By Tom O’Keefe
New York State has witnessed two major climate victories in recent weeks. First, on May 15th, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the Williams Company’s proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline which would have carried fracked gas under New York Harbor off the coast of the Rockaways to Long Island. Second, on June 19th, news broke that the Climate and Community Protection Action (CCPA)—an ambitious slate of climate-equity laws—had passed in Albany. Even in its watered-down final form, the CCPA represents a monumental step towards climate sanity, and if fully realized, will put New York at the global forefront of climate action.
Coupled with bold legislation from the New York City Council—mandating, among other things, stringent new energy-efficiency requirements for buildings —these victories provide real reason for celebration, and even more, stand as invitations to us all to deepen our commitment to confronting and combating the climate crisis. Although the Federal situation remains rather grim, and there are deeply concerning events unfolding around the world—in Australia, Brazil, and Canada, among other places—as well as across the United States, there is reason to hope that what is taking shape today in New York will, in short order, transform the nation.
Already, we see glimmers, in the inspiring vision of the Green New Deal and the bold youth activism of the Sunrise Movement, and while climate denial continues to grip the Republican Party, and corporate Democrats have been slow to embrace the true urgency of the climate crisis, young House newcomers—led by New York’s own Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez— and seasoned progressive political veterans alike are laying the foundations for a new climate consensus.
Just, sane, equitable climate action will be better for our health, better for our economies, and better for the planet than the violent and outdated fossil capitalism now being propped up by lies and cronyism. Next year, we have to break the stranglehold of the Right on Washington; thereafter, we have to make the 2020s the most transformative decade in human history. We have the technology; we have the vision; and I believe we have the political will as well.
In short, the time for pessimism and despair has passed. The call today is to get informed, get engaged, and embrace the epochal challenge of building a just, sane, and livable future on planet Earth.
Interested in taking climate action? Check out the Sane Energy Project and New York Renews.
More of Tom O’Keefe’s climate writing can be found at tomokeefe.us, where he focuses on issues related to New York City infrastructure.