Friday, June 1, 2018

Europe to Take U.S. Tariff Concerns to World Trade Organisation

Source: euronews.

Poor People's Campaign Asks America to Face the Injustices Keeping Millions in Poverty

This report was broadcast on YouTube on May 30. 

Source: PBS NewsHour

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on U.S. Steel and Aluminum Tariffs: 'Totally Unacceptable'

The Canadian leader held a news conference in Ottawa shortly after the U.S. announced tariffs on steel and aluminum would be imposed on imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. He told reporters that the U.S. decision was “totally unacceptable” and the tariffs were an “affront” to the longstanding security partnership between the two countries. He’s joined by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland who outlined the retaliatory measures proposed against the U.S. 

Click here for video.

Hurricane Preparedness in 2018

New Republic staff writer Emily Atkin discusses what’s been done to make vulnerable communities more resilient to hurricanes following last year’s season.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN 

MS-13 in the U.S: An Analysis

Héctor Silva Ávalos of American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies discusses the state of MS-13 in the U.S.

Click here for video.

Border Patrol Continues to Exaggerate Danger to Agents to Justify Violence Against Immigrants

By Debbie Nathan

After Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 19-year-old indigenous Guatemalan, was shot to death last week by a Border Patrol agent near Laredo, Texas, the Border Patrol issued a press release claiming that the teenager was one of a group of “illegal aliens” who were “assailants” threatening the agent with “blunt objects.” Two days later, the government’s story changed. A new press release did not mention weapons, and it described the young woman not as an “assailant,” but as a part of a group who “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to get on the ground.

As a storm of media coverage ensued, NPR reported that the Border Patrol’s “use of force involving firearms” had more than doubled, after dropping more than 70 percent over five years. From October 2017 to March 2018, agents used guns nine times. During the same period the previous year, they used guns four times. Administration officials justified the spike, NPR said, by claiming that assaults on Border Patrol agents have increased significantly.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Intercept_

Flint Water Crisis: Race 'Was Factor' in Authorities’ Slow and Misleading Response, Says City's Black Mayor

Karen Weaver claims she was told to 'get over it' by the state's Republican governor Rick Snyder, an accusation he denies.

By Andrew Buncombe

Karen Weaver, who was elected mayor in November 2015, 18 months after the fateful decision had been made to switch the source of Flint’s water supply, said had the city not been either predominately African American and poor, the crisis may not have happened, or else the response would have been different.

“I sure do. And I was not the only person who thought this,” Ms Weaver told The Independent in an interview in her office.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Independent

U.S. Adds 223,000 New Jobs as Unemployment Falls to 18-Year Low in May

By Jeffry Bartash

The numbers: The U.S. created a robust 223,000 new jobs in May to push unemployment down to an 18-year low of 3.8%, signaling that a nine-year-old economic expansion still has plenty of steam despite being one of the oldest ever.

The increase in hiring — the biggest in three months — exceeded the 200,000 forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch.

Click here for the full article. 


An Imperial Presidency Can't Happen Unless Congress Abdicates Authority

This report was published on YouTube on May 31. You can view the full discussion here.

Source: CBS News 

Spain PM Forced to Resign Over Corruption Scandal

Protests in Argentina Calling for Decriminalisation of Abortion

Nicaragua Protests: More Than 100 Killed Since April

Kim Jong-un Aide Expected to Deliver Letter to Donald Trump

Source: FRANCE 24 English

EU Says U.S. Tariffs Are Not the Way to Do Business

Source: euronews.

New Italian Government Readies for Power

Source: euronews.

Denmark Bans the Face Veil

This report was published on YouTube on May 31.

Source: euronews.

Aid Agencies Warn of Syrian Refugee Funding Shortfall

This report was published on YouTube on May 31.
Source: euronews.

Racist and Homophobic Chants on the Rise in Russia Ahead of World Cup

This report was published on YouTube on May 31. 

Source: euronews.

Rape as a Weapon of War: Women in South Sudan Speak Out

This report was published on YouTube on May 31.

Source: euronews.

Inside Cynthia Nixon’s Developing Campaign Infrastructure

By Caitlin Bishop

If elected governor, Cynthia Nixon is promising to “transform New York" into a state “for the many” but her campaign for governor is already rapidly transforming the landscape of New York politics. She is putting pressure on incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, whom she hopes to defeat in the Democratic primary, and broadening her supporter base by linking up with the Working Families Party and other liberal groups that have endorsed her.

Three-and-a-half months from the September 13 primary, Nixon and her allies are plotting and executing a developing plan to create a statewide network and the campaign infrastructure necessary to carry her to what would be one of the most shocking upsets in recent political history.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Gotham Gazette (via Empire Report New York) 

'Democracy in Action': Deadlocked Senate Descends Into Chaos

By Nick Niedzwiadek

ALBANY — The state Senate lurched into disarray Thursday as a deadlocked chamber torpedoed a floor vote for the first time since the DREAM Act failed in 2014, prompting accusations from both sides of political gamesmanship.

“You saw democracy in action, and you saw Democrats playing shameless games with people’s lives, children’s lives,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said after session adjourned until Monday. “Democrats have decided they don’t want to govern, they want to have politics rule the day. It’s embarrassing, it’s disgusting and I hope the public understands they voted down a bill that was aimed to protect children all across the sate of New York. I don’t know how much more evident it gets than that.”

Senate Democrats this week have attempted to attach hostile amendments to force votes on two long stalled reproductive health measures — Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act, NY S 3668 (17R), and the Reproductive Health Act, NY S 2796 (17R) — prompting Republicans who control the chamber to scrap the planned agenda Wednesday.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Politico (via Empire Report New York) 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

'Trump in Trouble: Circling the Wagons. Why Now?'

Trump has been in trouble ever since the FBI began looking into possible ties between his campaign and Russian interests in the summer of 2016. We all know the gathering storm of evidence of cooperation or attempted cooperation between the Campaign and Russian interests. (Other crimes, like money-laundering and obstruction of justice could be on his legal agenda as well.) That evidence was first revealed to the FBI by George Papadouplos. Of course, Carter Page, the sometime Trump campaign staffer, had been under FBI surveillance off and on since 2013 because of suspicion that the Russians were trying, off and on, the recruit him as some kind of asset. 

Then there is the variety of indictments/guilty pleas, with the constant references in the media to the "cooperation" being offered by those who plead guilty, to the Mueller investigation. The one big fish who has been indicted but has not pled guilty as yet is of course Paul Manafort. However, recently, in an action that has not gained too much media attention, a former Manafort son-in-law who was active with him when he was helping to promote Russian interests in Ukraine before the "Nuland Coup," has pled guilty and is "cooperating." (Let's just hope that there were no children of that former union. This would be very tough for them: Dad vs. Grandpa and [presumably] Mom.) So, there's an increasing amount of "legal stuff" going on. 

Then there's the increasing number of revelations on various meetings that various Turmpites held with representatives of various foreign nations. Certainly, if anything of political value for the Trump Campaign was gained from these meetings, either financial or substantive, that would be illegal. But even if nothing substantive came of the various meetings, and Trump Jr. tells us over-and-over again that nothing did, just meeting to inquire about possible benefits may be illegal. Of course, one cannot count on Trump Jr. as a reliable recollector of what actually happened at any of them. At one Senate Intelligence Committee meeting he was reported to have said "I can't remember" 116 times. (And he's a good businessman?) 

Click here for the full commentary. 


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Meeting with North Korean Officials

Pompeo addressed reporters in New York City following his meetings with senior North Korean officials. He said he did not know whether the June 12 U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore was back on but told reporters “real progress” had been made in the last 72 hours. Mr. Pompeo also announced that North Korean official Kim Yong-chol would travel to Washington to deliver a letter to President Trump by Kim Jong-un. 

Click here for video.

Rex Tillerson Warns U.S. Faces Growing Crisis of Ethics and Integrity

In his commencement address to the Virginia Military Institute Class, former Secretary Rex Tillerson says American democracy is threatened by a growing “crisis of ethics and integrity,” and he warns against leaders who “seek to conceal the truth.”

Click here fro video.

Madeleine Albright Discusses President Trump's Foreign Policy

Former Clinton administration secretary of state Madeleine Albright discusses foreign policy with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN 

John Boehner: ‘There Is No Republican Party, There Is A Trump Party’

At Least 8 White Nationalists Running for Federal Office

How Americans May Be Hurt By Trade Tariffs

Source: CBS News

Would Italy Exit the EU, Quit the Euro?

UN Agencies Appeal for Funds for Syrian Refugees to Avoid Cuts

Ukraine Under Fire After Russian Journalist's Fake Death

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Libyan Parliament Speaker Slams 'Outside Interference' in Country

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Former Top US Official Warns of Possible 'Arab-Persian Conflict'

Source: FRANCE 24 English

US to Impose Steel, Aluminum Tariffs on EU, Canada, Mexico

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Conservatism and the Western Conservative Summit

Centennial Institute director Jeff Hunt discusses the state of conservatism and the upcoming Western Conservative Summit.

Click here for video.

Randi Weingarten Discusses Education Policy Under Betsy DeVos

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten discusses education policy under Secretary Betsy DeVos and the role of teachers' unions.

Click here for video.

Outrage Builds After Border Agent Kills Indigenous Guatemalan Woman

Source: Democracy Now!

Transgender Migrant from Honduras Dies in U.S. Custody

by Annie Rose Ramos

A transgender Honduran woman, who was part of the caravan of Central American migrants that arrived at the U.S. border earlier this month, died in detention on Friday.

Roxana Hernandez, 33, died in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from what appeared to be cardiac arrest. Hernandez was first admitted to a hospital more than a week ago “with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration, and complications associated with HIV,” according to a statement from ICE.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

New Chinese Trademarks for Ivanka Trump's Brand Raise Questions

Source: CBS News

Top North Korea Official Travels to US

EU Migration - 'Failure No Longer an Option'

Source: euronews.

Russian Journalist Babchenko Alive and Well

Source: euronews.

WHO Seeks Urgent Approval for Ebola Drugs

Source: euronews.

Markets Settle as Italy Seeks End to Political Uncertainty

Source: euronews.

Italy Crisis: EU Commissioner 'Should Have Shut Up'

Source: euronews.

Brexit 'Major Risk' for U.K. Economy Says OECD

Source: euronews.

US and Mexico President Trade Barbs Over Border Wall

Source: euronews.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

NY Students Announce Support for Student Journalist Free Speech Act

The Student Assembly of the State University of New York and the University Student Senate of the City University of New York- which together represent over 1.3 Million New York Students- are announcing joint support for Bill A-9801/ S-7721 (Lupardo/O'Mara)- the Student Journalist Free Speech Act.

This legislation- if enacted- would offer greater protections for student publications at all New York public educational institutions. While school administrations would maintain the ability to intervene in the cases of grievance abuses, this bill would protect the right of students to write about, and offer opinions on, controversial issues. 

“Student reporters are the next generation of journalists,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Assembly sponsor of the Student Journalism Free Speech Act. “Having more control over what they publish will support the integrity and independence expected of professional journalists. Freedom of the press is central to our democracy; it’s important that we give students that opportunity.”

"The role and the responsibility of a free press in American democracy is one of the most timely and serious examinations taking place in our society today,” said Senator Tom O’Mara, Senate sponsor of the bill. “I'm hopeful that the introduction of this legislation will help constructively and instructively contribute to the discussion and, especially for aspiring journalists and their instructors and mentors, help heighten their appreciation and understanding of the First Amendment, the working press, and the protection and preservation of this ideal moving forward into the 21st century."

"Student publications should be free from undue censorship and interference from school administrations- and students should be allowed to honestly critique school policy when necessary," said Michael Braun, President-Elect of the SUNY Student Assembly. "New York's educational institutions should model the first amendment values we teach our students are so essential to the exercise of our democracy."

"At a time when thinly veiled attacks on student voices are often coupled with claims of support for freedom of expression, it is important we lend support to initiatives that amplify student voices. Today, we can start right here, by supporting this bill to protect the rights of student journalists," said John Aderounmu, Chairperson of the CUNY University Student Senate.

The SUNY Student Assembly and CUNY University Student Senate urge the state legislature to pass the Student Journalist Free Speech Act before this session adjourns in June. 

Source: SUNY SA

ABC Cancels 'Roseanne' After Star's Racial Comments on Former Obama Staffer

Details are available in this New York Times article

Rev. Al Sharpton Responds

New York, NY Rev. Al Sharpton, President, National Action Network released the following statement today following ABC’s cancellation of Roseanne:

“ABC Television has done the right thing by immediately cancelling Roseanne. Whether it was Imus calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball disparaging names, a cartoonist at the NY Post making a cartoon of President Barack Obama portraying him as an ape, or a well-refined public servant like Valerie Jarrett being depicted as an ape by Roseanne Barr, there is no place in media for racism. Racism should not be tolerated by media that depends on corporate advertisers that make their money selling their goods to Americans. We will be vigilant and hold those accountable that use public airwaves to spread hate. We are prepared to go to city Comptrollers to have them drop stocks in media companies that engage in bigotry and racism. We salute the rapid response of ABC but we will continue to look into the hiring and business practices of all that shape public opinion in American culture."

Source: Mercury

Former Governor Bill Weld to Speak at the Cannabis Business Conference at Javits Convention Center

A-List Celebrities, CEOs and Industry Entrepreneurs Will Also Attend

Paramus, NJ, — Bill Weld, former Governor of the State of Massachusetts, who along with former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner, was recently named to the Board of Advisors for Acreage Holdings, one of the nation’s largest, multi-state actively-managed cannabis corporations, has been revealed as one of the speakers in the “Surprise Speakers Series,” taking place at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo). 

The event will run from May 30 to June 2 at the Javits Convention Center in New York. Governor Weld joins Mike James, a professional NFL football player, and other high-profile individuals who will all be making their first appearance at a national trade show and conference focused on the medical marijuana, industrial hemp and legalized cannabis industries. 

The Surprise Speaker Series, presented by the National Hemp Association, with support from Acreage Holdings, will take place on May 31 at 1:00 p.m. The goal of the Surprise Speaker Series, and the CWCBExpo NY educational program, is to elevate the conversation about the benefits of the cannabis, debunk negative stigma, and offer information, tools, and resources for businesses to succeed in the industry. 

Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld issued this part of a statement when appointed to the Board of Advisors for Acreage Holdings: 

“While we come at this issue from different perspectives and track records, we both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy. Over the past 20 years a growing number of states have experimented with their right to offer cannabis programs under the protection of the 10th amendment. During that period, those rights have lived somewhat in a state of conflict with federal policy. Also, during this period, the public perception of cannabis has dramatically shifted, with 94% of Americans currently in favor of some type of access, a shift driven by increased awareness of marijuana’s many medical applications.” 

Click here for additional information on the conference and speakers. 

Source: Fred Polsinelli

Allan Nairn on How Trump Dragged a Rightist Revolution to Power


Donald Trump has been in office 16 months. And the majority of media hours and column inches spent on his administration deal primarily with the Russia investigation, Stormy Daniels, and Trump’s personnel intrigue. It’s not that there isn’t great journalism being done on other issues. It’s that this narrow set of stories consume much of the energy and are on constant repeat pretty much everywhere in corporate media, except for Fox News, which generally broadcasts from an alternate reality.

On Intercepted, we have found it useful to occasionally step back from the daily grind of the Trump presidency and take stock of where we are and how we got here. My friend and colleague Allan Nairn is one of the sharpest analysts of the modern history of the American empire. As a journalist, he has played a significant role in exposing United States involvement in and sponsorship of brutal regimes and security forces around the globe. He survived the Dili massacre in East Timor in the early 1990s; he exposed the CIA’s financing of right-wing death squads in Haiti and the agency’s support for brutal military dictators in places like Guatemala and El Salvador; and he is perhaps the foremost expert in the world on the U.S. support for the genocidal regime of Suharto in Indonesia.
Allan was one of my heroes and role models when I first got into journalism in the mid-1990s. Last week was his second appearance on Intercepted, where we played an excerpt of the interview. 

Click here for the interview. 

Source: The Intercept_

White House Set to Place Tariffs on $50 Billion of China Goods Despite Truce

The US will keep taking action against China over trade, the White House has said, just over a week after agreeing to put the dispute "on hold".

Washington will release a list of some $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that will be subject to a 25 per cent tariff on 15 June, the White House said in a statement. The United States will also continue to pursue litigation against China at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

In addition, the Trump administration will announce investment restrictions and “enhanced export controls” for Chinese individuals and entities “related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology” by the end of June.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Independent

Facing Up to Worldwide Ecological Unraveling

 'Future Hope' Column

By Ted Glick

Over the last 15 years that I’ve been an activist and organizer on the issue of human/system-caused climate disruption, I’ve many times discussed with others if there is any hope of avoiding the ultimate unraveling of the world’s ecosystems, given how deep a hole we are in. Put another way, can we overcome in enough time the power of the fossil fuel industry and their corporate and government collaborators?

Realistically, there isn’t enough time to prevent major human and ecological damage on a worldwide scale. It’s already happening, via extreme weather events taking place more often and more destructively in all parts of the world. These are going to get worse before, many years in the future, they happen at a scale and frequency that is more normal; that is, more like how and when they have happened in recent centuries.

Another example is the war in Syria, which has led to a half-million deaths, tremendous destruction, millions of refugees, and a rise in anti-immigrant, racist political groups, particularly in Europe. The war was caused in part by climate change via a horrific, many-years-long drought that exacerbated economic hardship and social and political instability.

How will we as individuals and humanity as a whole cope if/when rising temperatures and a disrupted climate lead to major crop failures and water scarcity on top of all of the other impacts from extreme weather events and unraveling ecological systems?

In 2007 I engaged in a climate emergency fast that ended up going 107 days. 25 days were on water-only; the rest were on fruit and vegetable liquids, with powdered protein and vitamin supplements in the last 50 days. On about the 100th day I was reached out to by a young Indigenous leader who wanted to meet with me. We did so, and we had a deep and substantive talk for several hours.

The one thing that has stayed with me about that conversation was when we discussed what could be coming down the road as the climate becomes increasingly unstable. This very grounded and very intelligent young man spoke about how he had considered that in some Indigenous communities it might be necessary for people to decide, literally, who should live and who should die, who, by continuing to live, was best able to help as many as possible to survive until things changed for the better.
Click here for the full article. 

Why Your Health Insurer Doesn’t Care About Your Big Bills

Patients may think their insurers are fighting on their behalf for the best prices. But saving patients money is often not their top priority. Just ask Michael Frank.

This story was co-published with NPR.

Michael Frank ran his finger down his medical bill, studying the charges and pausing in disbelief. 

The numbers didn’t make sense.

His recovery from a partial hip replacement had been difficult. He’d iced and elevated his leg for weeks. He’d pushed his 49-year-old body, limping and wincing, through more than a dozen physical therapy sessions. 

The last thing he needed was a botched bill.

His December 2015 surgery to replace the ball in his left hip joint at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City had been routine. One night in the hospital and no complications.  

He was even supposed to get a deal on the cost. His insurance company, Aetna, had negotiated an in-network “member rate” for him. That’s the discounted price insured patients get in return for paying their premiums every month.

But Frank was startled to see that Aetna had agreed to pay NYU Langone $70,000. That’s more than three times the Medicare rate for the surgery and more than double the estimate of what other insurance companies would pay for such a procedure, according to a nonprofit that tracks prices.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: ProPublica

Bernie Sanders Considering 2020 White House Run, Adviser Says

Jeff Weaver, an adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders and manager of his 2016 presidential campaign, says the Vermont independent is considering another run for the White House in 2020 and "will decide when the time comes."

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN 

The Mumia Abu-Jamal Commentaries: 'Another School, Another Massacre'

Click here to listen to the May 20 offering.  

Source: Prison Radio

Washington Journal: A Discussion on Criminal Justice Reform

Freedom Partners chair Mark Holden discusses his group’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

Click here for video.

GOP's Midterm One-Two Punch: Keep Trump on the Trail, Senate Dems in D.C.

by Jonathan Allen, Hallie Jackson, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Geoff Bennett

WASHINGTON — Republicans are coalescing around a two-theater plan of political attack to save their Senate majority: keep President Donald Trump barnstorming the trail for GOP candidates while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., keeps Democratic incumbents off it for floor votes in Washington.

McConnell is threatening to cancel all or part of the annual August recess to focus on trying to confirm Trump's nominees, and sources close to and inside the White House who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity said that they are optimistic he will follow through on that course.

The challenge for Republicans is that there is no clear path forward on any major legislation at a time when Trump will be trying to rally base voters in a series of states where Republicans are defending their own seats and trying to knock Democrats out of theirs.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

Millions in the Path of Subtropical Storm Alberto

Starbucks Chairman: Trump's Rhetoric Has 'Given License' to Racism

Russia, US and Jordan Discuss Need to Preserve Truce in Syria

Reports: Former North Korean Spy Chief Heads to US for Talks

Libyan Summit: Factions Agree to December 10 Elections

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Slovakia Rocked By Murder of Investigative Journalist

This report was published on YouTube on May 28. 

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Brexit Could Be Delayed Until 2023

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Eye on Africa: Dozens of Civil Servants Arrested in Kenya Corruption Probe

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Italian Populist Parties Outraged After Interim PM Appointed

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Outrage Grows After US Govt. Loses Track of Migrant Kids

Source: FRANCE 24 English

French President Hopeful Libya Talks Will Lead to Elections

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Former Commander Exposes NYPD’s Corrupt Disciplinary Process That Often Gave Cops Special Treatment

Once-Thriving City Nonprofit Sputters Under Mayor’s Wife, Chirlane McCray

In the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance the City of New York became a fund-raising juggernaut: The city-run nonprofit, which channels donations to city programs or causes, raised tens of millions of dollars from private sources.

But under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the fund has not kept pace. Contributions are stagnant, if not falling, and now support fewer programs.

And the chairwoman of the nonprofit, Chirlane McCray, has largely been missing in action: She has attended less than half of the fund’s board meetings, and her outreach to donors has been sporadic.

Ms. McCray, the mayor’s wife, has not even set foot in the fund’s office for nearly a year; her public schedules in 2017 recorded less than 20 hours spent on Mayor’s Fund business during the entire year.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Times (via Empire Report New York) 

EANY Report Finds Questionable Spending of Climate Funds

Albany, NY — A new report, “RGGI At A Crossroads” by Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY) details the allocations of funds raised by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). While some meaningful environmental programs in New York owe their success to RGGI backing, the Cuomo Administration has also deviated from the original intent of the program by choosing to fund other priorities.

“RGGI is expected to support clean energy initiatives. Unfortunately, New York is redirecting these funds and missing a real opportunity to be a leader on climate change. Until the administration’s choices match their rhetoric, New Yorkers, especially those in in vulnerable communities, will continue to miss out on the full health and economic benefits associated with clean energy,” said Conor Bambrick, air & energy director at Environmental Advocates of New York and author of the report.

Under RGGI, carbon pollution from power plants in nine participating states is capped. For each ton of pollution emitted, power plants must purchase an “allowance.” The supply of those allowances is capped and auctioned off.

Proceeds are then distributed to the RGGI states to be invested in energy efficiency, renewables, and other carbon abatement programs. This investment, in turn, creates green jobs and protects the environment across the state.

Over the life of the program, RGGI has raised more than $1 billion for New York.
Highlights of the report include:

Subsidizing LIPA

As of September 2017, NYSERDA has, on a cumulative basis, budgeted one of every five RGGI dollars (over $208 million) to prop up Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) renewable and energy efficiency projects. Over a similar time period, LIPA has cut its own spending on the same programs by 30-percent from 2013 levels. Because RGGI funding now covers such a large portion of these LIPA programs, the Governor is effectively subsidizing LIPA rates and putting Long Island ratepayers ahead of other ratepayers around the state.

Plugging Budget Holes

A fundamental tenant of RGGI is that its proceeds are intended to supplement New York’s array of clean energy programs. However, since 2015, the state budget process has stripped $170 million in RGGI dollars from NYSERDA in order to pay for existing projects. For example, to date, $92 million in RGGI funds have been transferred to support energy tax credits that in some instances had been on the books since the mid-nineties.

Eschewing Transparency

In the biggest RGGI allocation to a single project in New York’s history, in August of 2016, NYSERDA awarded $25 million to the Brookhaven National Laboratory to partner with Cornell physicists on the design and construction of a new type of particle accelerator. In a notable breach of both transparency and accountability, this grant came a full four months before stakeholders were notified.

Success Stories

Despite questionable choices, there are RGGI funded programs that are living up their promise. For example, Green Jobs - Green New York, one of New York’s signature RGGI programs, has now helped more than 19,800 households invest in energy-saving home improvements. In addition, the Drive Clean Rebate program, which offers point-of-sale rebates of up to $2,000 for the purchase or lease of new qualified plug-in electric vehicles, has already provided New Yorkers with over $7.5 million worth of rebates for more than 5,750 vehicles.

“RGGI is too important to our future to play the kind of funding games we have seen out of the Cuomo Administration,” said Bambrick. “Luckily, he has the opportunity to once again lead on the issue. Prioritizing environmental justice, with at least 40-percent of the operating budget dedicated to projects that directly benefit low income and pollution impacted communities, would be a good first step.”

Source: EANY