ALBANY, N.Y. – With the legislative session drawing to a close, a bill that would write New York State’s ambitious clean energy and climate goals into law has gained critical support.
The Climate and Community Protection Act has already passed the state Assembly several times. And now, with a Democratic majority in the state Senate, the bill has reached majority sponsorship in both houses.
According to Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy director for The Nature Conservancy in New York, passage of this bill would make New York a national leader in the efforts to slow global climate change.
“This would be, I believe, the strongest legislation in the nation, with its combined deep emissions reductions targets along with its social justice and worker goals,” says Mahar.
The bill would require the state to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2030, and 100% by 2050, and direct funds to environmentally vulnerable, low-income communities.
Mahar points out the bill requires 40% of the public revenue allocated for achieving renewable-energy targets be invested in communities that have historically borne the heaviest burdens from pollution, and those that are at risk from the impacts of climate change.
“That’s really important, because we need to make sure that those communities that are experiencing the effects already are our first stop when we work to implement these solutions,” says Mahar.
Studies have estimated that putting the state on the path to 100% renewable energy by 2050 would support an average of 150,000 jobs per year over the first decade.
Mahar says it looks like legislators are on track to finish up their work by the end of the session on June 19. She has a two-part message she’d like them to hear before they leave for the summer.
“It would be, ‘Thank you for the great work, keep up the great work,’ and also, ‘Don’t leave Albany without this. This should be the top of the priority list for 2019,'” says Mahar.
Late this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said he considers passage of the Climate and Community Protection Act a priority for this legislative session.