Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright announced the passage of legislation to address the impact of climate change in New York.
"The Assembly has been a longstanding advocate for more environmentally conscious and sustainable public policies," said Speaker Heastie. "In recent years, the growing scale and economic impact of extreme weather events have proven that we must act now to minimize our carbon footprint and adopt best practices to protect the future of our state."
The New York State Climate and Community Protection Act (A.10342, Englebright) would help put New York on track to minimize the adverse effects of climate change through a combination of measures aimed at reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions and improving the state's resiliency against future extreme weather events.
"New Yorkers have witnessed firsthand the devastating loss of life, homes and livelihoods caused by Superstorm Sandy and tropical storms Irene and Lee," said Assemblymember Englebright. "These extreme weather events are related to climate change. These storms, the migration of lobsters to cooler waters, new pests, and threats to public health all point to the undeniable fact that climate change is happening now, not in some distant future. This legislation includes provisions to both minimize the potential impacts of climate change and address the impacts that cannot be mitigated. It will also advance environmental justice and provide new well-paying jobs in the field of clean energy."
The bill would require the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to:
To ensure efficiency in the State's ongoing transition to renewable energy systems, the bill would require that of the total electric capacity regulated by the Public Service Commission, the Power Authority of the State of New York and the Long Island Power Authority, the amount produced by renewable energy systems be gradually increased to reach fifty percent by 2030. It would also maximize the creation and preservation of a qualified workforce in renewable energy systems by creating standards for maintaining job quality and worker training programs.
The bill would prioritize the health and safety of residents in all of the state's regions by creating a Working Group of representatives from environmental justice communities, DEC, and the Departments of Health and Labor to help identify disadvantaged communities for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in these areas.
"Climate change presents a wide range of challenges that we must work together on to ensure the best possible future for our state," said Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes, chair of the committee on Governmental Operations. "This bill addresses the very serious consequences of climate change and helps find ways to reduce our environmental impact."
"Ensuring that New York State is shifting towards renewable energy sources as swiftly as possible is a key component to reducing the impacts of climate change," said Assemblymember Paulin, chair of the committee on Energy. "This legislation will help encourage the use of cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy and help reduce the state's carbon footprint."
"In addition to setting our state on a more sustainable path to an environmentally sound future, this legislation offers tremendous opportunities to preserve and expand our workforce," said Assemblymember Titus, chair of the committee on Labor. "As our state begins to rely more on renewable energy, the demand for quality skilled jobs will also increase, offering hardworking New York families the job security they need and deserve."