Earthjustice Statement: New York Governor and Legislature Finalize SFY2024 Budget
Major wins for climate action: New York to adopt first-in-nation all-electric new buildings mandate; NYPA authority to build public renewable energy and fossil fuel power plant retirement
Today, New York Governor Hochul and the Legislature finalized the SFY2024 Budget. The final deal includes several key policies and funding initiatives that will further New York’s efforts to address the climate crisis and protect public health and the environment. The SFY2024 budget is the first following the release of New York’s final climate scoping plan to implement the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).
The following statement can be attributed to Liz Moran, New York policy advocate for Earthjustice:
“Thanks to the voices of thousands of New Yorkers who demanded climate action, New York’s budget includes nation-leading policy that will be instrumental for New York to meet the mandates of its landmark climate law. New York’s historic policy requiring all-electric new buildings is a win for New Yorkers’ wallets, health, and reducing climate pollution. As the state with the highest building-sector emissions and most premature deaths in the country from fossil fuel combustion in buildings, this was critical to adopt.
“New York will take leaps forward in bringing renewable energy online and shifting away from fossil fuels, while creating thousands of good jobs, by authorizing the New York Power Authority to build public renewables and shut down their fossil fuel power plants by 2030.
“A well-designed cap-and-invest program has the potential to generate significant revenue for climate action and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, but the details matter. The final deal creates a framework for revenues and important labor protections, but the actual design of the program has been kicked down the road. We urge the Governor to create a program that complies with our climate law mandates to prioritize equity and affordability.
“Earthjustice applauds our many partners and community advocates that won us these strong climate measures, and we look forward to working alongside them, the Governor, and the legislature, to build upon this work the rest of the legislative session.”
While Earthjustice continues to review the final budget for details, we offer our additional thoughts on the following items:
- All-Electric New Buildings: The final deal mandates all-electric new construction starting 2026 for buildings not more than seven-stories in height; all other buildings and commercial buildings over 100,000 square feet starting in 2029. Earthjustice is thrilled this was adopted, but disappointed that the final deal delays action by one-year, locking the state into 250,000 metric tons of climate-heating pollution. We are also concerned about specific exemptions for large commercial buildings until a later date and a carve-out for fuel cells, which could keep big industries on gas longer.
- Build Public Renewables: The final deal provides authorization for the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to build public renewables and direction to close its fossil fuel power plants by 2030.
- Cap-and-invest: The final deal for cap-and-invest includes the creation of the New York Climate Action Fund, which splits revenues between rebates for consumers and small businesses and a new climate investment account (33% and 67% respectively). The program also includes labor and American-made provisions. We are pleased to see these pieces; however, the shape of the actual cap-and-invest program has been left to regulations. Earthjustice urges the Governor and legislature to support provisions in cap and invest that would protect disadvantaged communities, such as facility-specific caps and a prohibition of allowance-trading in disadvantaged communities.
- Additional staffing for Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC): We are thrilled to see additional funding for staffing devoted to DEC and applaud this inclusion. More staffing will be needed at DEC and other agencies to expeditiously implement the range of climate and environmental policies we need to achieve our climate law mandates and needed public health protections.
- Climate-resilient Farming: We are glad to see that funds to expand climate-resilient farming and research are included in the budget. This increased funding will help farmers transition to climate-friendly practices and products.
- $500 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act: We are pleased to see a continued commitment to the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which now totals $5 billion towards New York’s water needs. In the upcoming years, we urge increased funding to align with outstanding annual need.
- $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund: We are pleased to see a continued commitment to the Environmental Protection Fund.
- Addressing childhood lead poisoning: We are pleased that the final budget includes measures to begin to address exposures to lead in housing, which is critical since New York has the highest levels of childhood lead poisoning in the country. These measures would include creating an inventory of older rental housing in communities of concern, which will be subject to proactive lead inspections and remediation to ensure they are free of lead hazards, but many key details are lacking from the legislation.
- $200 million for EmPower Plus: We applaud the increased funding for this program, which will help low-income households retrofit their homes.
- Enhanced service frequency for subway riders: There are reports that $35 million will be provided to Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to improve weekend and night service frequencies on a handful of subway lines. We commend the Legislature, Governor Hochul, and MTA for supporting this program in this year’s budget and hope to see a full rollout to ensure 6 Minute Service systemwide.
The following were not included in the final SFY2024 budget, but should be prioritized for the remainder of the legislative session:
- The NY HEAT Act (S.2016/A.4592), which will save customers $200 million per year by ending outdated and old gas expansion subsidies such as the “100 foot rule.” The provision will save New Yorkers money on their utility bills and reduce building emissions by capping energy bails and giving the Public Service Commission (PSC) the authority and direction to align gas utility regulations and system planning with the CLCPA.
- The Fossil Fuel Subsidy Elimination Act (S.3389), which would eliminate some of New York’s most egregious giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and save the state as much as $330 million annually.
- Green Transit, Green Jobs (A.6414 and S.6089), which will achieve a zero-emissions transit bus fleet by phasing out purchases of new fossil fuel transit buses starting in 2029, and spur the growth of good, family-sustaining jobs as we transition to electric transportation.
- Address lead in housing with S.88/A.1687 and S.2353/A.4820. These bills, respectively, require sellers or lessors of pre-1978 housing to disclose to buyers or renters any knowledge of lead-based paint in residences and to close a loophole exempting insurance companies from covering the costs of lead-exposure related expenses.
- Funding for electrifying the state’s fleet of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. While we acknowledge the $17M appropriated for electrifying the state’s fleet of light-duty vehicles, it is imperative to allocate funds to jumpstart the transition of the state’s non-passenger fleet to zero-emissions.
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