Dayenu joins faith leaders to decry “moral failure” of New York policymakers

Leaders of many faiths gathered at the New York State House on May 20 to speak out about the moral failure of New York’s Governor and Legislature to address the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis on New Yorkers – especially on households already struggling to get by. 

The “Faith Day of Action” kicked off the Climate Justice Action Week organized by the NY Renews coalition to call out the State Assembly and Governor Hochul for failing the people of New York by refusing to pass common-sense climate legislation.

This year, the NY Renews coalition has been advocating for the Climate, Jobs, and Justice legislative package, including the NY HEAT Act, the Climate Change Superfund Act, and the Just Energy Transition Act (JETA). While all three bills passed in the Senate, the Assembly has refused to move them. 

The activists who showed up for the day made many visits to legislative offices, and paused at the staircase near the Legislative Correspondents Association for prayer and song. Rev. Chelsea Mac led them in Batya Levine’s song “In hope / In prayer / We find ourselves here.” 

Quotes from Faith Day of action

Several faith leaders spoke and led song and prayer. In response to the continued moral failure of the legislature, some climate leaders offered comments:

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “The Climate Change Superfund Act (A.3351) represents a crucial step in addressing the immediate and severe threat climate change poses to New York’s communities, environment, and economy. By holding companies that have significantly contributed to greenhouse gas emissions accountable, this bill ensures they share in the responsibility for the necessary investments to adapt our infrastructure to the irreversible impacts of climate change. This innovative program aligns with the principle that polluters should pay for the damage they cause and prioritizes the safety, welfare, and quality of life for future generations of New Yorkers. It’s time for the entities that profited from fossil fuels to bear their fair share of the costs, ensuring a resilient and sustainable future for all.”

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, called out the urgent need to act:  “We have a short window of time in which to address the climate crisis and ensure that we can continue to live l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation. We find ourselves asking unimaginable questions: What will life be for our children and grandchildren? Will all people have clean air to breathe and water to drink? Jewish values call us to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis: Shomrei adamah (protect the earth); shomer ger yatom v’almanah (protect the vulnerable); and most essentially of all bacharta b’chayim (choose life).  Not taking action to mitigate the crisis and protect all people – when we know what to do – is not just unwise, it is shameful.”

Michael Richardson, Third Act Upstate New York, said: “We can read this in the news every day: government and big business must massively fast-track climate action on all fronts if there is to be any hope of averting critical tipping points in the climate system. Yet since the release of the Climate Action Council scoping plan two years ago, the State has passed only two major climate bills. This year, not even one climate bill has been passed by the NYS Assembly. This incrementalism in funding and implementing our landmark Climate Act only brings us closer to those catastrophic tipping points. We have all the knowledge and tools to transition the state economy from fossil-fuels to renewables; what is missing is political courage and political will.”

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