FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2022
Aaron Eisenberg, (914)980-9117
Last night, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joined Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright for an environmental community forum in Gordon Heights, NY. One attendee, a public school teacher from Centereach, spoke out in support of the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA). The teacher went on to ask Speaker Heastie to support the bill and to call a special session to pass the BPRA.
The BPRA is a tender spot for the Speaker. At the end of session, despite the bill passing the NY State Senate and having 83 confirmed yes votes in his chamber, Speaker Heastie refused to bring the bill to a vote. Last night, we learned that he never even read the bill, let alone understood it.
Speaker Heastie’s response to the teacher was jarring. Acknowledging that he’s taken “a lot of criticism about this bill,” he then went on to display a stunning lack of familiarity with the Build Public Renewables Act. He claimed his first and biggest issue with the Build Public Renewables Act is that it is an eminent domain bill. We are shocked by this admission of not understanding the most impactful, most supported, and largest piece of climate legislation in New York. To the Speaker’s concerns: nowhere in the Build Public Renewables Act is a single word about eminent domain.
He then went on to talk about how the bill would have New York use eminent domain to take over Con Edison, National Grid, and other distribution utilities. Again, the Build Public Renewables Act does none of this.
Later, he stated his other biggest concern: costs. In fact, the Build Public Renewables Act is revenue neutral: projects will be funded entirely by NYPA bonds. NYPA’s cost of capital is lower than private developers, meaning they can build more renewable projects at a lower cost to New Yorkers. Additionally, the BPRA would reduce energy bills for all low and moderate income households across the state. Furthermore, the costs of climate inaction in New York alone are in the billions and rising with the temperatures.
While trying to give himself cover for his failed climate leadership, last night, Assembly Speaker showcased why he has taken “a lot of criticism.” It is because he has not engaged with the substance of the bill at all. As the teacher noted, the Build Public Renewables Act guarantees that NY meets the mandates of CLCPA–New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. As none of his concerns have merit, we implore the Speaker to make up for his climate failure and confusion about the bill by attending the Special Hearing on July 28th and calling a Special Session to pass the Build Public Renewables Act on August 3rd.
We know that the Speaker would not treat a leading education, housing, or healthcare bill with such blatant disregard to not even know its contents. But this is a concerning trend with the Speaker and climate bills. It is why his website lists climate as the second to last issue, and has no updates since 2019-2020.
Speaker Heastie, first since you started off by talking about wanting to do due diligence, we implore you to read the Build Public Renewables Act. Second, since none of your concerns are based on the actual Build Public Renewables Act, will you now commit to calling a special climate session on August 3rd to pass it after the hearing next week? Anything else is beyond climate obstinance and denial–it is climate arson.
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See our Website: https://publicpowerny.org/