New York Lawmakers Strike Deal on Ambitious Climate Plan

June 19, 2019 by Dan McCue

Lawmakers in New York State reached a deal Tuesday on a sweeping climate bill that would require 70% of electricity used in the state to come from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro by 2030.

The bill is a mash-up of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s take on the so-called Green New Deal, and the state legislature’s long discussed but never enacted Climate and Communities Protection Act.

The amended proposal, renamed the Climate Leadership and Communities Protection Act in a nod to the governor’s original pitch, is expected to be voted on Wednesday.

It goes on to require that 100% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources, and sets aside a portion of the state climate fund for investment in the communities most affected by climate change and pollution.

Another goal set in the measure is the elimination of 85% of greenhouse gas emissions, from a baseline of 1990 levels, from the state’s entire economy within 30 years.

In an interview with Susan Arbetter, host of WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom, Cuomo said he wants New York State “to have the most aggressive climate change program in the United States of America. Period.

“Our goal from day one was to reclaim New York’s legacy as the progressive capital that showed the other states and the country the way forward. I think climate change is the issue of our lifetime frankly, and the legacy that we leave our children,” Cuomo said.

Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, was among those who applauded the agreement between the governor and the legislature.

Not only will it be the strongest climate bill in the country, she said, “this new law will spur growth of green jobs across the state for decades.”

Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, said on Twitter that the bill “will be the first law by a major jurisdiction in the world with legally binding targets that are consistent with the Paris temperature goals: net zero GHGs by 2050.

“As I told NY Times, implementing it will be a major lift — but that’s what it will take,” he added.

If the measure becomes law, New York would join California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington, who have all passed bills aiming to get 100 percent of their electricity from carbon-free sources — a category that includes both renewables and nuclear power — within the next 30 years.

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