More than 1,500 New Yorkers converged on the state capitol with a message for Governor Andrew Cuomo: talking a good game on clean energy doesn’t prevent climate catastrophe.
Led by a broad coalition, including Sane Energy Project, NY Renews, and Food & Water Watch, activists from across the state made their way to Albany on a bright Monday morning just after Earth Day for a massive show of force entitled Cuomo: Walk the Talk on Climate.
Thanks to extraordinary contributions from allies like WE-ACT, New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York, and PUSH Buffalo, turnout far exceeded expectations.
The demands laid out in the action were straight-forward: Governor Cuomo must stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, commit to a 100% renewable energy plan, and make polluters pay for the damage they have done to communities across the state.
To hear that a climate march would target Andrew Cuomo might come as a surprise to some people. The governor likes to think of himself as a climate hero, especially in contrast to Donald Trump. But the point we drove home was that patting yourself on the back for being better than Trump doesn’t cut it. The governor who banned fracking is giving a green light to massive fracked gas pipelines and power plants, and he has hardly moved the needle on renewable energy.
The day started in Sheridan Hollow, a low-income, community of color where the Cuomo administration has proposed building a fracked-gas plant to power the state capitol complex. Neighborhood activists have waged an inspiring campaign to stop this plan before it starts. Groups across the state, including Food & Water Watch, have been proud allies in this vital fight for environmental justice.
From there, led by youth activists with PUSH Buffalo, we marched and chanted our way to West Capitol Park for a rally, then entered the capitol. We heard from leaders in the fights against the CPV power plant, the Spectra AIM pipeline, and other front-line battles. Then, a contingent of rally participants, including three staff and seven activists from Food & Water Watch, engaged in civil disobedience – holding space right outside the governor’s office on the second floor of the capitol. The capitol police arrested 55 demonstrators.
There’s no doubt that Cuomo is feeling the pressure building from the state’s vibrant climate movement. On the eve of the Walk the Talk action, Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation announced that it would deny a permit for the proposed Williams gas pipeline in New York Harbor. And right after the action came word that Cuomo had announced his support for a statewide ban on most single-use plastic bags.
All of this news is encouraging. If there’s one thing for Cuomo to take away from the Albany mobilization, it is this: We’re here, we’re growing, and we’re not going to settle for empty promises. It’s time for Cuomo to walk the talk.