Op-Ed: Climate Bill Will Transform Power System

One of the final, transformative bills that the New York Legislature passed in the waning days of the legislation session is the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act ‘CLCPA’ This law will transform the way in which New York powers itself, shifting away from toxic, dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources.

It is a sweeping plan to address one of the pressing issues of this generation — our climate is changing, we live on an island, and we must take steps to reverse generations of pollution.

Our environment is our most precious resource. But it’s also a finite resource. One we must proactively protect, through subtle changes to our habits like switching to reusable bags in place of plastic, and encouraging investments into clean energy.

Not only will this legislation change the way we heat our homes, fuel our cars, and power our buildings, but it will create good-paying jobs and grow our economy. It protects communities that have long been burdened by pollution; neighborhoods that were swept underwater during Superstorm Sandy, and generations to come of children who will breathe cleaner air, enjoy safe drinking water, and reap the benefits a protected environment has to offer.

The CLCPA will help reverse centuries of pollution.

Like many transformative policies, the CLCPA has its skeptics. There are those who quite simply do not believe that our climate is changing, our tides rising, our air harder to breathe. There are those who think protecting our environment is too costly a price to pay, an unworthy investment.

I too, remember when skeptics doubted mandatory seat belts, when critics questioned the need for labeling pesticides used on our fruit, when smoking was considered safe. The safety of our roads and our health was ultimately too important. Those policies went into effect, and we are safer for them.

It is cheaper, easier, and smarter to fix a problem before it exacerbates past the point of being able to fix. Superstorm Sandy cost the United States $65 billion in damage. One storm. $65 billion. It set parts of our region back decades; some areas are still recovering. Our nation faces dozens of severe storms like Sandy each year. What if our behavior and our actions could prevent, or slow, these natural disasters from taking place?

Years from now, our children and our children’s children will thank us for this promise we are making, to leave them with a cleaner environment than the one we inherited.

Jim Gaughran is a Democrat representing the 5th New York State Senate district.

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