New Yorkers demand the Assembly call a special session to pass Build Public Renewables as written
For Immediate Release, 7/27/22
NEW YORK, NY — Hundreds of NYC-DSA members, legislators, and activists rallied at Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office at 250 Broadway on Wednesday, July 27, to demand that Heastie call a special session of the State Assembly to bring the New York Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA) to a vote. As assembly members prepared to hold a hearing on the bill on July 28, advocates told Heastie that New York can’t wait another year for climate leadership.
New York State is at just 4% wind and solar and still relies on methane gas as its largest source of energy. The 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandates that the state reach 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% net-zero emissions by 2040. BPRA would enable the New York Power Authority (NYPA) — the largest state-owned public utility in the country — to build and sell low-cost clean energy, ensuring that New York meets CLCPA targets.
In the absence of federal leadership and the gutting of the EPA’s powers by the Supreme Court, state climate and energy policy has taken center stage. BPRA’s passage would help ensure clean, reliable, and affordable power. It would create up to 51,000 green union jobs, make the energy system more democratic and resilient, and generate up to $93.5 billion in additional economic activity — all without raising taxes.
BPRA had passed through the full Senate and secured 83 yes votes in the Assembly — more than the 76 needed to pass — before the legislative session closed. However, the Speaker refused to bring it to the full Assembly floor for a vote. In a swirl of public pressure from NYC-DSA’s campaign, Heastie called for a rare special hearing on the bill. Activists are calling for a session on August 3 to finally bring the bill to a vote, rather than let another year go by without climate action.
“Last Thursday, 522 of my constituents woke up to no electricity. On Saturday, a New Yorker died of heat exposure. And on Monday, we marked seven consecutive days of 90+ degree weather. The climate crisis does not abide by the annual legislative calendar, and neither can we. We must convene a special session in the Assembly, pass the Build Public Renewables Act, and finally provide New Yorkers with energy that is reliable, renewable, and at a reasonable cost,” said Assemblymember Zohran Kwame Mamdani, who represents the 36th Assembly District.
“In communities of color across our state, the effects of climate change are causing ever more injustice. But we have a chance to pass legislation for a better future. The Build Public Renewables Act will create up to 51,000 new jobs and enough renewable energy to power at least 75% of New York — while placing working class people over corporate profits,” said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, who represents New York’s 57th Assembly District.
“It’s either build or burn. Will we lead the nation by becoming the capital of renewable public energy or will we continue to deny the very danger that puts our working-class communities in harm’s way? BPRA would enable the New York Power Authority to lead the mass renewable buildout we need to provide all people with clean, affordable, and reliable energy while bringing our grid under public ownership,” said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes, who represents New York’s 51st Assembly District.
“This heat wave has reminded us that the climate crisis is here. We cannot continue to leave our response to climate change in the hands of private, profit-seeking energy corporations. We are urging Speaker Heastie to bring the Build Public Renewables Act to a vote and the Assembly to pass this bill so New Yorkers can benefit from a clean energy future, including the tens of thousands of green, union jobs the BPRA would create,” said Senator Julia Salazar, who represents New York’s 18th Senate District.
“It’s past time we stopped listening to polluters and profiteers and do what’s right for people and the climate. My constituents have been suffering from heat waves, rate hikes on their energy bills, and air pollution because our energy system is dominated by fossil fuel interests. We have the power to change that, and we have no time to waste. Speaker Heastie must convene a special legislative session so the Assembly can pass the Build Public Renewables Act now,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, who represents New York’s 50th Assembly District.
“We must ensure that our path to getting off fossil fuels is not dependent on developers making a profit. . It’s time to build an energy system that serves New Yorkers, not shareholders, and BPRA is the path forward. That’s why my district came out in support of our campaign, and that’s why we’re going to make sure Albany responds to the climate crisis like the emergency that it is,” said Sarahana Shrestha, the Democratic candidate for New York’s Assembly in District 103 in Mid-Hudson Valley.
“New York State is facing a climate crisis, an energy crisis, and a political crisis. This recent heatwave is just the latest in a string of extreme weather events harming our health and threatening our infrastructure. New Yorkers deserve clean, affordable, reliable energy — not blackout threats and skyrocketing bills just for trying to stay cool. That’s why I’m fighting to represent my neighbors and help make sure the Build Public Renewables Act is only our first step to a just transition,” said Kristen Gonzalez, who is running to represent District 59.
“People died in this latest heatwave, and extreme weather will unfortunately keep happening. We’re in a climate crisis and our leadership is not doing anything. We’ve passed no climate bills to implement the CLCPA. This is unacceptable. We have no pathway to meeting our state law without the BPRA. Carl Heastie must call a special climate session on August 3rd to pass the Build Public Renewables Act, as written, right now,” said Aaron Eisenberg, NYC-DSA and Public Power NY organizer.
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.