NYLCV/EF Talks IRA in New Rochelle & Environmental Policy at Annual NYC Council Breakfast

| March 24, 2023

By Peter Aronson

The New York League of Conservation Voters held two events recently focusing on the importance of environmental legislation.

The first, a town hall meeting with Congressman Jamaal Bowman at New Rochelle High School in Westchester County, trumpeted the virtues of the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in helping America reduce its carbon emissions.

NYLCV also hosted its annual NYC Council environmental breakfast–the first in person since 2019 because of the pandemic–with 16 members of the City Council and members of the Green Group, nonprofits that have banded together to fight climate change. On the other side of these events, NYLCV’s advocacy work continued with a push for park funding in New York City and on Long Island celebrating another step forward for New York’s offshore wind sector. 

The Town Hall Meeting, which was part celebration and part education, began with Congressman Bowman and NYLCV/EF Vice President of Programs Nia Rhodes-Jackson meeting with audience members over food and refreshments.  

Once everyone was seated, NYLCV/EF President Julie Tighe set the tone for the evening. “The Inflation Reduction Act is far and away the biggest investment Congress has ever made to take on the climate crisis,” said Tighe. “This legislation includes a range of policies to reduce greenhouse gasemissions and transition our economy to clean energy, not just for businesses but also for individuals, including incentives for electric vehicles and clean energy upgrades for our homes.”

Matt Salton, NYLCV’s federal campaigns manager, delivered a presentation about the myriad tax credits and rebates in the IRA for individuals to lower their energy cost. The League has been active in talking about the IRA, with Salton also appearing at a webinar in October with Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey and other League of Conservation Voters’ policy experts to discuss the specifics. It’s a complex law that combines various tax increases and vast funding ($369 billion) to fight climate change.  

A key aspect of the IRA is that it contains provisions to lower energy costs and increase production and use of clean energy, all to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. It provides across-the-board tax incentives and/or tax credits to incentivize car owners and the overall transportation sector; homeowners, businesses and construction companies; and the agriculture community to transition to clean energy use. It provides billions in funding for conservation programs, coastal restoration, national parks, wildfire prevention and forestry management, among many other projects designed to reduce carbon emissions and/or protect communities from the impact of global warming.

The morning after the Town Hall Meeting, NYLCV/EF was in New York City hosting the annual City Council breakfast, where Councilmember Keith Powers delivered the keynote address.

Tighe discussed the City Council’s environmental accomplishments in 2022, including the Greenway Master Plan, the passage of two park bills and the Skip the Stuff Law, to reduce the amount of single-use plastic provided by the food service industry.

But, she emphasized, “much more needs to be done.”

This includes:

  • increasing spending for city parks and natural areas to 1 percent of the city’s budget;
  • reinforcing and, if necessary, rebuilding the city’s infrastructure so it is better prepared for the increasingly extreme weather;
  • making the citywide composting program mandatory by passing Intro 244;
  • increasing funding for NYCHA to address existing health and climate issues that impact NYCHA residents; 
  • reducing vehicle emissions in NYC by cutting single-occupancy traffic through improved public transportation and expanded micro-mobility programs in transit deserts; 
  • making environmental justice a top priority, including having all council members sign the Green Pact, which sets forth a path for achieving environmental justice and equity in New York City; and
  • passing the “City of Yes/Carbon Neutrality” zoning amendment for the NYC Department of City Planning. The effort is focused on modernizing NYC’s zoning regulations to help the city achieve its goal of zero-net carbon emissions by 2050. 

These measures have been front and center for NYLCV since the breakfast, as they will continue to be in the weeks and months ahead. 

On March 22, for example, Tighe and Alia Soomro, NYLCV’s NYC Deputy Director of Policy, joined partners in the Play Fair for Parks coalition outside City Hall to advocate for park funding. The rally was held in advance of the City Council’s preliminary budget hearing on parks and recreation, which Soomro testified at later that day.  

And the City of Yes/Carbon Neutrality effort, which is being led by the NYC Department of Planning (DCP), is also beginning to ramp up with public information sessions already underway. DCP Chair and Director Dan Garodnick was one of several city leaders in attendance at the City Council breakfast. 

“Great to connect with@ebottcher, @KeithPowersNYC @CMShaunAbreu, @CMSandraUng @Lynn4NYC & @galeabrewer at the @nylcv policy breakfast this morning,” Garodnick wrote onTwitter. “So happy @NYCMayor’s City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality proposal is an important part of the [NYLCV] 2023 agenda.”

The first “City of Yes” information was held on March 20 and a second is scheduled for March 28. These are virtual events easily accessed through your phone or computer. For more info about the sessions click here. For a link to the March 28 event, click here

Outside of New York City there was important offshore wind developments. Tighe was on LI for the announcement of the Host Community Agreement between the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County & Sunrise Wind. 

“It is time to move beyond making plans and setting goals and start taking climate action. Offshorewind means more than just fighting climate change and cutting pollution, it means opportunities, and that’s why we are so excited about the Host Community Agreement as it will bring millions in investments and hundreds of family sustaining union jobs to Long Island,” said Tighe. “Congratulations to Supervisor Romaine and County Executive Bellone for continuing to embrace offshore wind. This agreement puts New York one step closer to realizing its bold clean energy goals and we thank Governor Hochul for her vision and for making New York a national leader in offshore wind.”

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