NY HEAT Act is heating up!

From left to right: Policy Intern Ella McGrail and Environmental Justice Specialist Alex Rodriguez holding a sign at the NY Legislative Office Building urging Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to support the NY HEAT Act.

On Wednesday, March 13, our environmental justice specialist Alex Rodriguez and policy intern Ella McGrail attended a rally and lobby day in Albany to raise support for S2016/A4592B, the New York HEAT (Home Energy Affordable Transition) Act alongside over 100 fellow climate advocates.

The NY HEAT Act will save New Yorkers money on their energy bills while ensuring that state regulation and oversight of gas utilities provides for the equitable achievement of the emission reduction requirements previously set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This bill provides the Public Service Commission with the authority and direction to align gas utility regulation and gas system planning with the CLCPA’s mandate while ensuring affordable access to heating, cooling, and other necessities.

Earlier in the session, advocates were hopeful about momentum for the contents of the bill as Governor Kathy Hochul had included elements of the NY HEAT Act in her proposed budget. Prior to the lobby day, the Senate included the full contents of the Act in their one-house budget, whereas the Assembly did not include the Act in their proposal.

Climate advocates gathered at the Million Dollar Staircase at the New York State Capitol for a rally in support of the NY HEAT Act. Photo credit: WE ACT 4 Environmental Justice.

The rally was attended by supporting organizations of the Renewable Heat Now campaign including Food & Water Watch New York, WE ACT 4 Environmental Justice, NYPIRG, NY Communities for Change, and more! Participants cheered on fellow advocates in their speeches, and we also heard from legislative champions including primary bill sponsors Senator Liz Kreuger and Assemblymember Pat Fahy and many others.

Before breaking off into lobby groups, rally speakers noted the importance of speaking with assemblymembers and their offices to encourage them to put pressure on Governor Hochul and Speaker Carl Heastie to include the full NY HEAT Act in the final budget.

Enviromental Justice Specialist Alex Rodriguez and his lobby team posed for a picture with Assemblymember John Zaccaro Jr.’s chief of staff (maroon tie) after a positive meeting on the NY HEAT Act.

Ella spoke with members of her group about why they support the NY HEAT Act. Here’s what they said:

From right to left: Save the Sound Policy Intern Ella McGrail accompanied by Jeanne Bergman, an affiliate of Sane Energy.

“Sane Energy is committed to eliminating the gas infrastructure while at the same time protecting energy affordability for low-income people and good union jobs. The NY HEAT Act does all of these things and more,” said Jeanne Bergman of Brooklyn-based Sane Energy Project.

Pictured here on the left is Becca Lewis, NYPIRG Project Coordinator.

“Ten years after Sandy, and a few years after Ida, New York State has not done enough to protect Long Island,” said Becca Lewis, NYPIRG Project Coordinator and lifelong resident of the South Shore of Long Island. “When the flash floods pour down our streets, we joke that we can finally afford a waterfront property. But we all know that it’s no laughing matter. The NY HEAT Act is the solution to stop fossil fuel expansion. We can no longer afford to put our climate, lives, and homes at risk. We are calling on the Legislature to include the full NY HEAT Act in the final state budget, including provisions to cap utility bills at 6%. Anything less would be compromising our futures here on Long Island.”

NY residents, you can help make this happen. Please take this moment to call the office of your assemblymember and ask them to support the NY HEAT Act. Click here to check if your assembly member is already a sponsor of the bill; if they are, thank them and encourage them to ask the Speaker to include the NY HEAT Act in the full budget.

If you’re unsure of who your assemblymember is, click here and enter your address. Please use this script when reaching out to them.

“Dear Assemblymember ______,

I’m ____ and I’m a constituent of yours from ____. I’m calling to ask that you support A4392B, the NY HEAT Act. It is crucial that the full Act be included in the legislature’s final budget because New Yorkers deserve cleaner heat and lower bills. We cannot afford to keep paying for more gas infrastructure that makes us sick and kills our planet. Please cosponsor the bill and ask Speaker Heastie to include the full NY HEAT Act in the budget.”

Thanks for taking action! We’ll keep you updated on progress of this important climate justice measure.

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