Heastie and Assembly must call a special session and pass BPRA
For Immediate Release, 7/28/2022
NEW YORK, NY – In response to months of advocacy from NYC-DSA and our allies, the New York State Assembly finally held a special hearing on the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA) — and proved once and for all that the Assembly must hold a special session to pass the bill next week, August 3rd. As today’s hearing demonstrated, BPRA is critical legislation that would empower the New York Power Authority to develop publicly-owned clean energy resources and build a green, livable, and more prosperous State. After 3 years of no meaningful climate policy in Albany and inadequate federal efforts, New York desperately needs BPRA to become a climate leader, meet our decarbonization goals, and strengthen our energy infrastructure as climate change intensifies.
“Today’s hearing showed why the Build Public Renewables Act is the pathway we need to meet our climate targets and build a livable future for all New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Zohran Kwame Mamdani, who represents the 36th Assembly District. “We heard from experts who emphasized just how dire our climate crisis is, how precarious our path is to the required 70% renewable energy by 2030, and how this bill can help rectify both issues all while setting nation-leading labor standards. It’s time to build an energy system for people, not for profit.”
Working-class New Yorkers are facing a triple crisis. As we suffer through the latest heatwave, we’re facing a climate future that threatens our way of life on this planet while our system is still addicted to fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the climate crisis is fueling our energy crisis, threatening blackouts and driving up bills for working-class New Yorkers just trying to survive. And in the face of these threats, we’re stuck in a political crisis — with insufficient leadership from the federal government, Albany is too busy lining their pockets with fossil fuel money to meet the moment.
“When the Assembly failed to put the Build Public Renewables Act for a vote, we failed our children and our next generations of New Yorkers. Today’s special hearing demonstrated exactly why it’s time to call a special session to pass BPRA,” said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, who represents New York’s 57th Assembly District. “When we Build Public Renewables, we’ll make our communities healthier, more resilient, and more secure — all while creating good union jobs and lowering bills for the New Yorkers suffering most from the heat, power cuts, and the harms of fossil fuels.”
“During this latest heatwave, my constituents struggled to stay cool in the face of soaring electricity bills and the threat of power cuts. We need to Build Public Renewables to make sure our communities have clean, affordable, and reliable power,” said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes, who represents New York’s 51st Assembly District. “Albany has spent too long ignoring the climate crisis and its impacts on working class New Yorkers. Today’s hearing shows why we need a special session to pass BPRA.”
By letting private developers control our energy system, we’re facing higher bills, a less reliable grid, and virtually no pathway to a net-zero future. New York is stuck at just 4% wind and solar and still relies on methane gas as its largest source of energy, even though the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires that we reach 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2040. Today’s hearing, filled with illogical and baseless claims from the private energy lobby, sent a clear signal that private developers care more about their profits than meeting New York’s energy needs.
“For years, New Yorkers have been waiting for new action to get us on the path to a green, livable future and deliver low-cost, renewable energy for all,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, who represents New York’s 50th Assembly District. “We know we can’t count on the federal government alone — it’s up to New York to accelerate the energy transition we need by putting people over profit. The Build Public Renewables Act is a critical step to building a clean energy future that works for all New Yorkers.”
BPRA is a critical step to correcting this course, by putting the public back in control of our public resources. By empowering the New York Power Authority to produce and distribute clean energy, we can develop a clean energy system for the people — not private profit. BPRA would help guarantee we build an energy system that meets our climate targets and protects our planet, all while shoring up our energy infrastructure, lowering costs, and creating tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs and a just transition for fossil fuel workers. This is a chance to strengthen our economy, build energy democracy, to rapidly decarbonize public properties, and invest in diverse zero-emissions energy resources without even raising taxes.
“The climate crisis is already upon us, and working class New Yorkers are experiencing its harmful effects the most. We cannot allow another year to pass without taking meaningful action to bring relief to our communities as we face rising heat waves, blackouts, and energy bills,” said Senator Julia Salazar, who represents New York’s 18th Senate District. “The Build Public Renewables Act is the legislation we need to strengthen our energy system, lower utility bills, and truly mitigate the effects of climate change. I was proud to help pass BPRA in the Senate, and it’s time for the Assembly to reconvene and do the same.”
Despite already passing the State Senate and having more than enough votes to pass in the Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie failed to even introduce the BPRA in the last Assembly session — handing another victory to the fossil fuel industry and private utilities as working class New Yorkers face rate hikes and a dangerous climate future. But because of the power our campaign built, Heastie was forced to call for today’s historic hearing on the bill. Now, the Assembly must commit to holding a special voting session on BPRA next week to ensure New Yorkers don’t go another year without the climate action we need to build a livable and energy-rich future.
“New Yorkers across the state are suffering under an energy system that puts profit over people, and a political establishment that puts fossil fuel donations over a livable future,” said Sarahana Shrestha, who is running for New York’s Assembly in District 103 in Mid-Hudson Valley. “Our campaign was a testament to our demand for a just energy transition. We know we can make our energy system cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable while creating tens of thousands of good union jobs and preventing the worst impacts of climate change. It’s time for the Assembly to pass the Build Public Renewables Act and start building the future we need.”
“When Speaker Heastie failed to introduce the Build Public Renewables Act in the Assembly, he condemned New Yorkers to another year of worsening climate change, power cuts, higher energy bills, and air pollution. But it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Kristen Gonzalez, who is running to represent District 59. “Today’s hearing shows that we can build a stronger, more resilient energy system while lowering bills, creating good union jobs, and ending the climate crisis. That starts with passing BPRA, and I’m running to make sure this is only the first step in a truly just transition. ”
“Albany politicians want to pretend they are climate leaders and that the worst of the climate crisis is still years away, but New Yorkers know it’s already here. Years of intensifying hurricanes, heat waves, and flooding are changing the landscape of our state— all while Albany politicians have dwindled away three consecutive sessions without substantive climate action, this is a fundamental failure” said Aaron Eisenberg, NYC-DSA and Public Power NY organizer. “New York remains at 4% wind and solar, with no pathway to meet our renewable mandates. The private market has failed. It’s time to put the people back in charge of our energy system. When we build public power, we can ensure that we will meet our climate mandates, grow our economy, create good union jobs, lower energy bills and make our power grid stronger. The Assembly must call a special session to pass Build Public Renewables.”
As a key member of the Public Power NY coalition, NYC-DSA has championed BPRA by organizing across the State to mount public pressure on Albany. The bill has been a central issue for the Green New York slate of climate activists that DSA is working to get elected this year, and was key to Sarahana Shrestha’s victory in her Assembly primary. This is why we need her leadership alongside David Alexis and Kristen Gonzalez in New York’s fight against climate change. With fossil fuel companies, corporate utilities, and Wall Street hedge funds fueling the climate crisis and controlling our energy system, DSA is fighting to elect leaders who will put working class New Yorkers over lobbyists and build a clean, democratic energy system. It took the threat of climate champions running to take away their jobs for the Democratic leadership to finally move the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), and it will take their election to get the job done.
Contact: Lawrence Wang
About NYC-DSA: New York City Democratic Socialists is the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America—the largest socialist organization in the United States with over 85,000 members. NYC-DSA is run by its 5,000+ members and activists who are working together to build a democratic socialist organization in the five boroughs.