For Immediate Release: December 7, 2020
Those on the frontlines of climate change should see $44.2 million under newly updated regulations
Albany – Last week, New York State adopted final regulations governing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that prioritizes communities on the front lines of climate change. Specifically, these require New York to invest 35% of all RGGI proceeds in frontline, environmental justice, and disadvantaged communities.
It was also announced that New York will receive a total of $126.2 million in proceeds from RGGI auctions held in 2020. Applying the 35% standard to those funds means $44.2 million should be earmarked to communities on the front lines of climate change.
Conor Bambrick, Director of Climate Policy at Environmental Advocates NY said, “After successfully finalizing a new set of rules for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the administration still has some work to do before the end of the year in the fight against climate change. First, the State should immediately dedicate $44.2 million that has been collected from polluters to communities on the front lines of the climate crisis and reject any attempt to use these clean energy funds to plug budget holes. We’d also like to see them update their plans to make sure 35% of all clean energy spending go to frontline communities.
There is still time to get this job done and head into 2021 with more momentum behind efforts to fight climate change with equity and justice.”
Annel Hernandez, Associate Director at New York City Environmental Justice Alliance said, “While we continue to shape climate policy in New York through the implementation of the historic Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), we want to ensure that frontline and environmental justice communities are supported and funded to realize their vision of local just transitions through community energy planning, energy efficiency, community-owned solar, and more.”
As a participant in the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), New York sets limits on power plant carbon pollution. For each ton of pollution, power plants are charged a fee for emitting that pollution into the air. The revenue is then supposed to be invested by the state in energy efficiency, renewables, and other carbon pollution reduction programs.
In 2020, RGGI has netted New York $126.2 million, which under the state’s climate law would mean $44.2 million should be directed to communities on the frontlines of climate change. This figure equates to 35% of the proceeds received from all of the 2020 RGGI auctions.
Over the course of the program, $228 million (more than 16%) of RGGI funds have been transferred by NYSERDA to the state General Fund to fill budget holes, depriving New Yorkers of funding that could have lowered energy bills and created good green jobs. Facing potential budget shortfalls, there is great concern that these funds will again be used outside of their intended purpose.