by Anne Lotito-Schuh |

“If you are lucky enough to live by the water, you are lucky enough,” the old saying goes.

Here, on the South Shore of Long Island, we all understand the value of our beautiful beaches and share a desire to preserve them and our waterfront communities for future generations.

Unfortunately, so many of us lucky enough to live by the water are also unlucky enough to know a family displaced by the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy, or unluckier yet, were the ones displaced.

Being fortunate enough to live at the edge of the land and the sea also means that we are the first to experience the disastrous effects of climate change.

Whether it is our homes being destroyed by intensifying storms, our flood insurance premiums rising, increased public spending on infrastructure intended to secure us from future storms, or the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink at threat, we cannot afford to wait for the rest of the world to take action on climate change.

The projected costs we will incur in the form of associated deaths, mass migration, and economic damage as a result of climate change threaten Long Islander’s very way of life.

Too often in the discussion surrounding this, economy is pitted against environment. We need to end this false dichotomy.

We need to think smarter, committing New York State to 100 percent renewable energy by making sound investments in solar, wind, and other renewable resources, creating local jobs by building clean infrastructure for our children’s future, and paying for these changes by holding corporate polluting entities accountable for the damage they have caused.

A recent University of Massachusetts study shows us that a modest polluter fee starting at $35 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions could generate over $7 billion in state revenue every year. This money could be used not only to spur investments in renewable energy, but also to protect shoreline communities and to support fossil fuel workers as they transition to the clean energy economy.

Just as we would all be held personally accountable for illegal dumping of trash and chemicals, we need bold leadership acting now to hold corporate fossil fuel polluters accountable for the greenhouse gases they have been permitted to pour into our environment with impunity, the cost of which we as taxpayers now pay.

We all deserve clean air, clean water, storm safety, security, and economic prosperity.

Committing New York State to renewable energy, holding corporate fossil fuel polluters accountable, and investing in clean infrastructure is the way to ensure all of those things for future generations of Long Islanders.

Top: The Deepwater Wind farm off Block Island at sunset. (Credit: Deepwater Wind)

Anne Lotito-Schuh lives in Babylon and  is a librarian and volunteer for the NY Renews campaign. NY Renews is a coalition of over 130 organizations that aim to make New York State the nation’s leader in tackling the climate crisis while protecting workers and lifting up communities.

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