For Immediate Release: May 3rd, 2023
DSA Kicks off the Green New Deal in New York
Four years of unprecedented climate organizing culminated in the Build Public Renewables Act
NEW YORK, NY–Having passed in the New York state budget, today the Build Public Renewables Act went from the nation’s biggest climate and green jobs bill to the nation’s biggest climate and green jobs law. Because of socialist organizing, New York is now a global model for a just transition, and the site of an ecosocialist future.
This fight began in 2019 amid life-threatening blackouts during a deadly heatwave. The failure of the private market and political establishment in the face of the climate crisis inspired the Democratic Socialists of America to launch the Public Power NY campaign to win a socialist vision for our energy system. Together, a coalition of unions, scientists, climate activists, legislators, and working-class New Yorkers overcame the corporate-backed establishment, put New Yorkers in control of the state’s energy system, and laid the course for New York to launch the Green New Deal.
“Capital brought us the climate crisis, and it will not be capital that delivers us from it,” said NYC-DSA Assemblymember Zohran K. Mamdani. “By equipping the New York Power Authority with the right and responsibility to develop renewable energy, we are on our way to a system of public power in New York—one that will be built with strong labor standards and a true commitment to a just transition. This was only possible because of the tireless work of Ecosocialists up and down this state.”
“The Build Public Renewables Act is a victory for our planet, for organized labor, for Black and brown communities suffering generations of pollution, and for every New Yorker who wants reliable energy and a livable future,” said Brandon Tizol, Co-Chair of NYC-DSA’s Ecosocialist Working Group. “From the beginning, socialists have led this fight and built a movement that inspired New Yorkers across the state around the promise of a just transition to a future we’ll be proud to pass to our children. Energy corporations and their allies in Albany threw everything they had at us, but couldn’t hold our movement back. Today we celebrate, and then we get back to the business of making sure this vision of a green future is implemented the right way, with everyday people leading the way.”
When implemented, the law will unleash public funding, including federal dollars from the Inflation Reduction Act, to empower the state’s publicly-owned New York Power Authority (NYPA) to directly own, build, and operate the 100% renewable energy infrastructure we need to decarbonize our power grid while delivering the equitable future we deserve.
The law’s gold standard union labor language, written by the AFL-CIO, will usher in a new era of green union jobs and create an Office of Just Transition that turns “a just transition for fossil fuel workers” from slogan to reality.
It creates a plan to shut down peaker plant smokestacks — which have long polluted Black and brown communities like the Bronx — by 2030.
It automatically provides discounts on energy bills for New Yorkers in disadvantaged communities, bringing down skyrocketing energy bills for those who need it most.
These historic programs were never guaranteed. Governor Hochul started the year by proposing a sabotaged “BPRA lite” that removed all of the above, a tribute to her half-million dollars in fossil fuel industry donations. But through relentless mass pressure, ordinary New Yorkers beat some of the most powerful forces in our state and won the law we’ve been fighting for.
But the fight doesn’t end here. At the last minute, the private energy lobby managed to prevent a democratic overhaul of NYPA’s leadership. To realize the vision New Yorkers have demanded, we must go further to give our communities their rightful seats at the table. Today, our movement enters the next phase: to fight to ensure the nation’s first true Green New Deal program is done right. And just as we’ve fought from the beginning, DSA will continue to build this movement in New York and beyond to bring the Green New Deal to life across the country.
ABOUT NYC-DSA: New York City Democratic Socialists is the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America—the largest socialist organization in the United States with over 85,000 members. NYC-DSA is run by its 6,000+ members and activists who are working together to build a democratic socialist organization in the five boroughs.