New Yorkers are celebrating what looks like a groundbreaking win in the fight for climate justice as Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday, February 6, 2020 announced the intention to stop all new fossil fuel projects within and serving the city.
Observers have described the development as the largest municipal ban announcement of its kind globally, which appears to build on the mounting global movement for a just transition off fossil fuels to a renewable-energy economy that works for all.
“This is a monumental step for New Yorkers in making our home a model for real climate leadership, and a massive victory for frontline communities and climate activists everywhere,” said Dominique Thomas, New Yorker and 350.org Organiser.
“As we enter the climate decade, we need transformational climate action, and now the financial centre of the world is moving to stop all new fossil fuel projects. This move invigorates us to protect our communities from all gas, oil, and coal projects, including the Williams fracked gas pipeline, and implement a Green New Deal that works for all New Yorkers,” he added.
It is also said that the announcement builds on recent moves by New Yorkers pushing the City to take concrete climate action: divesting its $215.5 billion pension funds from fossil fuels, enacting nation-leading legislation to slash pollution from big buildings, pursuing Exxon and other Big Oil corporations in court for climate costs and damages, expanding investments in wind and solar, and more.
Community resistance to fracked gas projects within and around the City continues to grow, including over 70 elected officials opposing the Williams fracked gas pipeline and tens of thousands of New Yorkers calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to stop Williams and all fracked gas projects.
“The Mayor of New York City announcing a ban on new fossil fuel projects will reverberate across the nation and around the world as a nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel economy,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, New Yorker and 350.org North America Director.
“As our communities protect our health and safety by keeping fossil fuels in the ground, Wall Street banks and insurers enabling projects like Keystone XL, Line3, and coast to coast fracking need to wake up. The writing is on the wall: move your money out of toxic fossil fuels and into real climate solutions,” added O’Laughlin.
The Mayor is set to issue an executive order to implement the ban. This, said observers, will be a critical step toward climate action, including ordinances, regulations, building code changes and legislation, to maximise the effectiveness of a ban and to ensure all staff and city agencies use all tools at their disposal, including how they engage in rate cases and Public Service Commission (PSC) hearings.
“In New York, utilities National Grid and Con-Ed have attempted to hold New Yorkers’ energy needs hostage, especially for small businesses, and Black and brown communities. In the midst of the Trump administration slashing hard-won climate protections, US municipalities have begun to restrict new gas hookups and require electrification of buildings.
“Governor Cuomo and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) retain overall decision-making on new and existing projects. Now, New Yorkers are escalating the demand for Cuomo to stop the Williams fracked gas pipeline once and for all and build on this announcement by declaring a ban on new fossil fuel projects across the state,” observed 350.org.