West Virginia v the EPA

What Does West Virginia v EPA mean?

Congresspeople and as a whole, the Congress, are not experts on environment and environmental issues. They pass laws that give general directions and boundaries while instructing agencies to engage experts to implement the laws by drafting regulations. The majority of the Supreme Court says this methodology is no longer valid. They ruled the legislation must spell out the regulations in full in the legislation and the EPA only has the authority to oversee the regulations written in the laws. The EPA can no longer promulgate regulations. The Supreme Court demands are impossible, which means the entire fossil fuel industry is now essentially deregulated.

Power of Our Voice Confirmed

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has called for a “Special Session” of the Assembly to consider the “Build Public Renewables Act” that he failed to bring to the floor for a vote at the end of the session last week. The NYS Senate has already passed the bill.

Calling a special session is rare and unusual. Politico offers that the special session to consider the bill was called because the intense public pressure.

That pressure is US, my friend. Whoo-hoo!

The session will convene on July 28th.

Public Testimony before Climate Action Council

I am Rabbi Glenn Jacob, executive director of New York Interfaith Power & Light, an advocacy group organizing people of faith across the state to fight for climate change legislation. On behalf of 3000 members and 130 congregations across the state, we bring two messages to the Climate Action Council.

We as voters and citizens do not tolerate hypocrisy by those who are elected, are employed by, or volunteer on behalf of the state. Six false solutions have been proposed in the scoping plan that in no manner will address climate change and reduce our carbon footprint in the short number of years we have. Biofuels, “renewable” natural gas, biomass, waste incineration, “green” hydrogen and carbon capture technologies either do not exist or they are still destructive to our environment and communities. Those proposing these solutions are misleading New Yorkers for their own narrow benefit.

Most important, the people of faith across the state want to know if the members of the Climate Action Council are going to act with moral courage or succumb to moral cowardice. The only possible solution is reducing the carbon footprint as thoroughly as possible and as soon as possible. Adherence to the CLCPA mandate is the only viable choice, funding its mandate as written, fully. Any other solution is an abdication of your moral obligations to the state, its citizens and to be honest, your families. Are you going to acquiesce to greed and power, or are you going to fight to save the creation?

Let me remind you: We are the first generation to address climate change and we are the last one that can. Thank you.

This is What Democracy Looks LIke

A gathering of volunteer marshals before the rally in Albany on Tuesday. Official estimates put the participation at 450-500 people, the largest climate protest in Albany for our NYRenews coalition. Rabbi Jacob led the parade to the governor’s mansion during the rally.

Where We Are Going

NYSERDA, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has released its strategic plan for the next three years. We fought to pass the legislation in 2019 that governs where this plan seeks to go. As we continue to fight to fund the 2019 mandate (the CLCPA), this document maps out how the state energy bureaucracy sees the state moving forward.

Environmental Crimes/Environmental Justice

The crime that environmental justice addresses is a challenge to wholly grasp. Carelessly discarding toxic waste that will kill and maim people is a true but misleading definition. Sometimes the perpetrators are not careless or arbitrary. Sometimes the polluters pretend that consequences do not exist, even to the point of creating media campaigns to bolster their claims. Remember clean coal? When the people of the Biblical era began to identify and address the need for justice, they had an inkling of the human potential to kill myriads, but no context of how far some humans are willing to go.

The term “environmental justice” is complex as well, easy to understand from a surface reading yet complicated once one delves into the subject. The fact to know is the highest carbon producing and toxic generating facilities and factories are deliberately located in black and brown communities. Indigenous communities are not far behind. Factories close and the owners take no responsibility for the lethal consequences they leave behind because they took no responsibility while the factories ran.

Environmental justice is endemic, having been with us since the origins of the industrial revolution. Cleaning up one’s industrial messes were never mandated, or the mandates were rendered toothless. The common false claims such as “paying for it will cost jobs” or “we’ll go bankrupt, and no one will have a job” or “we gave them a community (jobs); they should take some responsibility” highlight how deeply buried in the fabric of the economy and the culture the supposed “right to pollute” runs.

The environmental cost of doing business is hardly ever, if ever, factored into corporate business plans. The cost of carbon and environmental pollutions is not included as a debit line in accounting spreadsheets.* A tech company can claim they are “carbon neutral,” but not only did they build that way to save money, they ignored the other environmental degradations they precipitated. The city, the county, the state, or sometimes even the federal government are left with the poisonous consequences. Corporations takes their profits and leave the taxpayers with the environmental costs, which run into the billions, if not the trillions now.

We must convert to a clean renewable energy economy, which will run into trillions of dollars. Where are the additional trillions of dollars to clean up the toxic waste we have now going to come from? From where will the additional money come from to pay for the asthma, the cancers, and the other circulatory and respiratory illnesses caused by these known toxins already present in neighborhoods in every state?  

You want to do justice? Then, get angry. Start asking questions. Challenge zoning boards. Demand municipal and county leaders address environmental consequences. Teach your friends and your neighbors. Force the issue into the local news. Preach it.

You want to do justice, which makes you a descendent of the prophets. Taking up the yoke of the commandments is not an easy task, but in every generation, believers have harkened to the call.

Available Programs 2022

Sustainability

  • Training for Green Teams
  • Sermons
  • Workshops (post Covid19)
  • Webinars*
  • Board/ House Committee Training
  • Sustainability Manual
  • Sustainability Training: setting priorities and implementation
  • Network connections local and regional
  • Private Consultations

Advocacy

  • Legislative updates
  • Lobby Training as a person of faith
  • Networking with local/regional climate groups
  • Lobby opportunities, state and national

*Available Webinars

  • Citizens Respond to Climate Change – A Civics Lesson
  • Climate Legislation and Faith
  • Environmental Injustice and Racism
  • Faith Advocacy Training
  • Theology of Speaking to Power
  • Build Back Better – Was, Is, Might Be