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NY State Assembly Passes Ambitious Climate Bill, Advocates Seek State Senate Action

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Following a June 1 rally at the state capitol in Albany by hundreds of labor, environmental, community and other advocates, the New York State Assembly passed what Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, called “quite simply, one of the strongest, smartest and most thoughtful pieces of climate legislation the public has ever seen.” Advocates are now working to have the bill introduced in the State Senate.
NY State Capitol; photo by Wally Gobetz

The New York Climate and Community Protection Act is designed to improve the state’s resilience to the impacts and risks of unavoidable climate change.

It would require:

  • Half of the state’s electricity capacity to be produced by renewable energy systems by 2030, as well as:
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030;
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from all human sources by 100 percent by 2050; and
  • An increase in energy efficiency levels from 2012 levels by 23 percent by 2030.

Protection for Disadvantaged Communities
ECC is a member of NY Renews, another group backing the bill, which it called the nation’s “most ambitious climate and climate justice bill” due to its protections for frontline communities and workers.

Along those lines, the bill would create green jobs, protect workers who would lose their jobs due to the state’s carbon-reduction goals, prioritize the safety and health of disadvantaged communities and ensure that activities undertaken under the bill do not increase pollution in or “otherwise disproportionately burden” those communities.

According to Inside Climate News, the jobs in clean energy would have to pay well, involve training and career development opportunities, be available to members of all communities and offer other labor and job standards and protective policies. In addition, “40 percent of the funds generated from any new market scheme established to meet the targets must be used for research and development of energy programs in disadvantaged communities.”

The bill requires:

  • Establishment of a Disadvantaged Communities Working Group whose members are to include representatives of environmental justice communities. The working group would help identify disadvantaged communities so greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced in those areas;
  • A report on barriers to and opportunities for community ownership of services and commodities in disadvantaged communities, including distributed renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and weatherization investments, and zero-emission and low-emission transportation options; and
  • Establishment of “easily-replicated renewable energy projects” in public low-income housing.

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