New York – Today, in an op-ed published in the Albany Times-Union, Senator Liz Krueger argues that although fossil fuel companies will continue to deny their responsibility for high gas prices, the only real, long-term solution to the roller-coaster ride of energy costs is ending our addiction to the fossil fuels that drive global instability.

Commentary: Election will decide state’s direction on climate change

This winter, New Yorkers will once again face the pain of higher energy costs, with the price of gas heat, gas-powered electricity, and likely gasoline going up significantly.

National Grid has estimated that its average residential gas heating customer in the Capital Region will see their bills increase by 39 percent, and Con Edison forecasts that the average electric customer in New York City, where over 90 percent of electricity is generated by fossil fuels, will experience a 22 percent increase in costs.

The reasons for these increases are no secret. The prices of the fossil fuels on which we all still depend are set in a global market, making us subject to the whims of global players, particularly petro-state dictators like Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In a grim development for global democracy, the Saudis have now taken Russia’s side in its war of conquest in Ukraine, and OPEC has announced a production cut that will put the squeeze on Europe and the United States.

In the short term, of course, we should channel the “Blitz spirit” that calls us all to make small sacrifices for the greater good – yes, Americans are still capable of that. We can turn down our thermostats a few degrees, carpool or use public transit, or choose a more fuel-efficient car, doing our part to reduce demand and therefore prices. These are real ways to support the brave Ukrainians facing down Putin’s tanks, and save money in the process. But by now we all know that the only real, long-term solution is ending our addiction to the fossil fuels that drive global instability.

In the coming months, as we head into the general election and the legislative session in Albany, the polluters’ lobby will be spending some of their massive windfall profits propping up candidates who do their bidding, while trying to convince us that they are not to blame – that it isn’t the roller-coaster spikes in the price of climate-damaging fossil fuels that are causing us pain in the wallet, but clean energy powered by the free wind and sun. These are the same special interests who say they represent “affordable energy” while they continue to rip off consumers by jacking up their prices. They want to stop the progress we’ve made toward a green economy that benefits all New Yorkers, and they’ve demonstrated that they’re willing to do and say pretty much anything to derail the (electric) train of progress.

Fortunately, New Yorkers are smarter than that. We know a con artist when we see one, and we need to be on the lookout, because we are heading into a critical year for the clean-energy transition in which we will make key budget, legislative, and regulatory decisions about how to implement our nation-leading climate laws.

We have a choice to make as a state and as individual voters. We can choose the future that the fossil fuel companies want for us: a future of superstorms, drought, heat waves, and sky-high energy bills that funnel American dollars into the hands of dictators.

Or we can choose to build a future of clean air, green jobs and economic prosperity for communities across our state. That means embracing building and vehicle electrification, energy efficiency and weatherization, and a host of other proven solutions that are ready to go as soon as we find the political will.

These choices will be made at the ballot box in November, and in the state Capitol in January. I urge my fellow New Yorkers to make the right choice.