UPDATE: June 20, 2019: The New York Assembly passed on Wednesday a climate bill, which now awaits the governor’s signature. The bill is a three-way agreement among the state Senate, Assembly and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The latest version includes changes made earlier this week to cut some pro-labor provisions and give less funding toward social justice efforts.
- New York lawmakers are expected to vote today on a climate bill that would set the state on a path towards carbon neutrality, slashing emissions by 2050 while also focusing energy investments towards disadvantaged communities.
- Lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act over the weekend, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, said Monday, according to WAMC Northeast Radio. The state's legislature is expected to approve the bill.
- While the CCPA would go further than the Green New Deal that Cuomo proposed in January, activists say the legislation remains a "partial victory," as some social justice provisions and worker protections have been removed.
The legislation includes dramatic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and requires the utility sector generate only clean energy by 2040, putting the state in rarified company. But advocates say it does not go as far as they'd hoped, on other issues.
NY Renews, a nonpartisan coalition and major advocate for the legislation, called it "a partial victory for New Yorkers. The fight for true climate justice demands transformative change, and we will bring that fight until our communities win."
The group says a final version of the bill weakens the original intent, "to directly invest resources in vulnerable communities." And while there are requirements for state-financed energy projects to pay union wages, the group said the bill removed "mandates to secure specific worker protections, job growth and training included in previous editions of the Climate and Community Protection Act, which are essential to a just transition off of fossil fuels."
Cuomo is expected to sign the bill soon, as he has signed other three-way agreements with the state’s legislative chamber within a week of their approval, Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director at New York Public Interest Research Group told Utility Dive, adding that “his name is on it.”
Despite the mixed feelings, the group celebrated.
"We won the strongest emissions reduction standards in the country," NY Renews said in a statement.
If passed, New York would join a list of states and other jurisdictions to institute a 100% clean energy requirement, including: California, Nevada, Hawaii, Washington, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
In a blog post, the Natural Resources Defense Council hailed the "agreement on historic, nation-leading climate legislation.
"By adopting a bill that aggressively fights climate change while also prioritizing equity, New York is raising the bar for states in the face of federal backsliding on climate," the group said.
The law sets an economy-wide target of 85% emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2050, while also looking to offset the remaining through carbon sinks. Utilities would need to supply 70% renewable energy by 2030, and 100% carbon-free by 2040.
The law also requires 35% of the state's clean energy program benefits go to "disadvantaged communities." The program originally allocated 40% of funds to go toward environmental justice organizations, according to Moran.
New York, like other states, is looking towards decarbonization as a potential boost for the state's economy — even as clean energy displaces some workers.