New York Needs a Climate Action Plan

Nations across the globe, including the U.S., are putting together bold new plans for climate action. The push is on for agreements later this year in Paris. The Pope will be in New York this September delivering a major speech and policy document for Catholics about the importance of action on climate change.

It is sad with all the momentum that New York State's efforts are lagging. Poor policy choices like the recent raid of the state’s premier carbon abatement program – are a consequence of New York lacking a climate action plan.

On Friday’s Capitol Pressroom, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens told host Susan Arbetter that New Yorkers should not hold their breath waiting on the Cuomo Administration’s plan.

His remarks came on the heels of a leading Senator disputing climate science because last winter was cold.

I invite you to listen to Commissioner Martens’ entire interview.

On making New York’s impending fracking ban permanent: "I don't think there's any such thing in the environmental world as permanent…information changes."

On New York becoming part of the oil patch, the commissioner justified the DEC’s decision to grant a “negative declaration” (meaning no environmental impact) for a crude oil heating facility at the Port of Albany, because the permit was strictly limited to air pollution. That decision and subsequent rationale ignore the far-reaching climate, public health and environmental impacts statewide that Tar Sands will have if he allows it.

And on the status of implementing a climate action plan that will finally operationalize Governor Cuomo’s prior commitment to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050: “I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

Few states have suffered the human or economic toll of climate change like New York. Increasingly erratic weather events and extreme storms have taken dozens of lives in recent years, and cost the state billions in damages and lost economic activity.

When the Cuomo Administration makes decisions in the absence of a climate plan, it leads to bad public policy.

In the last state budget, in addition to Cuomo’s climate raid, state leaders once again delayed implementation of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006. Another decision exacerbating our climate challenge is the utility customer-funded bailout of the Dunkirk coal plant

Additionally, in his Capitol Pressroom interview, Commissioner Martens stated the Administration's focus is action, yet they have fallen behind schedule on implementing the very same actionable items they reference.

Finalization of the State Energy Plan is now more than two years late.

Release of the details of the state’s Clean Energy Fund, as part of the Reforming Energy Vision (REV), was expected Monday, April 27th after numerous delays. We received word on the same day the Commissioner's comments aired that it was delayed yet again. 

And Commissioner Martens and his colleagues in the administration have even complained to the federal government that the Obama Administration’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants is too strong, strengthening efforts by science-deniers like Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky), who right now is advancing legislation to block those standards by indefinitely delaying implementation of the rule and inciting states to ignore federal law.

Environmental Advocates is working with scientists and legal scholars to develop and ensure the introduction of comprehensive energy and climate legislation. 

We are doing this because New York needs a strong climate action plan and the nation needs a strong New York to address the impacts.