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Climate Week: Riverkeeper reaffirms its commitment to fighting the threats posed by climate change in New York

Fighting climate change in NY

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climate changeOSSINING, N.Y. — Climate change is happening. It has increased the temperature of the Hudson River by four degrees Fahrenheit, and the river level by one foot over the past 100 years. The river and its communities are already experiencing more intense storms, water quality impacts, and ongoing sea level rise — all of which are predicted to continue to get worse over time.

Climate Week is more important than ever, as the world faces growing and interconnected crises and unprecedented climate effects. Along the Hudson River, more extreme and frequent storms are already causing increased flooding and erosion, stormwater runoff, and the release of more raw sewage and other pollution,” says Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “More severe and regular droughts and high temperatures have already led to harmful algal blooms which can be toxic to humans and pets. Sea level rise threatens our river communities, while increased water temperatures have led and will continue to lead to the local extinction of fish species, and stress to other native wildlife.”

For decades, Riverkeeper has been a regional leader in the fight against climate change on behalf of the Hudson River and its communities. We championed a hydraulic fracturing ban in New York and fought against numerous fossil-fuel infrastructure plans that not only threatened our regional waterways, but would have prolonged our dependence on oil and gas. Today, we continue to stand against natural gas facilities, such as the proposed refit of the old Danskammer “peaker” plant in Newburgh into a new, full-time baseload facility. We’ve also spoken out against projects like the Champlain Hudson Power Express power cable, which falsely promises to provide clean, renewable energy, but would more likely increase environmental impacts in the U.S. and Canada and cause a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently, Riverkeeper built a dynamic and effective coalition of New Yorkers to pressure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into dropping plans for massive storm surge barriers in New York Harbor, which would have choked the life out of the river while not properly addressing sea level rise in the region.

“Part of addressing climate change is preparing and building the community and physical infrastructure we need to establish coastal resilience and respond to sea level rise,” says Jessica Roff, Riverkeeper’s Director of Advocacy and Engagement. “We spent more than a year pushing the Army Corps of Engineers to engage affected communities, and to make sure the Corps did not advance any plans that would destroy the Hudson River and its ecosystems to protect property.”

Riverkeeper is now dedicated to protecting coastal communities and ecosystems as a member of the steering committee for the “Rise to Resilience” campaign, a coalition of community groups, scientists, labor unions, lawmakers, and concerned citizens, organized by the Waterfront Alliance, working to protect people and wildlife in our region from the impacts of climate change.

We also continue to back clean-energy initiatives like the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act — the nation’s strongest climate legislation — which will move New York State toward 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2050. And as a member of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, we’re dedicated to seeing New York become a national leader in environmentally sound offshore wind development. We also helped achieve a massive increase in statewide utility energy efficiency standards and a New York State green roof tax abatement, along with legislation in New York City to require green roofs or solar/wind energy capacity on all new and significantly modified rooftops.

Continued advances in clean, renewable energy and demand reduction will make it possible to close the aging, accident-prone Indian Point nuclear plant in April 2021 without the continuing need for additional power from fossil fuels.  New York will be able to make this dangerous plant redundant through a combination of new clean energy sources, transmission improvements and energy efficiency, according to the New York Independent System Operator, which coordinates the distribution of our electricity supply.

“It’s encouraging to see the commitment of New Yorkers to mitigating the effects of climate change in our small corner of the planet. Meanwhile, it’s frightening to see climate change’s immediate consequences: Massive floods, severe droughts and monstrous fires occurring simultaneously throughout the world,” says Gallay. “Just as frightening is the lack of appropriate response by national and world leaders, as their continued inaction pushes the world closer to major and irreversible change. For us, Climate Week is a powerful reminder that it will take action from both government and the grassroots to stem the tide of climate chaos.”

For more information: Contact Cliff Weathers, Communications Director

cweathers@riverkeeper.org; 845-445-8257

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