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Activists Rally For New York To Lead U.S. In Climate Jobs

J.D. Allen, WSHU Public Radio
Climate activists confront U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) about supporting federal investments in clean energy jobs.

Climate activists in New York rallied outside of local state and federal lawmakers offices on Wednesday to urge the approval of a multi-billion dollar investment in clean energy jobs in the state and across the U.S.

The rallies are in support of the New York Climate and Community Investment Act. The measure would raise over $10 billion a year over the next decade to invest in large-scale clean energy projects, like offshore wind. The bill would also fund energy rebates, community projects like tenant-owned solar and an overhaul of public transit, housing and schools to rely on clean energies. It would be paid for with pollution penalties on corporations.

The investment could create 150,000 jobs through 2030 with prevailing wage requirements and labor protections.

“New York took bold action two years ago by passing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” said Michael Brady, member of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “And the nation seems ready to follow our lead in transitioning to zero carbon energy in a way that prioritizes disadvantaged and front-line communities that have suffered the most.”

“So it is important to have statewide leadership inform federal action,” said Ryan Madden, the coalition’s sustainability organizer.

Credit J.D. Allen/WSHU Public Radio
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) said President Joe Biden will likely fold in portions of the THRIVE Act — to increase investment in clean energy jobs across the U.S. — in his Earth Day summit with world leaders.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) joined the rally in support of the THRIVE Agenda to create the clean energy jobs that would be needed to meet President Joe Biden’s goal to cut pollution from fossil fuels in half by 2030.

Suozzi said the agenda would put 15 million people to work in good-paying union jobs.

“And there is an effort here on Long Island to actually train those workers right now as we speak,” he said. “The labor unions are actually a couple years ahead of this, laying the groundwork for those jobs and those skills here on Long Island.”

The rallies follow two major announcements from the Biden administration to open more water off Long Island and New Jersey coasts for offshore wind development, and a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to re-enforce clean energy development.

Climate activists said the agenda should also create pathways for a diverse workforce from communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by climate pollution.

“Developers, when doing this, shouldn’t try and go it alone,” Suozzi said. “They should look to the people who are developing the skills so you have the right professions to do this work. They should be hiring people from Long Island to do this work, people who are part of unions. They should be looking for people from all different types of communities so that the workers look like the people who live on Long Island.”

Suozzi said Biden will likely fold the agenda into his Earth Day summit with world leaders.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.