David Alicea is part of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which aims to unite grassroots activists around the country in order to move past the nation’s dependence on coal. Here he discusses the upcoming Rally for Renewables and other ways to move toward energy independence.
Last month, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Manhattan for the People’s Climate March. Now on this Thursday, October 30, the Sierra Club is hosting a rally for renewables. What is that in aid of?
Well it’s an hour before LIPA’s board meeting. They have two board meetings left in the year, on October 30 and December 17. We expect on December 17 they will make a decision whether to move forward or not on an offshore wind project 30 miles off of Montauk. So we saw this board meeting in October as kind of the last public opportunity to really come out there and show the overwhelming support for wind energy from a diversity of voices and to really make it known we’re going to have to rally.
Who are some of the people slated to speak at Thursday’s rally?
We have a pretty good lineup. There will be Lisa Tyson from the Long Island Progressive Coalition, Maureen Murphy for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Stephan Edel from the Center of Working Families, Jeremy Samuelson from the Concerned Citizens of Montauk is trying to make his way out, Gordian Raacke from Renewable Energy Long Island and Catherine Bowes from the National Wildlife Federation. We have some of your basic environmental groups, we have progressive voices, we have conservation focus groups who ask hard questions about new development projects. We’ll also have some staff from elected officials offices in the board meeting itself to also deliver statements on behalf of their legislators.
Do you have any sort of inkling as to whether or not the LIPA board and Governor Cuomo will approve the Deepwater ONE project?
In August there was some concern that they were going to put all of their decisions on hold. We were pretty concerned because—“On hold ’til when?” Originally, the commitment for 400 MW of renewable energy was made in 2012. Then you had LIPA reorganization, which delayed things, but they promised us they still would make a decision once reorganization settled down. And so we put a lot of pressure on the governor and LIPA over summer and they promised they would make a decision by the end of the year, which I think was a big victory. This process is the best chance for offshore wind. Which way LIPA and the governor will go, I don’t know. I think we’ve been pretty good in showing the overwhelming purport. We have polling data that shows more than 80 percent of Long Islanders support this, we should have at least 50 people there for Thursday’s middle-of-the-day event and normally no one goes to LIPA board meetings. But, the decision will be made behind closed doors sometime over the next month, or month and a half.
Election Day is just around the corner. What are some of the things our elected officials should be doing to continue to combat climate change?
We’ve seen the Town of East Hampton with its 100-percent by 2020 goal. Honestly, this is like a national example of leadership on climate issues. So I think now it’s operationalizing and making sure they reach that goal is the challenge they have. And that’s where we feel the Deepwater project fits in, in really helping them achieve that, but I think they’re going to keep doing great things to sort of make sure that comes through and we’ve been working really closely with Senator LaValle and others on being on the forefront of wind energy. We’ve just sent a letter to the governor about this. So I think it’s really having them keep doing the great work they’re doing and having the East End serve as a real example. We could set the stage for the rest of Long Island, for the state and the nation. It’s a really exciting movement.
The Rally for Renewable Energy will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 30, at LIPA HQ, 333 Earle Ovington Boulevard in Uniondale. Those interested in carpooling from the East End should call Dea Million at (612) 644-1162.