Statement by Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE), All Our Energy, Association for Energy Affordability, Climate Solutions Accelerator of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region, Earthjustice, Fossil Free Tompkins, Frack Action, Mothers Out Front NY, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Network for a Sustainable Tomorrow, New Yorkers for Clean Power, the NY Geothermal Energy Organization (NY-GEO), NYPIRG, Regional Plan Association, Sane Energy Project, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice
As the European Union puts in place plans to accelerate the adoption of heat pumps and energy efficiency in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, New York is poised to make its own leaps forward to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Over the weekend, New York’s Senate and Assembly released their “One-House Budgets” in response to Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposal put forward in January. Now, the Governor and the two legislative bodies will negotiate on a final version, which is due April 1.
Organizations working to eliminate fossil fuel combustion from New York’s buildings were encouraged to see several of their key priorities included in the One-House Budgets. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the Senate demonstrated a clear commitment to implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) with crucial language to factor greenhouse gas emissions into building codes, strengthen appliance standards, and ban fossil fuels in new construction beginning in 2024.
Both the Senate and the Assembly included tax credits to incentivize the installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems, which use renewable energy from the earth to efficiently make our homes comfortable and heat our water. In addition, the Senate and the Assembly included a significant increase in the Environmental Bond Act to fund green buildings, with $1 billion included in the Senate’s budget for “renewable heating and cooling and weatherization for low- and moderate-income households,” and $850 million for “green building projects” in the Assembly’s. The Bond Act will go before voters this November
We urge the Governor, the Senate Leadership, and the Assembly Leadership to adopt these measures in the final budget, and to move towards a $1 billion annual investment in green affordable housing. All of these policies and funding pieces are essential first steps in achieving the mandates of New York’s landmark climate law.
We also urge the inclusion of a critical piece of Governor Hochul’s State of the State and Executive Budget, which would reform antiquated Public Service Law that forces existing utility customers to pay for free gas hookups for new customers. Failure to change this law, known as the “100-foot rule,” means utility customers would continue to see their bills go up to pay for these new connections, estimated to cost almost $1 billion over 5 years.
Recently, 150 organizations urged the legislature to include the Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act (S. 8198/A. 9329) in their budgets. This Act would end the 100-foot rule and direct the Public Service Commission to incorporate the CLCPA’s climate justice and emissions reductions goals in its regulation of energy utilities.
We urge the Governor, Senate, and Assembly to enable an equitable transition to clean, healthy, and climate-friendly buildings by including in the final budget the ban on fossil fuels in new buildings that is in the Senate one-house, ending the 100-foot rule in the final budget, and initiating a timely, just planning process to decommission the gas distribution system by including the language from S. 8198/A. 9329. These changes are also included in the draft scoping plan of the Climate Action Council as necessary to achieve our climate goals in the building sector.
As the tragic impacts of climate change become increasingly frequent and severe in New York, we continue to have the highest annual incidence of premature deaths in the nation from combustion of gas in buildings (almost 1,000 per year in 2017). The impacts of climate change are not felt equally; communities of color and low income are hit first and worst from unhealthy buildings, extreme weather, toxic air, and more. We must advance a bold agenda to end reliance on fossil fuels. We cannot afford to wait.