The New York State Legislature just passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law. This measure contains new mandates for the state to eliminate net carbon emissions in the next thirty years, by 2050, equal to just 15 percent of the 1990 levels. By 2040, just two decades from now, 100 percent of the state’s electricity generation is supposed to come from “renewable” resources, such solar and wind power.

The new law also authorizes numerous state agencies to issue regulations to achieve greenhouse gas emission limits that govern nearly every aspect of the private economy, including energy, health, housing, transportation, agriculture, economic development, and utilities. And, the new climate law also must be considered when agencies issue any permits, contracts, licenses “and other administrative approvals and decisions.”

Climate change policy now governs everything in the state of New York.New York State’s energy future: lighting candles?

A spokesman for the state Senate expressed the objective of legislation like this, when he stated the “commitment” for New York to be “a national leader in addressing climate change.” Professional spokespersons usually choose their words carefully. “Addressing” climate change is easy; affecting or altering it is something else entirely. In other words, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is a mix of ego and symbolism – nothing more, since it will have no practical or noticeable benefit, e.g., the sea levels in Long Island Sound will not be affected.

Instead, New York’s climate law will have a pernicious effect on the state’s economy and competitiveness by forcing companies to transition from fossil fuels, including cleaner sources such as natural gas, far sooner than is feasible or wise. Deadlines and mandates that force-feed more expensive and less reliable energy sources will increase costs to every business and homeowner – both of which already pay the nation’s highest property taxes. But, not to worry, say the bill’s sponsors. The new law attempts to mitigate this “transition of the state’s energy sector” by ensuring the creation of “good jobs that protect workers and communities.” Feel better?

Despite the law’s vacuous promises, state mandates that increase the cost of energy also will accelerate the exodus of both businesses and homeowners from New York to less expensive states, which has long been occurring. What manufacturing business, for example, which is heavily reliant on energy, would consider expanding – or locating – in the state? The governor and legislature have repeatedly signaled their intention to deny cheap and available energy for more expensive and scarce renewable sources.

New York State’s race to the bottom of this climate madness did not begin with this absurd legislation.

The state literally sits on centuries’ worth of natural gas deposits in the Marcellus shale and Utica shale regions in upstate, northwest of New York City. But, the state banned hydro-fracturing more than a decade ago and Gov. Cuomo has kept the ban in place at the insistence of state and national environmental extremist organizations funded by millionaires and billionaires. Plentiful, cheap energy is therefore off-limits to middle-income and working-class New Yorkers, which means the forgoing of thousands of jobs and tax revenue. By contrast, the energy economies of nearby and neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio are thriving from hydro-fracturing, not to mention North Dakota and other states.

With hydro fracturing banned in New York, the governor also is closing the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in 2021, an obvious source of clean energy that serves downstate. Environmental groups then targeted new construction of natural gas pipelines to transport natural gas from out of state. As CFACT has written, Gov. Cuomo has dutifully complied, including his bureaucracy’s recent rejection of the proposed Williams pipeline that would bring new energy supplies to New York City and suburban Long Island.

The state’s refusal—i.e., Gov. Cuomo’s refusal—to allow more natural gas pipelines has already negatively affected suburban counties like Westchester, just outside of New York City, where a moratorium was imposed on new connections to homes and buildings. This also has led to a halt on new development, including construction of low-income housing. With the more recent denial of the Williams pipeline, suburbanites and businesses in Queens and Long Island will be negatively impacted in short order.

Is there hope for my home state of New York? Conditions are likely to get worse for the state’s residents before there is any chance of turning the corner and adopting a more sensible, scientifically based energy policy.

Gov. Cuomo, who just began his third term of office, is clearly doing the bidding of the environmental organizations. Both houses of the state legislature are now overwhelmingly controlled by a majority of Democrats, most of whom embrace environmental extremism as their religion. The new climate law is just the beginning of their crusade.

As more middle class New Yorkers escape higher energy and other costs by departing for other states, as the saying goes, will the last one leaving please turn out the lights – or, more likely, blow out the candles?

Author

  • Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.