180 Organizations Call on New York State to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies - Press Release
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Groups from across the state urge responsible fiscal and climate policy in Albany
Albany, New York (October 13th, 2020): In the wake of the growing climate crisis, New Yorkers led by the New York Youth Climate Leaders are calling on the state government to enact bill A.257-C into law, which would inventory and sunset fossil fuel related tax expenditures in New York State.
In a press conference organized by the New York Youth Climate Leaders, 180 student, faith, labor, political, business and environmental groups from across the state issued a letter addressed to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Governmental Operations Committee Chairman Kenneth Zebrowski to pass and sign A.257-C into law following the passage of its Senate counterpart, S.2629-C, in late July. The conference was moderated by Hridesh Singh, Executive Director of the New York Youth Climate Leaders. Speakers included:
Liam Smith, Co-Director of Government Affairs for the New York Youth Climate Leaders
Ruth Foster of the Divest NY Coalition
Elizabeth Moran, Environmental Policy Director for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
Conor Bambrick, Director of Climate Policy at Environmental Advocates NY
New York State Senator Liz Krueger, lead sponsor of S.2629-C (the Senate counterpart to A.257-C).
To view the recording of the press conference, click here.
Climate change poses a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of every New Yorker, with frontline communities in particular being disproportionately affected. With the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019, New York created one of the strongest frameworks in the nation to deal with the existential threat of climate change and achieve a just transition away from fossil fuels. Despite this, New York State continues to subsidize the very industries that fuel the climate crisis, including spending over $1.5 billion every year in fossil fuel related tax expenditures.
New York is also facing a projected budget shortfall of more than $14 billion in the current fiscal year. At a time where millions of New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, while budget cuts continue to put immense pressure on nearly every aspect of society, it’s financially illogical and morally irresponsible for the state to continue subsidizing the multi-trillion dollar fossil fuel industry that has contributed the most to climate change.
Decades of pollution from the use of fossil fuels has led to the endangerment of New York residents during the current pandemic, with chronic exposure to dirty air being a serious aggravator of COVID-19. Instead of subsidizing the same polluting industry that has worsened the health of so many New Yorkers, the state should protect its citizens by investing in a clean energy economy that works for all.
Liam Smith, Co-Director of Government Affairs for the New York Youth Climate Leaders said “As the climate crisis intensifies, my generation and future generations will be subject to drought, famine, increasingly severe storms and wildfires, worse air quality, increased prevalence of insect borne diseases, coastal flooding, climate refugee crises, potential wars over dwindling resources, and much much more. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issues facing our generation, fracturing our economy, leaving tens of millions unemployed, and opening gaping holes in our state budget. Now more than ever, we need to be careful about where we allocate our resources. We simply cannot afford to spend taxpayer dollars on an industry that is strip mining our future,”
"In the past few years, New York State has taken unprecedented action to mitigate the effects of climate change, but there are still areas where we are on the wrong track,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “We spend $1.6 billion every year on tax subsidies that support the use of dirty fossil fuels, with barely any information about the effects of this spending. We need a process in place to regularly analyze and review these subsidies, so that we can better target those that actually benefit hard-working New Yorkers, and get rid of those that waste taxpayer dollars and make our climate crisis worse."
“Senator Liz Krueger and I proposed this legislation so we can better understand how New York's own tax expenditures are propping up the fossil fuel industry,” said Assemblymember Kevin Cahill. “At a time when families are struggling to hold on to their homes, with record unemployment and a virtually flat tax system, something has to give. Even before we talk about new revenue sources, let's identify where our existing tax dollars are being used to create tax dodges for polluters. Congratulations to Senator Krueger for successfully shepherding this important legislation through her house. I am optimistic that we will do the same in the Assembly and send it to Governor Cuomo for his consideration. With support from organizations like the New York Youth Climate Leaders, the Governor will understand why he has to sign it into law.”
Ruth Foster of the Divest NY Coalition said “As California burns, the Gulf Coast is underwater, and September was the hottest on record, New York continues to fund the fossil fuel industry—the cause of this destruction. All this despite New York’s landmark new climate law that requires a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in just 10 years. New York must stop using tax dollars to fund the fossil fuel industry and fully commit to the transformation of our energy economy to one based on clean, renewable energy.”
“New York’s climate law set the most aggressive emissions reduction goals of any state,” said Conor Bambrick, Director of Climate Policy at Environmental Advocates NY. “Reaching these goals requires a transition off fossil fuels across the board. Understanding how we currently subsidize the use of fossil fuels through tax expenditures is an important step in assessing how the State can cut ties with the very industries responsible for the climate crisis.”
Elizabeth Moran, Environmental Policy Director for NYPIRG, said "As New York seeks to meet ambitious climate goals and fund a just transition off of fossil fuels, ending fossil fuel subsidies is a common sense solution. The fossil fuel industry spent decades deceiving the public about their role in causing climate change. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worsening climate crisis, there is no question that New York must make polluters pay for the environmental harms they've caused. We urge the legislature and the Governor to come together to end fossil fuel subsidies in New York."
"Citizen Action strongly supports the bill before both houses of the Legislature to require the Governor to report on all tax expenditures aimed at the fossil fuel industry and to end them within five years," said Bob Cohen, Policy Director of Citizen Action of New York. "At a time when New York State is trying to meet the mandates of its ambitious 2019 climate law and trying to close a huge budget gap due to COVID-19, it is simply unconscionable to continue to waste our tax dollars to subsidize the production and distribution of fossil fuels."
Mark Dunlea, Chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund, said “To save life on our planet for future generations, we need to end emissions from fossil fuels as soon as possible, hopefully within the next decade. It makes absolutely no sense for our state government to continue to subsidize the use of fossil fuels to the tune of over $1.5 billion a year, especially in light of the state revenue crisis from COVID-19.”
The New York Youth Climate Leaders is a policy-driven coalition of youth organizations from across New York State, which coordinates and empowers youth to advocate for comprehensive, equitable, and effective climate solutions. We strive to improve New Yorkers’ quality of life, protect frontline communities, and ensure environmental and economic justice for generations to come.