Climate Activists Rally For Action As NYC Air Quality Plummets, Urging Speaker Heastie To Pass NY HEAT Act

June 7, 2023


Last night, while more than 150 climate-driven wildfires in Quebec shrouded New York in thick, toxic smoke, the Senate passed the NY HEAT Act.

This legislation would move New York to the fossil fuels responsible for particulate matter, or PM2.5, currently poisoning the air. In the waning days of the session, it’s up to the Assembly to pass NY HEAT and protect New Yorkers now.

Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Right now in New York City, it looks, feels, and smells like the dystopian climate catastrophe experts have been warning us about for decades. But in the next 48 hours, the Assembly can pass a bill that will curb our reliance on fossil fuels and protect New Yorkers from the poisonous air that’s becoming more and more dangerous by the second.

“As New Yorkers choke on smoke, the Assembly is failing to meet the scale of the crisis. To prevent New York state from becoming a hellscape where just breathing increases our risk of asthma, the Assembly must pass NY HEAT now.”

The NY HEAT Act would ensure an affordable transition off the fossil fuels supercharging dangerous wildfires by stopping the expansion of the dirty, toxic gas system; and reducing utility bills by eliminating gas subsidies and capping energy bills at 6% for low- and middle- income families, saving them up to $75 per month. These households are the most impacted by volatile gas prices and high energy bills, paying three times more of their income on energy bills than other families.

The final budget included the first-in-the-nation All-Electric Building Act, which will require new buildings in New York to use efficient electric heating and appliances starting in 2026. But the work to clean up our buildings and save New York families money is not complete without NY HEAT. This bill would lay the legal and regulatory foundation for an affordable transition off fossil/methane gas as delineated in the state’s Climate Action Scoping Plan. To reach New York’s climate goals, and dramatically reduce air pollution, the state needs to electrify most buildings by 2050.

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