As we experience more natural disasters and negative health effects associated with climate change, the push for widespread renewable energy has become more insistent. For New York State, legislators have introduced a bill that outlines rigorous reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to be met in the coming decades.
Climate and Community Protection Act
The aim of the bill is to “address and mitigate the impacts of climate change in New York.” Currently, the bill is in the Environmental Conservation Committee. It will need to be passed in both the Senate and Assembly before it can be approved or vetoed by the Governor.
The provisions within the bill range from officially defining terms to placing statewide restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. To summarize, the bill would:
- Create the New York State Climate Action Council and a Climate Change Working Group
- Require the Department of Environmental Conservation to meet several regulatory and research goals:
- Create a renewable energy implementation plan
- Require that half of the Power Authorities’ electric generation be produced by renewable sources by 2030
- Authorize funds for renewable energy projects in disadvantaged communities
- Set fair contract requirements for construction and maintenance of renewable energy projects
While less detailed, the Climate and Community Protection Act would also mandate the creation of resiliency strategies. The bill focuses on mitigating the effects of climate change, but recognizes that some adaptation to unavoidable change will be needed.
Where Does it Stand?
The Climate and Community Protection Act is a few years old, having passed in the Assembly but not the Senate in 2016 and 2017.
Steve Engelbright (D), the chair of the Assembly’s environmental committee, has sponsored the bill and continues to be a strong supporter of it. Engelbright argues that climate change is a pressing issue for which we must “pay now or pay later”.
It’s unclear whether the bill will pass in the Senate; previously controlled by Republicans, the bill may have better chances with the current, Democrat-controlled committee. However, the chair of the Senate’s environmental committee, Todd Kaminsky (D), is reserving judgment on the bill until after hearings have been held.
Recently, Governor Cuomo shared details of his “green new deal“, part of which addresses carbon emissions. His plan aims to achieve completely carbon-free energy production by 2040. In regards to the Climate and Community Protection Act, Cuomo has taken no official stance.
For business groups, the provisions of the bill seem ambitious or downright impossible, although New York would not be the first state to institute strict regulations on carbon emissions. Among their objections are the issues of cost and industry relocation; some might pack up and move to a state with less stringent regulations. It remains to be seen whether the Climate and Community Protection Act will be successful.
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