The New York League of Conservation Voters, which works to make environmental sustainability a top political and policy priority in New York State, has named Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D- 64th Assembly District) a 2011 "Eco-Star" for his work on energy issues in Albany.
NYLCV's Eco-Star award is presented to those elected leaders who authored critical legislation, lobbied their colleagues and helped broker bipartisan, bicameral solutions to New York's many environmental and energy challenges. Silver was honored for passing the Power NY Act, which clears the way for clean-energy development while protecting overburdened communities; creates green jobs and puts energy-efficiency improvements within reach for more homeowners; and charts a path for rapid growth in solar energy production.
"New York made significant progress on environmental issues in 2011 -- and that progress would not have been possible without Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver," said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "Speaker Silver played a pivotal role on clean energy this year, but also led the way on a wide range of environmental issues including environmental funding and sustainable transportation. We look forward to working with Speaker Silver and all members of the Assembly to build on this year's progress in 2012."
"It is vital that we meet our energy needs in New York by promoting progressive, environmentally responsible policies that encourage clean energy and conservation," Silver said. "We need to invest in green jobs and in the technologies that will allow us to take a leadership role in clean energy policy in the 21st century. The Power NY Act also gives New Yorkers an increased voice in the development of power plants in their communities."
The Power NY Act requires that any proposal for siting power plants that generate at least 25 megawatts - down from the previous 80-megawatt threshold - include detailed analyses of potential health and environmental impacts. It also creates a siting board to review community concerns. The law directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to promulgate standards to regulate power plant emissions, including carbon dioxide, mercury and sulfur dioxide.
The measure also prohibits the New York Power Authority and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) from assuming the lead role in assessing the environmental and health impacts of facilities they construct under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Additionally, the legislation establishes an on-bill recovery program to allow utility customers to repay their Green Jobs-Green New York energy efficiency retrofit loans on their monthly bill.
Under the legislation, NYSERDA must conduct a comprehensive analysis of the costs and environmental benefits of achieving the goal of 2,500 megawatts of in-state solar generation by 2020 and 5,000 megawatts by 2025.