February 19, 2015

Speaker Heastie Convenes Climate Change Work Group

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced the formation of a new Climate Change Work Group to explore policy initiatives on both state and federal levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the effects of climate change.

"There is no longer a question of whether or not our planet is changing. With each passing year that efforts are not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions we increase our vulnerability to the extreme weather events and natural disasters that have continued to claim lives and which have wrought billions of dollars in economic losses over the last ten years alone." said Heastie. "With the creation of this new work group on climate change, we will help to ensure that our choices moving forward are informed, responsible and in the best interests of our environment and our citizens."

The work group will examine policy initiatives that may be helpful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a known cause of climate change, as well as recommend potential modifications to existing laws and regulations that will help to minimize damage from future extreme weather events.

The work group will be led by Assemblymember Steve Englebright, chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee.

"Climate change has already begun to affect New York State and future generations will be directly impacted by the decisions we make today," said Englebright. "This Work Group will be the vehicle to move our state and our environment into a safer, more sustainable future."

The following Assemblymembers have also been appointed to serve on the Climate Change Work Group:

"The signs of climate change are all around us," said Heastie, noting that New York is struggling to deal with record heat waves in the summer months and crippling levels of snowfall in the winter months.

The economic and humanitarian costs of these weather extremes are growing and evidence is mounting that the longer we delay action on these measures, the harder it will be to prevent further damage. New York is home to one of the most robust agricultural industries in the nation and over the last several years, the state has spent millions of dollars responding to weather-related conditions that have threatened our agricultural economy.

"It is critical that we acknowledge the significance of climate change and institute real efforts to safeguard our communities," said Heastie. "In recent years, weather events like Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Sandy as well as record snowfall in western New York and flooding along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers have proven that we can no longer afford to disregard the impact of our actions. After unprecedented damage to critical infrastructure, homes and billions of dollars in rehabilitation and recovery costs, it is time that we explore solutions to address these challenges here in New York State."

Last September, more than 300,000 people gathered in the streets of New York City to raise a call to action to address the threat of global warming. On that day, similar demonstrations were taking place in over 150 countries around the world.