Monday, April 10, 2023

Climate part of state budget delay

Gov Kathy Hochul, wearing red, at a podium

It looks like it could be another week or more before we have a state budget, which was due April 1. Gov. Kathy Hochul in a statement today said she is submitting a bill to the legislature to extend the budget deadline to April 10.

“New Yorkers are concerned about public safety, the rising cost of housing, and ensuring high-quality schools for all our kids, and any budget deal must make progress on these core issues,” Hochul said. “I have been negotiating in good faith with the legislature, but it is clear there is more work to be done before we reach an agreement.”

Hochul does not mention climate change in her statement, but that’s another issue coming up in budget negotiations. Energy Committee Chair Sen. Kevin Parker, wants to change the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Environmental groups say the changes are not for the better.

Parker proposed legislation that would have New York use a 100-year global warming potential instead of the law’s current 20-year global warming potential. It would also not count methane emissions in the state’s greenhouse gas inventory. What is global warming potential? The University of California describes it as a measurement of “how effective each gas is at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere” compared to carbon dioxide. That helps us “better understand how a gas warms our planet.” For example, over a century, one ton of methane has the same global warming impact as 28-34 tons of carbon dioxide. Over the shorter timeframe—20 years—one ton of methane is about the same as 84-86 tons carbon dioxide.

Most of the United States uses the 100-year global warming potential, but New York passed the stricter timeline in its climate law. In the bill’s justification text, the proposed change would bring the state in alignment with most others and would save taxpayers’ money. It does not say how much. But environmental organizations and some lawmakers oppose the bill. NY Renews, an environmental coalition, said it would “pave the way for polluting corporations to emit without consequence.”

Sen. Pete Harckham, who chairs the environmental conservation committee, said the proposed changes during budget negotiations are “ill-advised and ill-timed.”

“Climate science has clearly evolved to demonstrate that methane is the immediate threat and heats the planet faster than carbon dioxide,” Harckham said. “That’s why members of the Climate Action Council toiled hundreds of hours to determine that the 20-year accounting, not the 100-year accounting, is the appropriate policy for New York to take.”

We’ll see how it unfolds during the next week of budget talks.

Gov. Kathy Hochul. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

One Response

  1. Pat Smith says:

    How ironic that Senator Harckham calls the proposed budget changes “ill timed and ill advised”. The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community benefit act was enacted as part of the 2020-21 budget. Most people were not even aware of this huge governmental overreach until well after the budget was adopted. This led to the creation of 94-c and ORES. These two changes have led to the state taking away much local governments ability to use home rule to decide where these large scale solar facilities can be sited. Also of interest in this years budget is a proposed amendment to the states Real Property Tax Law 575-b, known as Part N. This amendment would essentially remove assessment authority for large-scale renewable energy projects from local control and give it to the state. From 94-c and ORES to the Housing Compact and now potentially Part N, the pattern of attack on home rule is evident. In his annual letter to share holders, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon suggested that the US government and corporations involved in climate change initiatives may have to seize citizens private property to reach their goals. Dimon stated that “governments, businesses and NGOs may need to invoke eminent domain in order to get the adequate investments fast enough for grid, solar, wind and pipeline initiatives. There is concern that NYS will use the New York Power Authority to site more solar facilities. NYPA is a public utility vs. a developer who sells power to the public utility. As a public utility NYPA could invoke eminent domain to site solar facilities where ever they see fit. A seven member Board of Trustees directs the operations of NYPA, with each member appointed by the governor.

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