Following Senate's passage of measure in March, Assembly advances bill ensuring all NYers benefit from State's clean energy transition; Bill now moves to Ways and Means Comm. vote; JETA prioritizes health and future of communities who've long suffered consequences of pollution, climate change while targeting investments in transmission necessary to bring renewable energy to denser populated areas

ALBANY, NY (05/21/2024) (readMedia)-- The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), NY Renews and other environmental justice organizations rallied with lawmakers at the Capitol to demand the Assembly pass the Just Energy Transition Act, or JETA (S2935-C) / (A4866-C), before the end of session. JETA would require the state to conduct a comprehensive review of how to phase out New York State's oldest and most environmentally destructive fossil fuels-generating facilities by 2030 while prioritizing an equitable energy transition for all New Yorkers.

Watch a recording of the event here.

View images from the event here.

Before the rally, the Assembly Energy Committee voted to advance JETA out of committee, meaning passage of the bill is closer than ever. JETA passed the Senate in March, but the bill had previously remained stalled in the Assembly despite overwhelming support from lawmakers within the chamber. Now that the Assembly Energy Committee has moved JETA forward, Assembly leadership must continue to push for a full floor vote to ensure a just energy transition for all New Yorkers.

"JETA is crucial to upholding New York's commitment to a greener future and clean jobs, as required by existing state law. The bill would be transformational for New Yorkers, and it would finally help reduce our heavy reliance on dangerous fossil-fuels generated energy - which is disproportionately killing and harming environmental justice communities. We're grateful to the Senate for recognizing the need to ensure a just, well-reasoned energy transition, and we urge the Assembly to step up and finish the job before the end of session," said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

"The JETA bill is a significant milestone in our fight for environmental justice and equity. Currently lacking in the State of New York, this bill would allow procurement of new clean energy resources that specifically targets the replacement of fossil power plants, while simultaneously ensuring reliability, consumer protections, supports union jobs, and spurs economic development. This legislation has overwhelming support from legislative members, environmental scientists and advocates, human rights advocates, unions and industry. We do not have time to waste, and with this collective support we must and can pass this bill and direct state agencies to develop a study of strategies to facilitate the replacement and redevelopment of New York's fossil fuel facilities and their sites by 2030, in an equitable way," said Assembly sponsor Anna Kelles.

"Passing the Just Energy Transition Act (JETA) would help kickstart the transition of New York's most polluting fossil-fuel power plants into renewable energy hubs, creating jobs and improving air quality in environmental justice communities," said Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani, representing Assembly District 36, including parts of Astoria and Long Island City. "JETA would lead to better health for Queens residents, a more reliable energy grid, and a stronger economy across New York State while retiring some of the most polluting fossil-fueled power plants that poison frontline working class communities of color across our city by turning them into powerful union job hubs."

"The CLCPA is the most aggressive climate law in the country. But it's an environmental bill. It doesn't speak to the actual process that we need to go through as a state to make sure that we are transitioning into a clean energy economy. JETA is the energy plan," said Senate sponsor Kevin Parker during the event. "That clean energy economy also needs to be a just economic economy. Our plans are really important to force the state and energy industry into a space in which they understand the next iterations of producing energy in our state have to be without... the things we've been suffering through in our communities for generations."

"Proactively planning for the energy transition in partnership with organized labor is the best way to ensure workers are not left behind," said Jim Shillitto, Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2. "The passage of JETA would give hope to countless workers who are ready to retrain and operate the green energy technologies of the future. Not passing this bill is not an option."

"JETA will be instrumental in helping the state reach the ambitious goals set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, as well as creating career-track jobs in the clean energy sector," said Vincent Albanese, Director of the New York State Laborers' Political Action Committee. "We are hopeful this vital legislation will be passed before session concludes."

"We have to invest in the communities we know we deserve...and we recognize that the hyper local problems we experience in the South Bronx, are larger systemic issues across our communities. Our children shouldn't be fighting for the same thing our elders fought for so long and hard for and we're here to say we want 2024 to be the year we pass JETA and plan this transition," said Dariella Rodriguez, Director of Community Development, THE POINT CDC.

"Our children lose as many as 30 days out of school. Their education is being affected. But the fact is that it's because of a health [problem] they did not create and nobody pays attention to. But I'm faithful here to say to all of you: let's get on board, let's stay on board. Numbers count," said Mrs. Coger, long term resident and local leader of Astoria Houses.

From Monday, May 20th through Wednesday, May 22nd, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), NY Renews coalition, and other climate and environmental justice organizations will host a series of press conferences and lobby visits to demand Governor Hochul and the Assembly pass critical climate legislation including the Just Energy Transition Act, NY HEAT Act, and Climate Change Superfund Act before the end of session. Lawmakers cannot ignore the climate crisis any longer, and their continued refusal to act is a moral, climate, and environmental justice failure.

JETA would direct the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to undertake a comprehensive study of how to phase-out and eventually replace the state's largest fossil-fuels generating facilities. The bill would help New York State to meet a key tenet of the existing Climate Law of 2019, which mandates that the state reach 70% renewable energy generation by the year 2030 and a zero-emissions electricity sector by the year 2040. Under JETA, up to 30 of the dirtiest fossil-fuels generating facilities across New York State could be closed, protecting ratepayers and reducing future energy costs.

The bill would also prioritize the health and future of New York State's most vulnerable families, especially individuals from lower-income and predominantly Black and brown communities who have disproportionately been impacted by dirty, fossil fuels infrastructure. Residents from the Ravenswood, Astoria and Queensbridge Houses, a public housing complex adjacent to the Ravenswood Generating facility, attended the event to demand lawmakers prioritize the bill and help lessen the impact of pollution infrastructure in their community.

JETA would specifically help prioritize key investments in renewable energy to ensure more equitable distribution of clean power across New York, enabling transmission of energy from areas with more renewable production to densely populated areas across the state.

About the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance:

Founded in 1991, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) is a non-profit, 501(c)3 citywide membership network linking grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in their struggle for environmental justice. NYC-EJA empowers its member organizations to advocate for improved environmental conditions and against inequitable environmental burdens by the coordination of campaigns designed to inform City and State policies. Through our efforts, member organizations coalesce around specific common issues that threaten the ability for low-income communities of color to thrive. NYC-EJA is led by the community-based organizations that it serves. NYC-EJA was founded with two clear, yet profound charges: to identify the systemic reasons why communities of color were environmentally and economically overburdened, and to develop strategies to dismantle those inequitable systems.