Groups from across the state urge responsible fiscal and climate policy in Albany
Albany, New York (December 29th, 2020): In the wake of a deep budget shortfall and the growing climate crisis, New Yorkers are calling upon the state government to eliminate non-essential fossil fuel subsidies from the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
In a press conference organized by the New York Youth Climate Leaders, Natural Resources Defense Council, and New York Public Interest Research Group, over 150 student, faith, labor, political, business and environmental groups from across the state issued a letter and petition addressed to legislative leadership and Governor Andrew Cuomo to eliminate unnecessary fossil fuel subsidies from the 2021-2022 state budget. The conference was moderated by Hridesh Singh, Executive Director of the New York Youth Climate Leaders. Speakers included:
Marco Volpitta, Co-Director of Government Affairs for the New York Youth Climate Leaders
Jordan Dale of Divest NY and 350NJ-Rockland
Jana Bergere of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
Marisa Guerrero of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Merton Simpson, Albany County Legislator and Co-Chair of the Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE)
New York State Senator Liz Krueger, lead sponsor of bill S.2629-C that would eliminate fossil fuel subsidies in the state
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 $1.6 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. In light of this, the letter from advocates states that “Everyday New Yorkers, who are already suffering so greatly, cannot afford to bear the brunt of our fiscal shortfall. Instead of cutting essential public services, New York must make polluters pay by cutting subsidies to the oil and gas industry.”
Marco Volpitta, Co-Director of Government Affairs for the New York Youth Climate Leaders, said “As we move into an economy without fossil fuels, it's high time that New York State stop giving tax breaks to companies with no place in the future of energy. At a time when New York faces a multibillion dollar budget shortfall, investing in our communities and safeguarding the future of our state should be prioritized over subsidizing an industry that no longer helps our state thrive.”
"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. Some of these subsidies are needed to help hard-working New Yorkers, but many are just sops to an outdated industry, wasting taxpayer dollars and making our climate crisis worse. In the face of a significant revenue shortfall, now is the perfect time to get rid of these counterproductive subsidies.”
“The New York State budget is under severe stress and the future of humanity is threatened by climate change,” said Jordan Dale of 350NJ-Rockland and Divest NY. “Eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels helps with both. It is a no-brainer, and we must demand that our leaders in Albany act on it immediately.”
Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director for NYPIRG, said “The fossil fuel industry spent billions of dollars over the course of decades lying about their role in causing the climate crisis - now they must be made to pay up. The worsening climate crisis and current fiscal downfall cannot be placed upon the shoulders of everyday New Yorkers. The solution is simple - New York must continue it’s legacy holding polluters accountable by ending nonessential fossil fuel subsidies in the 2021 State budget.”
“The climate crisis is not just a threat to our future – it’s upending lives all across this country right now,” said Richard Schrader, New York Political Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s high time for New York State to double down on its climate leadership and cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. To build a healthier, cleaner and brighter future, New York must send clear market signals that fossil fuels have had their day.”
Merton Simpson, Albany County Legislator and Co-Chair of the Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy, said "I live in Sheridan Hollow, a neighborhood that has been polluted for over a century by the burning of coal, oil and now gas in order to heat and power New York's Capitol. New York continues to subsidize fossil fuels despite the facts that they cause global warming and disporpointially impact communities of color. Let's subsidise renewable energy for New York's Capital, not climate destroying fossil fuels."
“Doling out mindless subsidies to fossil fuel corporations while we build out clean energy infrastructure in New York State is like eating raw kale in one hand while eating fried pork fat in the other,” said Guy Jacob, Conservation Co-Chair of the South Shore Audubon Society. “One counteracts the benefit of the other even as we waste precious resources and sink deeper into debt. It’s time, New York, to come to terms with our careless cognitive dissonance.”
Bob Rossi, Executive Director of the New York Sustainable Business Council, said “By subsidizing an industry, we can undermine free market trends toward competing options. By specifically subsidizing the oil and gas industry, we are fueling climate change and dissuading New Yorkers from renewable alternatives. We should instead do the exact opposite if we wish to achieve our own climate goals.”
The New York Youth Climate Leaders is a policy-driven organization led by youth 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.