bring more fossil fuels onto the grid and intensify the pollution in Astoria, a neighborhood which already bears the moniker, “asthma alley.”

In addition to the thousands of comments submitted in opposition to the fossil fuel power plant, 156 New Yorkers testified at public hearings last month against the project — only 12 speakers at the hearings spoke in support. With the close of the public comment period yesterday, Gov. Hochul and her Department of Environmental Conservation now have 45 days to decide whether or not to approve the project.

The No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition issued the following statement:

“The people of New York have spoken — there is no need and no desire to bring more dirty, polluting fossil fuel projects into Astoria. As Hurricane Ida made crystal clear, the impacts of climate change are upon us now. It’s time to get serious about climate change, and that means that New York simply cannot bring any more fossil fuels onto the grid. Governor Hochul must listen to New Yorkers and stop the Astoria NRG fracked gas power plant.”

The No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition is made up of Food & Water Watch, NY DSA, Sane Energy Project, Queens Climate Project, NYPIRG, Sierra Club, New York Communities for Change and 350Brooklyn.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, Food & Water Watch, [email protected]

Tampa Climate and Youth Activists Rally at Rep. Castor’s Office to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Tampa, FL — Today, climate and youth activists representing Food & Water Watch, Sunrise Movement, Tampa Bay Climate Alliance, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Florida Student Power Network and Central Florida Jobs with Justice rallied at US Representative Castor’s Tampa office, urging her to end fossil fuel subsidies.

American taxpayers currently spend $15 billion each year subsidizing the dangerous fossil fuel industry, and the latest bipartisan infrastructure bill includes approximately $25 billion of new subsidies for the dirty industry. Representative Castor has called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies since taking office in 2007, including most recently in a conversation with Brooke Errett of Food & Water Watch. With weeks left before the House vote on the reconciliation package, advocates rallied to demand Rep. Castor shows up to end fossil fuel subsidies now. 

“The time for climate symbolism is over — now is our time to act,” said Brooke Errett, Food & Water Watch Florida Senior Organizer. “Our actions today to keep fossil fuels in the ground and cut off taxpayer-funded subsidies, ending the fossil fuel industry’s lifeline, will pay dividends for generations to come. Representative Castor has repeatedly called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and it’s time she used her position of influence to show up for the end of these destructive subsidies. We need to end fossil fuel subsidies now, and expect Rep. Castor to lead on making it happen.”

As Chair of the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, Rep. Castor has a crucial role to play in showing up to end fossil fuel subsidies. Activists delivered a sign on letter from twenty-six Tampa Bay organizations urging her to do just that. In tandem with the rally, activists invited Rep. Castor to champion the issue by ‘cutting up the check’ to end subsidies to fossil fuels by the House of Representatives’ projected September 27th vote.

“Ending fossil fuel subsidies means a livable planet for my generation,” said Mary-Elizabeth Estrada, Florida Student Power Network. “This industry has spent billions of dollars lobbying for subsidies to actively destroy our planet, when they could have been investing in clean renewable energy for our future. The time is now to cut the check to fossil fuel companies.”

Images of the event are available here, and a livestream is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Climate Activists Rally Outside President Biden’s Queens Visit

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Queens, NY — This afternoon, President Biden visited areas of Queens ravaged by Hurricane Ida’s flash flooding and heavy rainfall. President Biden’s trip comes as climate groups are pushing his administration for more aggressive action to stop fossil fuel projects and to live up to his campaign pledge to end leasing federal land for fossil fuel extraction – a pledge he has failed to fulfill. Activists representing Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change and other environmental groups, held up signs and chanted loudly, picketing the President’s appearance in the storm ravaged neighborhood.

As Queens and the broader region struggle to recover from yet another extreme weather event supercharged by climate change, which is caused by emissions from fossil fuels, New Yorkers rallied outside President Biden’s appearance in Queens to send a strong message that he must reject, not continue to approve, fossil fuel projects. 

In response, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Fossil fuels are destroying our climate with direct impacts in our own backyard. It’s time President Biden doubled down on his campaign commitments to end our reliance on fossil fuels by stopping the leasing of public lands for fossil fuel extraction and halting the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

In New York, Governor Hochul must do her part to end the fossil fuel projects like the NRG Astoria plant moving forward mere blocks from Biden’s visit today, to ensure New York doesn’t bring any more disastrous fossil fuel projects onto the grid. The fossil fuel age is over — our leaders must commit real action to moving us into an era of clean energy.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Company behind mysterious VA pipeline argues state agency does not have jurisdiction

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA — On Friday, the company behind the mysterious Chickahominy Pipeline proposed for central Virginia filed for SCC declaratory judgement, requesting the state confirm that the agency responsible for vetting fossil fuel infrastructure construction does not have jurisdiction over the project. The company, Chickahominy Pipeline LLC, has also requested an expedited decision from SCC on the matter, hoping for an answer as to SCC’s jurisdiction by November 1st. If the declaratory judgement is approved, the Chickahominy Pipeline would move forward without any public or governmental oversight from SCC.

In response, Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer Jolene Mafnas issued the following statement:

“Chickahominy Pipeline’s filing is notable for all the information it fails to include. The proposed pipeline plans to service Chickahominy Power Station which has faced public outrage because if built, the fracked gas plant would pollute environmental justice communities. From the multiple counties this pipeline would run through to the vast number of private landowners’ property that would be needed to build the pipeline infrastructure, this project is a nightmare in the making. Not only should this project receive full governmental and public oversight, but it must be denied if we are to make any progress towards achieving emissions reductions in Virginia. Governor Northam and state agencies must stop this project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

FL Representative Castor Commits to Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Tampa, FL — Yesterday, while participating in Rep. Crist’s Protect Our Care bus tour, Representative Castor made a verbal commitment to Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett that she would end federal fossil fuel subsidies in the infrastructure package currently moving through Congress. Currently, the federal government provides about $15 billion in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry each year — the latest bipartisan infrastructure bill includes approximately $25 billion of new subsidies for the dirty industry.

“We are cutting them,” said Representative Castor of fossil fuel subsidies. “As the Chair of the Climate Crisis Committee, I am working right now to make sure that we cut the fossil fuel subsidies out of the federal budget and instead invest in renewables.”

Representative Castor has called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies since taking office in 2007, and advocates are clear in the urgent need to follow through on that commitment in this pivotal moment for climate action. Her commitment comes on the heels of the Tampa City Council’s own clean energy resolution, which called on Rep. Castor to act on climate where the city could not. Chief among the City’s calls to action was a demand to stop fossil fuel subsidies in the federal infrastructure package. Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett said,

“We are emboldened by Representative Castor’s commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies, and will rally support here in Tampa to ensure that commitment makes its way into the final infrastructure package passed out of Congress. Every dollar of taxpayer money must go toward clean, renewable energy — not towards the destructive industry destroying our planet. The time to end fossil fuel subsidies is right now, and we expect Rep. Castor to lead as a Congressional champion on this issue.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]