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Labor, green groups team up to push for clean energy in NY

June 2, 2016 By David Klepper Associated Press
Pete Sikora of Communications Workers of America speaks with environmental coalition groups at a rally outside the state Capitol on Wednesday. Several hundred environmentalists urged lawmakers to pass the New York state Climate & Community Protection Act, a climate protection bill. AP Photo/Hans Pennink
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Several labor unions and environmental groups teamed up Wednesday to urge New York lawmakers to do more to address climate change.

The coalition, called NY Renews, rallied outside the state Capitol before the Assembly voted late Wednesday night to codify some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s clean energy goals.

Environmental groups have long lobbied for more aggressive action on climate change, but the participation of the state’s powerful organized labor movement could give the effort more muscle in Albany.

Labor leaders said the unions see climate change as an issue of economic justice — and economic opportunity.

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“I have younger kids. I don’t want the world they live in to be a miserable one,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ Service Employees International Union, one of the members of NY Renews. “We are at a turning point. The urgency goes beyond labor. It’s about humanity.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, wants half of New York’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. But that effort could be canceled by a future governor.

The bill before lawmakers would put the goal into state law and require officials to craft a plan for getting there, along with standards for clean energy jobs and workforce training programs.

The transition to renewable energy will not only benefit the environment but also create new opportunities for workers, supporters said, offering another explanation for the support from organized labor.

“When we invest in a green economy we are investing in good jobs,” said Assemblymember Latrice Walker, a Brooklyn Democrat.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.


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