BROOKLYN, NY – Climate activists gathered on June 14, 2023 at Brooklyn Borough Hall for a teach-in and art action highlighting successful initiatives implemented this year to combat the climate crisis, reduce consumers’ energy expenses, and expose the obstructive climate hypocrisy of National Grid and ConEdison at both the city and state levels. The Brooklyn event coincided with more than 50 actions across the country, called by the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition, in angry response to Biden’s approval of the liquified natural gas (LNG) and Willow oil projects in Alaska and the debt ceiling deal that fast-tracks the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Keynote speaker Raya Salter, Founder and Director of the Energy Justice Law and Policy Center and member of New York State’s Climate Action Council, shared remarks about successful grassroots efforts to pass climate policy this session, and the gas industry’s attempts to delay and obstruct state-level climate initiatives.
Chalk with messages calling for a just transition and for Biden to take bolder climate action adorned the space surrounding the teach-in. After speakers presented, advocates marched to the National Grid’s downtown Brooklyn office and put the power struggle between everyday people and greedy utility companies on display through a “tug of war” performance.
Advocates plastered stickers with an artistic rendition of citizens fighting gas infrastructure and “People vs. Fossil Fuels” text on National Grid’s doors. Posters, silkscreened canvas, and leaflets with art, calls for action, and information were distributed for participants to take home and spread across their communities.
In 2019 New York State passed the landmark Climate Leadership Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to ensure that 70% of the state’s electricity will be generated by renewable energy by 2030. New York City is a key player in reducing those emissions. However, gas utilities like National Grid and ConEdison have continued to invest in gas infrastructure and fought the transition to renewable energy through a massive disinformation campaign to shape policy and public opinion to continue fossil fuel dependence. Teach-ins such as the one on June 8th are necessary to educate the public and ensure New York sticks to the CLCPA’s emissions reduction targets.
“We must close NY’s dirty power plants and break the hold that fossil fuels have on our buildings and our wallets, as required by our state’s Climate Act. We will fight fossil fuel industry misinformation and hold our utilities accountable for both the environmental injustice they cause and any attempts to delay climate action. We are simply out of time to address this climate crisis and public health emergency.” said Raya Salter (she/they), member of New York State’s Climate Action Council and Founder and Executive Director of the Energy Justice Law & Policy Center.
This action is the next step in escalating the call for President Biden to utilize his executive power and take bold action on climate by declaring a climate emergency. By declaring a national climate emergency, Biden can unlock additional powers to limit oil and gas exports, increase the availability of clean energy technologies, and ensure communities hit hardest by climate disasters receive the resources they need to rebuild. Stopping gas infrastructure expansion in New York State and declaring a climate emergency essential to end the era of fossil fuels, equitably transition to clean energy systems, and bring justice to communities impacted most by fossil fuels.
“A just transition starts with seeing the reality of the impact dirty power plants have on the socioeconomic stability of communities throughout the State of New York. The supply chain that currently powers our energy grid places communities of color and low-income communities at a disadvantage in pursuit of their American dream.” said Paul Presendieu (he/him), Co-founder of the Hudson Valley Energy Justice Alliance.
This action was organized by 350Brooklyn, Sane Energy Project and No North Brooklyn Pipeline and is part of a nation-wide escalation to end fossil fuels from June 8th-11th sponsored by People Vs. Fossil Fuels, 350 Network Council, the Center for Popular Democracy, Zero Hour, Fridays for Future, and Climate Organizing Hub and endorsed by 64 other Indigenous, climate, labor, and environmental justice organizations nationwide.
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