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'Huge Victory' for Grassroots Climate Campaigners as NY Lawmakers Reach Deal on Sweeping Climate Legislation

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'Huge Victory' for Grassroots Climate Campaigners as NY Lawmakers Reach Deal on Sweeping Climate Legislation
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.


The legislature reached an agreement just before midnight Sunday on the Climate and Communities Protection Act (CCPA), one of several climate bills state lawmakers have pushed in recent months since progressives gained momentum in their push for a federal Green New Deal.

New York's CCPA — like those passed in recent months in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada and Washington — offers a path forward for the implementation of Green New Deal-like laws at the state level, proponents say.

"This is going to be a huge victory for the environmental justice movement in New York," author Naomi Klein tweeted, adding that some far-reaching parts of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal grew out of state legislation.

New York's CCPA calls for zero fossil fuel emissions from utilities by 2040. By 2050, 85 percent of all energy in the state will be from renewable sources under the legislation, with the remaining 15 percent being off-set or captured.

"By and large, this is a very big victory," Arielle Swernoff of New York Renews, a coalition that pushed to pass the bill, told the Huffington Post. The group counts more than 100 groups in its membership, including national groups like 350.org and Friends of the Earth as well as local organizations like Saratoga Unites and Syracuse United Neighbors.

The bill emphasizes the climate crisis's impact on low-income and marginalized communities, mandating that 35 percent of energy funding be directed to such towns and cities.

"By passing the CCPA with all its equity provisions intact, New York State can both address the climate crisis and build a more equitable economy," Assemblywoman Latrice Walker wrote at City Limits.

"Help is on the way," tweeted state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who sponsored the legislation. "While D.C. sleeps through a crisis, New York steps up."

Members of New York Renews gathered on Monday in Albany, where lawmakers are expected to pass the legislation on Wednesday.

"We believe that we will win!" the group chanted.

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, gave credit to grassroots organizers for pressuring their state representatives to reach a deal on and pass the CCPA.

"Thank you to the frontlines for bringing this into Albany," Iwanowicz told the group gathered in the state capital. "Insiders couldn't do this by ourselves."

Beyond the benefits the CCPA has in store for New Yorkers, one climate campaigner wrote on social media, the expected passage of the bill after pressure from the NY Renews coalition bodes well for a potential federal Green New Deal in the future.

"What a massive win for the climate justice movement and the frontline communities that have fought so hard for this!" wrote Daniel Aldana Cohen, a professor at University of Pennsylvania. "If flipping a bunch of New York State senate seats and building fighting coalitions could achieve all this in a couple years — just imagine what millions of organized people in the streets and a federal Green New Deal could do."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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