Gov. Hochul Wants To Tweak Climate Law Before Energy Bills Explode; Eco-Groups Unhappy
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York is facing stiff opposition from climate groups over her support of a measure that would scale back the impact of a major New York climate law before consumers are hit with massive price hikes, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The state’s cap-and-invest program places a limit on the emissions produced in the state, requiring large emitters to purchase allowances for their activity, in a law modeled after similar initiatives in California, Oregon, and Washington, the Post reported. [emphasis, links added]
The state currently requires that proposed projects estimate their climate impacts across a 20-year period, a far more aggressive measure than the 100-year period typically considered an international standard for which the Hochul administration is now pushing in a bid to keep New Yorkers’ energy bills from skyrocketing.
“What appears to be a dorky accounting change is in fact a severe weakening of the climate law,” Pete Sikora, climate and inequality campaigns director at New York Communities for Change, told the Post.
Without the change, the Hochul administration estimates that New Yorkers could see their heating bills jump by 80%, and the price of a gallon of gas could spike by 61%, according to the Post.
A 61% hike would take New York’s current average gas price of more than $3.48 per gallon to just over $5.61, nearly 80 cents higher than the current California average of $4.83, according to the American Automobile Association.
“When we advance that [cap-and-invest] proposal, we need to look at it through the lens of affordability,” Doreen Harris, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, told the Post. “And ultimately, this topic of our accounting has a very significant impact on costs.”
Green opponents of the bill have argued that the change would dramatically minimize the program’s effectiveness at minimizing methane emissions, which traps 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere, according to the Post. [Methane breaks down much more quickly in the atmosphere than CO2, with a lifespan of around 12 years. –CCD Ed.]
“This change would make methane emissions appear much less damaging than they actually are,” Shiv Soin, co-executive director of youth-focused New York City environmentalist group TREEage, told the Post.
However, the rift between the governor and environmentalists on the cap-and-invest program is unlikely to shake their alliance on a ban on new gas appliances, the Post reported.
The proposed ban was set to pass over the weekend along with the state’s 2024 budget, but the accounting issues stalled the proceedings.
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