I Loved that Car

On September 29th, an unusually heavy deluge struck New York City with many inches of rain. I was driving north on the Bronx River Parkway, a narrow thread of a throughway under significant construction and thick with traffic. I was traveling in the middle lane nose to tail ahead and behind me. As I approached an underpass, the traffic suddenly stopped, as the puddle underneath grew in size and depth as the Bronx River backed up and poured into the underpass. Five minutes later, I abandoned my car after the water rose in the car up to the bottom of my seat. My car was in a video posted in the New York Times. You may have seen the grey roof of the car, at least the last inch or two of it in the bottom left corner of the screen.

I joke that I have never made the New York Times, but my car has. The levity serves as a slight balm for the struggle to wade through the filthy flood water to the safety of the ramp, and the rest of the journey home. A month later, most of the disaster is resolved. While counting my blessings, the more important task is a backward look at the mechanisms or lack of mechanisms in place addressing climate change.

The car insurance company was swift, accurate and fair in their recompense. The tow truck driver was sympathetic and helpful with his blunt answers. In contrast, the City of New York was overwhelmed, ill-prepared, and hiding the fact that the flooding issue at this underpass is a long, ongoing problem that has never been addressed. The private companies are already updating their processes and responding with the ease of fresh experience. Government, however, is far behind, mired in the “talking phase” at the beginning before the beginning of any solution process.

Why is our government so slow to respond? Government is typically reactionary, only responding after the fact. Funding is always a contentious issue because the pot of available funds is always too small to address the needs as they are understood today. Even so, the crux of this lack of government response is the long, ongoing meddling by the fossil fuel industry at every level of government.

The approach of the fossil fuel industry is to kill any legislation and all regulation that promotes a response to climate change. Their approach is still to deny climate change. If climate change does not exist, then there is no reason for government to fund responses to the escalating crisis. As former governor Mike Huckabee said in an abrupt response to a question on the presence of climate change, “Eh, it will be gone in another year or so.”

The government response to climate change is far, far behind the needs of the day. The number of weather-related disasters per year is rising and the cost of each disaster is also escalating. Even if your house or car was not directly affected this past year, the growth in the costs of repair and replacement is causing your insurance rates to rise, and your taxes as well. Yet, the year 2023 has demonstrated we can take back both the narrative and the power to compel a better government response.

New York State has demonstrated that the fossil fuel industry push to defeat climate legislation and regulation can be stopped. Citizen action is as powerful or even more powerful than the paid lobbyists and campaign donations when such actions are applied. We have pressured legislators to vote for bills and mandates to address the changing climate, and many responded. We have thwarted attempts to remove the regulatory guardrails at city, county, and state levels of government. Our lobby visits, protests, and rallies worked.

Climate change is relentless, and it is speeding up; losing my car in a freak storm is ample proof. We are making a difference and defeating the greed of the old energy economy as the weather alarms clamor louder. Let us finish the task we set out to do, to save the Creation from the ravages of greed and unrelenting development.

Now we are confident: the goal is obtainable.

Bomb Scare

My congregation was one of 175 synagogues that received a bomb threat this past weekend. No bomb was found and we’re fine. First, I would ask you to check in with affiliating synagogues in your area; let them know you care. Second, all of this spreading Jew hatred is expensive and is being funded by someone(s), dark money akin to what we face as climate activists. The louder you protest and the harder you fight for climate change legislation at every level of government, the more you push back against these same authoritarian thrusts that seek to divide the nation. Your work to save the creation by organizing has more goodly consequences than you may realize. From fear, to faith, to fighting for justice!

Virtual Lobby Visits

The New York State budget was released late last night and now we know what we need to ask our legislators next week. Join NYIPL and the NY Renews coalition for our post-budget Lobby asks. You do not need to speak; we do need you to show up. Every visit already has a lobby lead assigned to guide the group.

At Chautauqua Institute

Rabbi Jacob will be presenting at Chautauqua Institute this summer during Infrastructure Week. He will be delivering a lecture followed by Q&A on our religious approach to addressing climate change. His presentation is scheduled for July 24, 2023 at 2:00pm in the Hall of Philosophy. For further information go to: https://www.chq.org/

Storytelling Workshop

We are taking our stories and our demands to our legislators with video clips. Join us as we learn how to make a 2-3 minute video using our faith traditions. At the end of workshop you will be able to:

  1. Write a brief story
  2. Record easily (painlessly) for posting
  3. Learn the storytelling tradition of your faith
  4. Take action and reach out further into the community
  5. Turn the words of heartfelt prayers into deeds with others across the state.

Sunday, August 28th @ 7:00pm

To register go to: https://forms.gle/xVHsiG2WnLgyb8Xj7

West Virginia v the EPA

What Does West Virginia v EPA mean?

Congresspeople and as a whole, the Congress, are not experts on environment and environmental issues. They pass laws that give general directions and boundaries while instructing agencies to engage experts to implement the laws by drafting regulations. The majority of the Supreme Court says this methodology is no longer valid. They ruled the legislation must spell out the regulations in full in the legislation and the EPA only has the authority to oversee the regulations written in the laws. The EPA can no longer promulgate regulations. The Supreme Court demands are impossible, which means the entire fossil fuel industry is now essentially deregulated.

Power of Our Voice Confirmed

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has called for a “Special Session” of the Assembly to consider the “Build Public Renewables Act” that he failed to bring to the floor for a vote at the end of the session last week. The NYS Senate has already passed the bill.

Calling a special session is rare and unusual. Politico offers that the special session to consider the bill was called because the intense public pressure.

That pressure is US, my friend. Whoo-hoo!

The session will convene on July 28th.