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Rochester groups urge lawmakers to pass climate, clean energy jobs bills

 Supporters of the Climate, Jobs & Justice Package rally in the center of Washington Square Park in Rochester.
Jeremy Moule
Supporters of the Climate, Jobs & Justice Package rally in the center of Washington Square Park in Rochester.

Roughly 30 people representing several local climate advocacy and social justice organizations turned out Thursday at Washington Square Park to call on state lawmakers to pass a package of climate, clean energy, and green jobs legislation.

The rally was one of eight across the state organized under the banner of the NY Renews coalition. The groups are applying pressure to state legislators to pass the Climate, Jobs & Justice Package, or CJJP, before their session ends June 8.

Allen Blair, a member of Citizens Climate Lobby and NY Renews, said the legislation would provide the nuts and bolts of New York’s clean energy transition.

"Without these bills, it'll be much harder to do and it will happen much more slowly,” Blair said.

The bills would, among other things, provide a funding mechanism for community-developed climate projects and for retraining workers in polluting industries to work in the green economy. Much of the funding would be steered to disadvantaged communities, many of which have suffered disproportionately from climate change and pollution.

Elizabeth McGriff of the City-Wide Tenant Union is best known for her work on housing issues. But she says the legislation would benefit many of the people she works on behalf of, particularly disadvantaged Black and brown communities.

“You see the disparities that are happening,” McGriff said. “And with a lot of the young people dying, this is an opportunity to change that scenario. This is opportunity to give people hope.”

Other legislation in the package would roll back state laws that its supporters have said props up natural gas infrastructure.

Assemblymember Sarah Clark, who spoke in support of the package, said the bills would also rein in energy costs for low- and middle-income households.

“So what we're really trying to do is get a holistic bunch of bills that are, all together, going to help us meet those goals while also doing it the right way protecting the right people, and making sure all the goals are accomplished,” Clark said.

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.