New York’s Frontline Communities Due $20 Million in Climate Funds this Year (So Far)

For Immediate Release: June 5, 2020

New York’s Frontline Communities Due $20 Million in Climate Funds this Year (So Far)

Investment would put people to work, help lower energy bills

Albany, NY – Today, leading advocates again urged the state to affirm its commitment to environmental justice and equality by immediately directing $20 million to communities on the frontlines of climate change. This figure equates to 35% of the proceeds received from 2020 Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auctions—$27.8 million from the March auction and $28.3 million from the most recent June auction.

A key provision of New York’s new climate law requires at least 35% of all spending on clean energy be directed to disadvantaged communities. RGGI revenue is supposed to be invested by the state in energy efficiency, renewables, and other carbon pollution reduction programs. Investing $20 million in frontline communities would put people to work, while also cutting carbon pollution and lowering energy bills.

Eddie Bautista, Executive Director at New York City Environmental Justice Alliance said, “In 2019, New York State finally embraced a long overdue standard in passing a sweeping climate law. By dedicating at least 35% of clean energy funding to frontline communities, we are finally recognizing – and beginning to correct – the generational exploitation of low-income communities of color in New York that have been forced to endure environmental and public health disparities as well as climate vulnerabilities. This new enlightened and just standard must be applied to RGGI – a system deeply distrusted by the environmental justice movement. To do otherwise will only feed cynicism of other carbon market mechanisms, such as the latest leap-of-faith proposal called the Transportation and Climate Initiative – a.k.a., RGGI on Wheels.”

Conor Bambrick, Director of Climate Policy at Environmental Advocates of New York said, “Every RGGI auction produces much-needed income for the state, which has wisely decided to invest those funds in programs that lead to greater energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Last year New York passed a sweeping climate law that grants communities on the frontline of climate change a 35% share of all our clean energy spending. You add it all up and it equals at least $20 million for frontline communities this year. With the clear relationship between breathing dirty air and the increased deaths due to the COVID-19 infection, this funding to reduce pollution in frontline communities must be a priority if New York is to be known as a progressive leader.”


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.

The two auctions of 2020 have netted New York $56.1 million, which under the new climate law would mean $20 million should be directed to frontline communities. 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 a mandate that no less than 35% of the state’s clean energy funds be dedicated to initiatives that benefit disadvantaged communities. RGGI auction proceeds fit into the definition of clean energy funds.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) have released proposed regulations governing the state’s participation in RGGI. The DEC draft regulations can be found here. The NYSERDA regulations can be found here.



Annel Hernandez, [email protected]

Brian Keegan, [email protected]