New York businesses are launching a $1 million campaign to push Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers to ease anti-pollution laws battling climate change — arguing the regs are too costly to them and consumers.
The groups — representing many of the largest Empire State employers — gripe that New York’s 2019 “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” requiring greenhouse gases be cut 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050 could lead to blackouts and soaring electric bills and have “adverse impacts” on economic growth.
“New York is at a crossroads,” warned Heather Mulligan, who leads one of the groups, the Business Council of New York State, on Tuesday.
“Let’s be clear: It is essential to push a green economy. It is also essential to make sure we can reach our environmental and clean energy goals without severely damaging New York’s families and businesses as well as jeopardizing the reliability of New York’s energy infrastructure,” she said.
Dottie Gallagher of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership added bluntly, “Continuing to implement climate policy without regard to energy affordability and reliability is guaranteed to raise prices on all New Yorkers, weaken our economy, and accelerate New York’s nation-worst outmigration trend.”
Some of the new green-energy requirements include phasing out fossil-fuel-using vehicles such as school buses and commercial trucks in favor of electric ones.
Most construction equipment using fossil fuels must eventually hit the highway, too, while many buildings will have to limit their greenhouse gas emmissions.
In May, New York controversially became the first state to even ban gas stoves from new residential building construction.
Kathy Wylde, the head of the Big Apple’s chief business group, the Partnership for New York City, noted in a statement that her organization supported the state’s 2019 climate-change law — but said it needs more cautious “implementation paths” to “protect the economic vibrancy of the state.”
The statewide coalition urging the slowing down of the new restrictions also includes the chambers of commerce in Westchester County, Rochester and Albany.
A spokesman for the Business Council said the campaign has already secured “six-figure” amounts in funding for the effort and is aiming to raise more than $1 million by the end of October.
The targeted green legislation was inked by ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and has since been embraced by his successor, Hochul. She recently OK’d the construction of new transmission lines that will bring in substantial amounts of electricity from dams in Canada and the state’s mountainous counties as part of greener efforts.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan), who co-sponsored the 2019 law, groused of critics, “I wish they would use their resources to help us transition to clean energy rather than throw up roadblocks to the implementation of a law meant to save our planet for future generations.
“If the business community has concerns, they should speak to legislators about addressing them before wasting money on a campaign,” he said. “Addressing climate change can’t wait, but I think my colleagues are open to hearing concerns about the implementation of the law.”
Hochul spokeswoman Katy Zielinski said in a statement, “Governor Hochul understands that we are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation that can do anything about.
“The Administration is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure we’re building a clean and reliable energy grid, preserving energy affordability, and creating good-paying jobs and a competitive business environment.”
The operator of New York’s power grid warned earlier this year that there may not be enough electrical generation downstate during heat waves in future summers with the expected retirement of a series of heavily polluting power plants that are only fired up during times of high demand.
Regulations requiring the older plants to pay for expensive improvements that would slash emissions or shut down were approved when Cuomo was governor.
Cuomo also spearheaded the controversial campaign to shut down one of New York’s biggest generators of carbon-free electricity, the Indian Point nuclear power plant, in spring 2021, leading to an increase in gas-fired power production.
“We are a worldwide leader in environmental initiatives and green energy policies, and we must and will continue to be the leader,” Mulligan said. “But, we must also look at the policies and determine what is feasible, what is affordable, and what is best for the future of the state.”
John Ravitz, head of the Business Council of Westchester, said, “No business sector will be unaffected if fossil fuels are prematurely banned.
“The simple fact is that New York is way behind schedule in building the renewable energy infrastructure that must be created to achieve the goals that we support.”
Discussions with the state has to “include transition plans that include continuing to use natural gas to support the energy system until the renewable energy infrastructure is in place,” Ravitz added.