Green Party of New York: Earth Day at 50: Only A Green New Deal Can Rebuild a Post-COVID-19 ‘New’ New York

The Green Party of New York released the following statement today, April 22, Earth Day: 

On the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, the Green Party of New York said that rebuilding a ‘New’ New York from COVID-19 should be done by building a healthier, cleaner, and more equitable ecosystem. Green officers stated that a Green New Deal would begin to address the twin problems of the economic depression caused by the coronavirus crisis and the looming threat of catastrophic climate change.

Party officials said Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature need to act quickly to formulate a long-term plan, but also to address immediate environmental and social justice issues caused by the crisis but related to environmental destruction and neglect. The Green Party faulted the Governor for largely halting work on climate change during the COVID-19 crisis, including stopping the build out of renewable energy while allowing the Cricket Valley fossil fuel plant in Dover to open this week. Studies have shown that individuals exposed to air pollution are harmed more by COVID-19.

“The Green Party of New York was one of the first parties in the world to call for a Green New Deal, back in 2010. On Earth Day 2020, we renew this call in the face of economic collapse in New York that has seen the state pay out $2.2 billion in unemployment claims to 1.1 million New Yorkers since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nearly a million people could be employed by the state, at living wages and with benefits, to rebuild crumbling infrastructure on an environmentally sound basis, help construct the renewables needed to transition from fossil fuels, and establish a more equitable society around eco-socialist principles that people’s lives and well-being are more important than profits,” said party co-chair Peter LaVenia.

“Cuomo needs to act immediately to deem the renewable energy sector essential. The shutdown has ground the renewables industry to a halt at a time when it should be expanding. Not only would this protect a skilled workforce, but it would also allow for drawing unemployed New Yorkers into the Green energy sector. At a time when we are faced with a respiratory pandemic, building out renewable energy capacity and transitioning from dirty fossil fuels is more essential than ever. We could start by immediately divesting the state pension fund from investment in the fossil fuel industry which has cost the state billions,” argued Mark Dunlea, former State Comptroller candidate for the Green Party.

“New York also needs to address the issue of environmental racism immediately and swiftly. Minorities are dying from COVID-19 at nearly twice the rate of whites. Communities of color have long been targeted as sites for dirty industries, waste facilities, and lax enforcement of environmental laws. A Harvard study has shown that a person living decades in an area with high levels of particulate matter has a 15 percent greater risk of dying from COVID-19. “Asthma Alley” in the South Bronx – near waste transfer stations and major highways – has some of the highest rates of pre-existing conditions linked to COVID-19 complications and deaths in New York City,” said state party treasurer Adrienne Craig-Williams.

The Green Party urged state lawmakers to reconvene in Albany to deal with pressing environmental and social justice issues, including banning the burning of toxic firefighting foam. AFFF has been burnt at Norlite in Cohoes, across the street from a public housing project.

“Attorney General Tish James should immediately sue to block EPA’s suspension of environmental rules due to COVID-19. It is unconscionable that the federal government would put Americans at risk during a crisis, but the Trump administration has long shown it is willing to put profits before human lives,” said state party secretary Jim McCabe.

“We cannot build a ‘New’ New York without fundamentally transforming our economy and environment. New York has been hard-hit from the pandemic, and we mourn the losses suffered by our fellow New Yorkers, Americans, and the world. This state should take the lead in creating a just, safe, and clean environment for all. Earth Day 1970 was a clarion call to action – and Earth Day 2020 can begin to fulfill the promises made all those years ago, ” concluded party co-chair Gloria Mattera.

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