New York, the fourth most populous state in the United States, with the third-largest state economy, has adopted what Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dubbed the Green New Deal of New York, the most aggressive carbon-emissions-reduction goals in the nation.
The law puts the state on the path to derive 100 percent of its electricity from sources that emit no carbon dioxide during generation by 2040.
In addition to the net zero carbon dioxide electricity mandate, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), brokered between Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly, commits New York to net zero carbon emissions, economy-wide, by 2050, with an interim target of reducing emissions 40 percent below the state’s 1990 emission levels by 2030.
Instead of forcing the business community and the state to emit absolutely no carbon dioxide by 2050, the new law requires the state and industry to reduce their emissions by 85 percent, with the remaining 15 percent of the net zero goal coming from carbon offsets such as from planting trees or some yet unidentified restrictions on agricultural emissions.
“Climate change is the issue of our lifetime, frankly,” Cuomo said on public radio on June 18. “I want the most aggressive goal in the country. … I don’t think that we have a realistic option.”
Codifying Executive Actions
Cuomo had already enacted ambitious emissions-reduction targets earlier in his administration through a series of executive actions. After Democrats captured both houses of New York’s state legislature in Albany in the 2018 midterm elections, Cuomo moved to codify those targets into law and ultimately go even farther.
New York’s transition in two decades to 100 percent dependence on intermittent renewable energy, predominantly wind and solar power, is a massive undertaking that will affect all segments of the state’s economy.
Creates Numerous Climate Commissions
The law creates several working groups tasked with carrying out its mandates, such as finding ways to reduce emissions from the millions of vehicles on the state’s roads.
Overseeing the transition will be a 22-member Climate Action Council, composed of the heads of various state agencies and members appointed by the governor, the Senate, and the Assembly.
The oversight structure will be all-encompassing, with an assortment of advisory panels developing a “scoping plan” to deal with buildings and construction, industry, land use and zoning, local governments, transportation, and more. These advisory panels are required to consult with a climate justice working group composed of representatives from low-income communities and environmental justice groups.
Another challenge facing the working groups and all New Yorkers will be securing adequate and reliable batteries to serve as backup sources of power when wind and solar facilities, subject to the whims of nature, fail to produce enough electricity. This will also entail finding ways to dispose of the batteries and their chemical wastes once the batteries die and must be replaced.
Cuomo ‘the Lead Lemming’
During previous sessions of the legislature, Republicans were able to prevent various provisions in the CLCPA, which had passed the Democrat-controlled state assembly, from becoming law when they held a majority in the state Senate until 2018.
Now in the minority, state Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) says Republicans could do little more than warn the public that CLCPA would lead to lost jobs and higher energy prices for the state’s residents and businesses.
“I can’t in good conscience go back to the people I represent and say this is going to be in their best interest,” Flanagan said, according to press reports.
CLCPA will cost jobs and even lives in New York, says Dan Kish, a distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research.
“Gov. Cuomo thinks he’s leading, but he’s really the lead lemming leading his state’s economy off the cliff,” said Kish. “What New York is doing is meaningless except to poor New Yorkers who won’t be able to afford energy and whose jobs will evaporate when businesses hasten their exodus from the state.
“People die from the cold in New York, and this [CLCPA] will make it happen faster and more often,” Kish said.
Special Interests, Not Experts
The various parties shaping CLCPA and the people who will staff its working groups are special interests with no particular expertise in energy matters, says Craig Rucker, president of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).
“The Climate Action Council, along with the various working groups and advisory panels, are composed of special interests who stand to gain politically and financially from the climate scheme Cuomo and his allies have put in place,” Rucker said. “Completely absent are people with any understanding of how the transition to carbon-free energy by 2040 will lead to the deindustrialization of New York.
“Those who don’t flee the state, as many are already doing, will be left to pick up the pieces,” said Rucker.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and a senior policy analyst with CFACT.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D): https://www.governor.ny.gov/; https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
State Sen. John Flanagan (R-Smithtown): https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/john-j-flanagan; [email protected]