Our nation’s dependency on fossil fuels and unchecked energy consumption continues to have important environmental justice implications, including the siting of power plants and other energy infrastructure. NYC-EJA has collaborated with several partners to ensure that energy planning and economic development in NYC are conducted equitably, and that low-income and communities of color do not continue to bear an overwhelming burden.
NY Renews is an unprecedented statewide coalition of coalition emerging in New York to fight for climate policies grounded in equity and justice for communities and working people. Modeled after the People’s Climate March and co-initiated by NYC-EJA, NY Renews is a cross-sector alliance of community-based organizations, environmental justice groups, labor unions, faith groups, business leaders, and other advocates from across the state working together to demand healthy communities, good jobs, 100% clean renewable energy, environmental justice, and worker protection. NYC-EJA, ALIGN NY, and the Working Families Party co-convened upstate and downstate meetings to develop consensus around a policy platform throughout Fall 2015. NY Renews is calling on Albany to make New York State’s climate commitments legally enforceable and ensure accountability. Over 1,000 people attended the NY Renews launch events in NYC and Buffalo on December 16, 2015. The still-growing coalition now has over 80 organizations committed to addressing the climate crisis. In June 1, 2016, the coalition mobilized people for the NY Renews Action in the State Capitol in Albany to call on the State Legislature to pass the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, which goes further than any proposed state climate legislation in the country. The Act creates a just energy policy by including strong protections for communities on the front lines of climate and environmental crisis, and providing important tools to ensure racial and economic equity in the application of emission reduction policies. For more information or to get involved, go to: http://nyrenews.org/.
Climate Works for All
Climate Works for All unites environmental justice, faith, labor, and economic and social justice groups around a just transition agenda for sustainability in New York City. NYC-EJA developed the ten-point Climate Works for All agenda in collaboration with ALIGN, NYC Central Labor Council, the BlueGreen Alliance, and National AFL-CIO. Enacting these proposals will create good quality jobs and career paths for New Yorkers who are exposed to the greatest hazards of climate change and economic unfairness. In December 2014, the Climate Works for All partners convened a meeting of labor, environmental justice, and community groups to review the platform and build power for the campaign. The coalition has worked to ensure that the City’s revision of the Energy Code and the development of renewable energy projects provide emissions reductions, community benefits, and good quality jobs.
Read the Climate Works for All report and learn more about how NYC can become the national leader on climate jobs, and elevate the grassroots voices of people on the frontlines of the environmental justice movement.
REVitalize is a collaboration between NYC-EJA, PUSH Buffalo, The POINT CDC, and UPROSE, to address the opportunities and challenges associated with community energy planning/ownership efforts. As part of this process, REVitalize seeks to create a replicable planning model where local grassroots organizations carry out baseline research to identify their community’s energy needs, articulate goals and objectives to address them, and identify resources for implementation. The NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) will provide technical assistance to the three community-based organizations in developing their plans. Building on this information, NYC-EJA will facilitate a constant dialogue between project partners and NYS government to articulate policy and programmatic recommendations to the NYS Governor’s Office and NYSERDA to inform future government-community partnerships and support community-based energy planning.
Brooklyn Alliance for Sustainable Energy
Projections show that within the next 10 years, Con Edison will not have the capacity to meet the peak energy needs for all of Brooklyn. Energy usage in Brooklyn is growing, and projections show that within the next 10 years, Con Edison’s Brownsville 2.0 substation will not have the capacity to meet the peak energy needs for communities in Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, East New York, Cypress Hills, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, and Brownsville. Within this impacted zone, 90 percent of residents are people of color; 76 percent residents have a median household income below $30,000, and 68,880 people reside in 66 NYCHA housing developments. Increased load demand could mean losing power when we need it most, especially during heat waves when air conditioners are blasting, and after storm surges that disrupt outdated energy infrastructure.
To meet this energy shortfall, Con Edison and the NY Public Service Commission developed a program called The Brooklyn Queens Demand Management (BQDM), now known as the Neighborhood Program, to reduce demand by 52 Megawatts by reducing the load during times of peak demand; increasing energy efficiency in buildings and appliances; and investing in long-term solutions such as new, low-energy building designs. This new approach may represent a fundamental change in how communities get electricity. However, we need meaningful community involvement address critical questions around public health, local air quality, economic development and energy efficiency.
In response to Con Ed’s program, NYC-EJA and our member the Brooklyn Movement Center formed the Brooklyn Alliance for Sustainable Energy (BASE), a coalition of community-based planning organizations from Brooklyn working for cleaner sources of energy and a more efficient and resilient energy infrastructure. BASE advocates for the following principles: 1) Transparent decision-making and implementation process, 2) Strong provisions to control the environmental justice impacts of projects on vulnerable communities, and 3) A diverse, equitable energy market in compliance.
To learn more about the New Energy Demands in Brooklyn and Con Edison’s plans to address them see NYC-EJA’s fact sheet and Comments to the New York State Public Service Commission regarding the Con Edison Brooklyn ‐ Queens Demand Management program.
Article X: New York State’s Power Plant Siting Law
In 2011, NYC-EJA was invited by Governor Cuomo’s Office and the NYS Assembly to provide advice for the re-authorization of Article X (New York State’s power plant siting law, which expired in 2003). Known as the Power NY Act, NYC-EJA worked with allies NY Lawyers for the Public Interest, NYPIRG, and Environmental Advocates of NY to ensure the new Article X law provided the strongest protections for environmentally overburdened communities of color. Power NY mandated (for the first time) the development of environmental impact analyses that measure a community’s total environmental load before a power plant siting can be approved. More importantly, Power NY mandated that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation promulgate regulations for the State’s first ever “disproportionate burdens” analyses. If a community is found to be disproportionately burdened, power plant applicants will have to commit to local, verifiable offsets of any projected pollution emissions before the power plant can be sited, thereby easing the burden on our most vulnerable communities.
- In 1995, NYC-EJA launched the City’s first green jobs training program, then known as the Minority Workers Training Program. NYC-EJA is a co-founder of the New York City Apollo Alliance and is a partner in their living wage green jobs campaign in NYC; at the State level, NYC-EJA works with the Center for Working Families on NYS green jobs strategies.
- In response to NYC-EJA’s and other allies advocacy efforts, Power NY mandates (for the first time) the development of environmental impact analyses and mitigation that prevents any net increases to an environmental justice community’s total local air pollution levels before a power plant siting can be approved.
Policy Blueprint by Center for American Progress: Green Jobs, Green Homes