To the editor:
In 2019, Governor Cuomo New York set up a working group to chart new energy policies. It delayed in producing a report, blaming COVID. Now, it has produced a report which supports a very substantial reduction in fossil fuel use by New Yorkers by 2030 and the elimination of this energy source by 2050. The report focuses on methane as the most destructive element released by the burning of natural gas.
As I write this, I received an accounting from my own energy provider, one I chose because it touted its commitment to renewable energy. Yet the bill confesses that only 6% of my energy is so derived. So what are we going to do?
This is a collective issue, not one any person can tackle or solve. In other parts of the country and the world, the impact of climate change seems more immediate and ravaging. Pacific Islands are submerged. California is buffeted by drought and forest fires which affect our food prices, but not our access to water. Now, during the past few weeks, California is drowning in tumultuous flooding. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, home to both casinos and much oil refining, almost annual tropical storms and hurricanes cause profound and lasting destruction to homes, schools, businesses and hospitals. In other words, climate change is here and now, not some abstraction.
So, again what are we going to do? A lot of things. Many may seem small but, cumulatively, if generalized, they will matter. We are going to conserve energy by turning off lights and appliances which are not in use. We are going to learn to live with thermostats reading 65-66 instead of 69 to 70. We are going to drive vehicles which are much more energy efficient. We are going to reduce our use of paper and the need to produce it. We are going to grow more food locally, eliminating the tremendous transaction costs involved in shipping food when it can be grown and harvested locally.
We are also going to spend billions subsidizing conversion to industrial processes that are more energy efficient, eliminate coal production, whether Joe Manchin likes it or not, and retrain workers so they can earn more money in safer jobs which help convert ours to a green economy.
Kathy Hochul is our Governor. Democrats retain super-majorities in both houses of our state legislature. These leaders need to move from rhetoric to action, implementing an aggressive set of plans which allow attainment of the state’s new climate goals. We need to generalize these approaches and tailor them to every state and every nation. This will be easier if we, as New Yorkers, lead the way, as we often have.
In Chester, we now face several proposals to increase warehousing capacity. As fiduciaries of the public good, our elected and appointed officials should determine whether these proposals will have a net positive or negative impact on climate change. If the latter, we should reject them, relying on the new constitutional amendment our state passed guaranteeing every inhabitant of our state the right to clean air and water. Climate change threatens this and anything which adversely contributes to it should be rejected, not facilitated. Any municipality which lags behind should be sued under the new constitutional amendment...
All that we do contributes in one or another way to our survival. I was not brought up with this thinking, but intentionality is the new way of understanding our responsibility to each other – we must each make more decisions with the collective well-being of our species in mind. This is a challenge which should be joined by all, regardless of political party or persuasion. It is, today, nothing more than common sense.
Michael Sussman, Esq.