Environmental Advocates and NYC Environmental Justice Alliance Respond to State's Proposed Climate Fund Regs

For Immediate Release: April 29, 2020

Environmental Advocates and NYC Environmental Justice Alliance Respond to State's Proposed Climate Fund Regs

Albany, NY – Today, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released proposed regulations governing the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The draft regulations can be found here.

"With the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York State must pursue stronger emissions reductions standards and increased clean energy investments in low-income communities and communities of color.  We are encouraged by the State meeting its goals of closing the peaker plant loopholes and limiting pollution in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. While we continue to have deep reservations about cap-and-trade systems, we are glad to see stronger regulations,” said Annel Hernandez, Associate Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

“The regulations released today by the DEC are a welcome first step and we are encouraged that that they are moving forward in these challenging times. The proposal lowers the pollution levels from all powerplants—eliminating a harmful loophole that allowed peaker power plants in disadvantaged communities to avoid compliance with the state’s carbon pollution rules. We also look forward to the changes that NYSERDA committed to make to their regulations so that at least 35% of all spending on clean energy projects be directed to disadvantaged communities,” said Conor Bambrick, Director of Climate Policy at Environmental Advocates of New York.

Background:

Under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), carbon pollution from power plants in participating states – including New York – is capped. For each ton of carbon emitted, power plants must purchase an “allowance.” The supply of those allowances is capped, and allowances are sold at quarterly auctions. The proceeds from those auctions are then distributed to the RGGI states with an understanding that a portion of those funds will be invested in energy efficiency, renewables, and other carbon abatement programs. Over the life of the program, RGGI has raised more than $1.3 billion for New York.

Last year’s passage of a sweeping climate law has placed New York on a path to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in all sectors. One of the key provisions of the law is that no less than 35% of the state’s clean energy funds be dedicated to initiatives that benefit disadvantaged communities. RGGI auction proceeds fit the definition of clean energy funds.

Earlier this year in budget testimony, Alicia Barton, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), committed to updating their RGGI regulations and having them conform with the requirements of the climate law.

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