Today, New York Governor Hochul delivered the 2024 State of the State address which included the “Affordable Gas Transition Act,” a policy that will downsize the expensive, dirty gas system, and remove some unfair fossil fuel subsidies that hinder electrification. The State of the State book also outlines funding objectives for New York’s Environmental Bond Act to protect communities from the impacts of climate change; announces continued commitment towards the Clean Water Infrastructure Act; and proposals to reduce utility bills and accelerate renewable energy infrastructure and solar projects.
The following statement is attributed to Liz Moran, Earthjustice New York Policy Advocate:
“We cannot forget that 2023 was the hottest year on record – and New Yorkers were hit hard by it, from dangerous air quality due to Canadian wildfires, unprecedented flooding that left people stranded, and deadly heatwaves. While the Governor’s speech failed to acknowledge these climate impacts, the Governor’s State of the State Book, thankfully, did. We eagerly await details for many proposals outlined today, like her proposals to speed critical expansion of renewables and equitable access to benefits of solar.
“We are especially thrilled and applaud the Governor for embracing key portions of the NY HEAT Act, dubbed in her book as ‘the Affordable Gas Transition Act.’ The NY HEAT Act is crucial to help save New Yorkers money and fight climate change by downsizing the expensive and dirty gas system, eliminating unfair fossil fuel subsidies, and capping utility bills – we hope the Governor’s budget proposal will include these critical features.
“Even with this encouraging sign, the Governor’s State of the State falls short of a true climate agenda, which is what is needed as New Yorkers begin feeling the effects of the climate emergency. Taken together, her proposals still leave much to be desired when it comes to climate and environmental policy and funding. We urge the Governor to ensure her Executive Budget Proposal, due next week, reflects the true gravity of the climate crisis, prioritizes addressing toxic levels of lead and PFAS, and includes funding to replace aging water infrastructure and make agriculture part of our climate solutions.”
Earthjustice supports and urges inclusion of the following for the SFY2024-25 budget:
- The full set of provisions in the NY HEAT Act, which will give the Public Service Commission (PSC) the authority and direction to align gas utility regulations and system planning with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), such as the elimination of the unjust 100-foot rule, which forces every day New Yorkers to pay for the expansion of the gas system to the tune of more than $200 million every year. It would also cap utility bills for low to moderate income New Yorkers to no more than 6% of a household’s income.
- Green Transit, Green Jobs, which will achieve a zero-emissions transit bus fleet by phasing out purchases of new fossil fuel transit buses starting in 2029.
- $100 million for small transit agencies to electrify their bus fleets.
- The Climate Change Superfund Act, to provide the State with much needed climate funding by making climate polluters pay.
- At least $600 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, with a $4 billion total commitment over five years.
- At least $100 million for the Lead Service Line Replacement Program within the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.
- $1 billion for the newly created Climate Action Fund.
- Increased funding and staffing for the Department of Environmental Conservation.
- At least $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund.
Earthjustice opposes any efforts that would undermine the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a Low Carbon Fuel Standard, or any other false solutions in the budget.