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This week, Governor Hochul showed what climate leadership looks like, dealing a blow to the fossil fuel industry by blocking proposed fracking gas power plants in Queens and the Hudson Valley. This is an important step towards eliminating fossil fuels in New York City – and it is a crucial step. Now it’s Chuck Schumer’s turn to take action by ensuring that the Build Back Better Act contains bold policies to prevent climate change.
Schumer’s leadership is desperately needed. Sadly, Congress is missing yet another deadline to finalize this vital legislation even as President Biden prepares to represent the United States at an international climate meeting in Scotland. Much like Schumer did this summer, side by side with activists from Queens to protest fossil fuels in Astoria, the senator must now champion policies at the federal level to move the nation away from fossil fuels.
Most urgently, as the Senate majority leader, Schumer must stop taxpayer donations to the fossil fuel companies that are literally fueling the climate crisis. Senator Schumer said he wanted to eliminate these subsidies. It is time for him to back up those words with action, to demonstrate the power of his convictions, and to stand up to the mighty industry, as Governor Hochul has done.
For decades, U.S. taxpayers have funded the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, providing a financial lifeline to this destructive industry. Thanks to federal loopholes that have been around for years, many oil and gas companies can deduct the majority of the costs associated with drilling new wells, meaning they pay next to nothing for fossil fuel extraction. These grants, in the form of tax breaks and research and development funding, total approximately $ 15 billion per year.
The good news is that the Build Back Better Act, currently under negotiation in Congress, could chart a new path to clean energy for our nation, creating policies and programs that will move us to renewable energy. If poorly managed, it also has the potential to lock us into decades of hindsight on the existential climate threat. So far, it doesn’t look promising. House management has failed to respond at this time (https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/2021/09/13/house-ways-means-committee-advances-egregious-fossil-fuel-subsidies/ ), advancing the law without removing loopholes and tax breaks that funnel billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry.
To make matters worse, the House bill contains billions of dollars in new subsidies for industry-backed scams like capturing carbon, hydrogen, and biogas from factory farms. These costly bogus solutions would maintain our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, fueling climate change and its deadly effects, including storms and heat waves that could cost our friends, family and our families much more. neighbors.
New York City is highly vulnerable to hazardous weather events and health risks like extreme heat, which put elderly and low-income residents at risk. This summer alone, we faced heat waves after heat waves, resulting in power outages threatening the health and safety of our community. And Hurricane Ida isn’t the first deadly storm to hit our borough – October 29 is the ninth anniversary of Super Storm Sandy, which killed more than forty people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
And we therefore expect our Senator Schumer to take the necessary steps to end this evil and prevent another tragedy. Here’s the gist: The lives of New Yorkers are on the line – our lives are on the line. The survival of our homes, neighborhoods and communities is in danger. We need Senator Schumer to be a hero, our hero, our champion – and to respect his words in providing the leadership needed to move the nation away from fossil fuels and prevent climate catastrophe.
Eric Weltman is a Brooklyn-based senior organizer with Food & Water Watch