Gutting NY’s Climate Law
S.6030 (Parker)/A.6039 (Barrett)
This bill seeks to gut New York’s landmark climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and roll back hard-won provisions for accurately accounting for the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. If this bill passes, it will profoundly diminish the state’s ability to establish strong emissions reductions regulations, and will undercut the state’s ability to raise substantial revenue through a pollution pricing program, including cap and invest.
The CLCPA is based on the premise that in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state, the Department of Environmental Conservation must have a true accounting of how much climate pollution is emitted each year. To do that, DEC needs to have a common standard for comparing greenhouse gasses. Therefore, the CLCPA relies on a 20-year global warming potential standard for creating carbon dioxide equivalency, which embraces the scientific evidence that methane does the most climate damage in the first 20 years after it is emitted. As Dr. Robert Howarth, a Cornell researcher and professor and member of NY’s Climate Action Council wrote, “Methane and carbon dioxide affect the climate on fundamentally different time scales.” According to the UN IPCC, the half life of methane in the atmosphere is only 12 years. Taking this into account when designing the method to account for methane’s impacts is critical to making New York’s emission reduction goals real.
Instead of heeding solid science, S.6030 would direct the state to account for methane emissions on a weaker, less accurate 100 year timeline–a timeline more appropriate for carbon dioxide emissions. A 100-year global warming potential standard would—on paper only—make methane emissions appear less damaging than they actually are, which would both reduce the amount of reductions the state would have to impose to meet our goals, and decrease the amount of revenue collected under a pollution pricing system (the revenues from which could be steered toward projects and programs to help meet our goals).
The bill also excludes carbon dioxide emissions as a result of “the combustion of... biomass and biofuels,” from the calculation to determine greenhouse gas emissions and limits in the CLCPA. There is no justification for categorically excluding such emissions, especially given the well-known health impacts of at least some biofuels, as recognized in the Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan (see Scoping Plan, page 101). Weakening the law’s existing definitions and measures calls into question New York’s climate justice efforts moving forward. Catskill Mountainkeeper opposes this bill.
This bill amends Environmental Conservation Law and Public Service Law to direct the state to adopt a 100 year global warming potential standard, unreasonably limits the amount of information that can be considered by the state when producing the statewide greenhouse gas emissions report, and exempts carbon dioxide emissions from from the combustion of “sustainable biomass and biofuels” (undefined) being included in the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits.