Local activists in Rockland County and the surrounding region are today condemning Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney for his record of prioritizing political gains over the lives of working class communities – especially communities of color. A new report in American Prospect today revealed Congressman Maloney’s track record of supporting dirty energy interests, and has deepened the concerns of environmentalists and other grassroots groups over the sincerity of his support for the Green New Deal, and his commitment to mitigating the climate crisis.
The Danskammer Plant, situated in the city of Newburgh, is already partially responsible for elevated rates of asthma in Newburgh’s Black and Latinx residents, even at its reduced capacity. The proposed $500 million dollar expansion, since defeated but supported by Congressman Maloney, was certain to decrease air quality further, and extend its polluting reach to downstream Rockland County.
“We reached out to Congressman Maloney over and over again to help stop the dirty Danskammer fracked gas power plant, and time and again he blew us off,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Action. “True leaders on climate change recognize the obvious fact that we can’t afford to build more fossil fuel projects. One has to wonder why it’s so tough for Maloney to say no to fossil fuels.”
“Maloney has received $65,000 from fossil fuel PACs and industry leaders. It’s no wonder he’s never signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. We need leaders in Congress who will fight for working people — not their fossil fuel donors,” said Meredith Wisner, Chair of Rockland Working Families Party. “Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Maloney’s primary challenger, takes no corporate PAC money, and has signed the pledge in 2020 and again in 2022.”
“Maloney’s acceptance of dirty PAC money is antithetical to the progressive values of the WFP and voters here CD17,” said John Coddman, of Westchester-Putnam Working Families Party. “We deserve a true leader on the environment representing us and Senator Alessandra Biaggi will do just that!”
“At the federal level, Congressman Maloney has opposed substantial progress to battle the climate crisis, refusing to cosponsor the Green New Deal for Public Schools, the Green New Deal for Public Housing, the End Polluter Welfare Act, and the Keep It in the Ground Act, among other pieces of critical legislation,” said Tyler Hack of Sunrise Movement NYC. “As climate champions like Senator Biaggi worked to pass the Build Public Renewables Act and a moratorium on the most harmful type of cryptocurrency mining in Albany, Maloney actively undermined the efforts of environmentalists in Congress.”
Also troubling is the way Congressman Maloney used his power and influence to try and intimidate Rockland ’s newly elected Congressman, Mondaire Jones. Jones, a Rockland native from Spring Valley, ran on a commitment to block the expansion. Jones’ office began circulating a letter to the New York delegation to build support for opposing the plant. Zach Fisch, Congressman Jones’ former Chief of Staff stated, “I got a call from someone on Maloney’s staff, saying, effectively, ‘bury this or else.’”
This pattern is not new. In 2014, Maloney was one of only 31 Congressional Democrats, who voted in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a move he doubled down on the following year despite massive protests by Indigenous communities working to protect the health of groundwater and air quality in their region. The Keystone XL Pipeline, if completed, would have ferried some of the dirtiest fossil fuels through crucial water sources across four US states and Indigenous lands.
In the years 2013 – 2018, when the project was at its most viable, Maloney received $23,200 from the fossil fuel industry; including from TransCanada Energy, Keystone’s corporate backer. All told, he has received over $65,000 in fossil fuel dollars through 2021.
Maloney followed up his Keystone votes by voting to end restrictions on exports for the oil industry. He was the only New York State Representative to vote for this bill, which environmentalists argued would encourage more drilling and ultimately increase carbon emissions.
“In nearly ten years in Congress, Rep. Maloney has not proven himself to be a bold fighter for climate justice,” said Taylor Mandelbaum, Steering Committee Member of Rockland United. “Maloney is not the climate leader Jones has proven himself to be. In his short time in office, Jones sponsored or co-sponsored the Fossil Free Finance Act, the Climate Justice Act, and the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act – none of which Maloney sponsored or co-sponsored. Will he urge the Biden administration to listen to Black, Brown, and Indigenous populations in the fight for climate justice, like Jones? We think not.”
Alessandra Biaggi is endorsed by Sunrise Movement NYC, The New York Working Families Party, and Rockland United among many other grassroots organizations. Food & Water Action is a D.C.- based organization focused on holding corporations and governments accountable for the health of our food and water supplies.