After a successful closing-session scramble, lawmakers in New York’s state legislature approved an ambitious climate mobilization bill that has been called the state’s own “Green New Deal.”
Officially known as the Climate Leadership And Community Protection Act (CCPA) or SB 6599/AB 8429, the bill would require the state to meet some of the most ambitious climate targets ever proposed in the United States. These targets include 100 percent carbon-free electricity sources by the year 2040 and net-zero carbon emissions across the state’s entire economy by 2050.
The New York City government has already begun working towards its own climate targets, which feature new emissions restrictions on buildings and new developments. However, the CCPA is considered the most ambitious response to climate change adopted by any state or local government.
“The [bill] will virtually eliminate New York’s greenhouse gasses, foster renewable energy production, create green jobs, invest in lower-income communities, and protect our planet,” says Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat, the bill’s sponsor and chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.
“New Yorkers and the world cannot wait any longer. This is the moment for bold, global change–and I’m proud to say New York is leading the nation.”
Both chambers of the state legislature passed CCPA and it now awaits the signature of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called it “the most aggressive climate-change program in the United States of America, period.”
Opponents to the CCPA have noted that the bill was passed without a rigorous fiscal impact study.
“The end-of-session deal to pass the climate bill was so rushed that its sponsors and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will sign it, didn’t even bother to produce a rough estimate of its fiscal and economic impacts,” argues policy analyst Ken Girardin of the Empire Center for Public Policy.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New York currently gets about a third of its net electricity generation from nuclear power, and almost 25 percent from hydropower, which means it’s already getting more than half its electricity from carbon-free sources. However, the largest single source of electricity generation is natural gas, while in 2017, just 1 percent of New York’s electricity was generated by solar.
Requirements to transition the state’s entire energy sector to net-zero emissions will be regulated under this bill and responses to how they mitigate climate change’s impacts on marginalized communities will be an essential policy principle.
Under the CCPA, electric utilities will be forced to purchase around 9,000-megawatts of clean energy by 2035. The capital development and construction work related to converting the existing capacity to clean and renewable sources like wind power will fall under the regulatory purview of this act. According to Girardin, New York’s prevailing wage laws will hand over all related building work to the state’s construction unions.
Other programs and subsidies in the act will only support solar and wind energy. Once signed into law, it will be illegal for hydroelectric power to receive subsidies because wind and energy will not be able to compete if long-term savings and reliability are considered.
Despite the cost concerns, the passage of the CCPA was received with much fanfare by local environmental activists.
“The state Senate has passed a bill that will result in deep economy-wide emission reduction goals and requires 100% clean power by 2040,” said Julie Tighe, the president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “As the White House continues to put fossil fuels first, this legislation is a model for other states to follow.”
The Environmental Advocates of New York praised the bill’s passage, too.
“Today’s action by the State Senate is a critical step forward in addressing global climate change,” a spokesperson said.