No More Gas Stations: Watchdog Report

What 80x50 means

Recently, Governor Cuomo committed to reducing carbon pollution 80 percent by 2050, and generating half of our energy from clean renewables by 2030 – strong goals we’ve been fighting for. It’s a game-changer. But it can also be difficult to understand. So when we say 80x50, what does it all mean?

In simplest terms, an 80 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2050 means that in less than 34 years, there are no more gas stations in New York State. It means in that time we have completely weaned ourselves off dirty fossil fuels – our transportation, our homes and buildings, and our infrastructure will be run and heated by clean electricity from resources like solar and wind.

Once codified, every decision the State makes, every grant funded, and every rule and regulation enacted, will be done so through the lens of: does this move us toward our climate goals or keep us from achieving them?

It will end bad decisions like the reopening of dirty power plants, or expanding the fossil fuel infrastructure.

It makes achieving 80x50 a requirement…and failing to do so illegal. 

A major push of ours in 2016 will be codification of this goal. We will be working closely with the Governor’s team, as well as your state representatives to pass this legislation. Stay tuned.

Two big wins

Microbeads: We cannot say thank you enough. But let us try one more time: THANK YOU! In 2015, Environmental Advocates fought for the statewide Microbead-Free Waters Act. Hundreds of you told your legislators to act. When the state Senate failed to pass this bill, we held them accountable, through letters to the editorOPEDs, and direct advocacy. Our work with local officials led to several bans, which prompted Congress to pass U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill to #BanTheBead. Think about this: as dysfunctional as Congress has become, they were still able to pass legislation New York’s state Senate leadership would not.

We’re proud to share that President Obama signed the ban into law over the holidays! It would not have happened without the buildup of local pressure, which you helped make happen. 

EPF: The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is an incredible program that, for more than two decades, has created green jobs, supported local recycling programs, protected land, and conserved parkland. After years of advocacy, Governor Cuomo announced today that he is proposing a $300 million EPF – the most ever invested in the program, which will be sustained annually.  Environmental Advocates and our partners will work with state legislators in the weeks ahead to ensure this full investment is made in the final budget later this spring. See our statement here.

Clearing the Air

Last week, Environmental Advocates released our new report, Clearing the Air: Assessing and Addressing the Impacts of Short-Changing New York’s Air RegulatorsOur report highlights how despite significant gains in air quality over several decades, New York is at a tipping point due to budget cuts and years of level spending that risks increased exposure to air pollutants that undermine public health and shorten lives.

Key findings in the report include:

  • Statewide, there has been a 25 percent reduction in air monitors since 2009, dropping from an already low 74 to just 55.
  • Metropolitan areas such as Binghamton and Elmira have no local air quality monitors, while other areas with significant congestion-related emissions, such as New York City, have too few.
  • Federal and State clean air operating funds have been reduced by 34 percent, from more than $45 million in SFY 2007-08, to under $30 million in the current fiscal year.

Clearing the Air builds on our 2013 report, Turning a Blind Eye to Illegal Pollution, which documented how budget cuts and flat lines have forced the state to increasingly rely on polluters to hold themselves accountable.

Clean air funds, and preventing any more delays to the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006, will be a priority of ours in the upcoming state budget process. We’ll keep you posted on opportunities to make your voice heard!

Watchdogging the state budget

Next Wednesday, Governor Cuomo will deliver his joint State of the State and budget address, where he will outline all of his proposals. After this, the state Legislature convenes hearings and introduces their own proposals, with an agreement to be finalized by April 1. Environmental Advocates reviews the entire State Budget through a green lens. Two years ago, for instance, we caught a proposal to roll back the state’s pesticides reporting law, which we stopped from happening. And last year, our campaign to #FixOurPipes led to the first investment in our communities' drinking and wastewater infrastructure in years.

This year, we will be keeping a close eye on several issues like:

  • Implementation of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006. It was to take effect in 2010, but has been delayed by the state Senate ever since.
  • Child Safe Products Act. Groups are urging Governor Cuomo to include this common-sense kids health bill, which enjoys overwhelming support, in his proposal.
  • $800 million to #FixOurPipes. Last year’s investment was a huge start, and the Governor proposed an additional $100 million yesterday. We look forward to working with the Governor and legislators to identify additional resources, such as from state bank settlement funds. 
  • No more RGGI raids! The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the state’s premier carbon abatement program. The Governor and legislators should not raid these funds. They should build on its success, not redirect funds away from their legally intended purpose.
  • Clean air funds. The DEC’s Division of Air Resources has experts tasked with protecting public health who deserve the resources necessary to hold polluters accountable.