In the summer of 2019 Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) which was described as the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country when Cuomo signed the legislation. The legislation set up the Climate Action Council to figure out how to implement the rule. This post summarizes the first meeting of the Council.
I am following the implementation of the CLCPA closely because its implementation affects my future as a New Yorker. Given the results for other jurisdictions that have implemented renewable energy resources to meet targets at far lower levels I am convinced that the costs in New York will be enormous and my analyses have supported that concern. The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.
The politicians who passed the CLCPA mandated a reduction of New York’s GHG emissions to 60 percent of 1990 emissions levels in 2030 and that emissions from electricity production would be zero by 2040. However, they just assumed that their targets could be met and only mandated that two years of the effective date of the legislation the Climate Action Council would prepare and approve a scoping plan outlining the recommendations for attaining the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits in accordance with the schedule. In other words, this is a classic cart before the horse legislation example.
The Albany Times Union described the first meeting of the Climate Action Council as “uneventful” with cordial interactions, they did note “remarks by members signaled the tough questions the group will be grappling with in coming months and years”. “How do we assess the cost of all this?” asked Donna DeCarolis, president of National Fuel Gas, a western New York energy company.
The New York Climate Act web page appears to be the new face of the program. It includes a sign-up link to be on the contact list for new developments, and a fact sheet for the Climate Act. There also is a general description of the Climate Action Council and a list of members. Finally, there is a link to the first meeting materials and a recording of the session.
March 3, 2020 Climate Action Council Meeting
The web page for the Climate Action Council included meeting materials for the first meeting:
Update March 6, 2020: There is a video of the meeting available at the Climate Action Council website.
The agenda had the following items listed:
- Welcome and Introductions
- Co-Chair Remarks
- Presentation: Climate Science Considerations, Radley Horton, Columbia University
- Presentation: Climate Act Requirements
- Climate Act Goals
- Advisory Panels
- Next Steps
The meeting presentation was a power point covering the agenda items and the climate act requirements presentation. I am not going to reproduce all the slides in this presentation but will call your attention to some items. The slide entitled New York’s Climate Leadership list five items including “Groundbreaking Environmental Support: Restore Mother Nature Bond Act – $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” Bond Act to restore our state’s environment and improve resiliency.” I think that the presentation should have noted that this is a proposed bond and has not been approved by the public. For a state that has serious water quality problems my personal opinion is that the majority of those bond revenues should go to those problems rather than climate initiatives but only time will tell how that works out.
One thing that caught my eye was the slide entitled major roles and responsibilities that listed the following items:
- Climate Action Council: Prepare and approve a scoping plan of recommendations to achieve 40×30, 85×50, carbon neutrality
- Climate Justice Working Group: Establish criteria to identify and develop a list of disadvantaged communities
- Just Transition Working Group: Conduct a study on job creation and workforce disruption related to the transition to a low carbon economy
- PSC: Establish a program requiring load serving entities meet 70×30 and 100×40 targets
- DEC: Promulgate the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit regulation; establish a value of carbon; issue annual reports on statewide greenhouse gas emissions; promulgate regulations to implement the scoping plan
- All Agencies: Implement strategies to reduce emissions; consider consistency with the Act in agency decisions
The climate justice working group will develop criteria for and list of disadvantaged communities and will report on barriers and opportunities for clean energy. They will “ensure no increase in co-pollutant emissions or disproportionate burden on disadvantaged communities” and “DEC shall establish a community air monitoring pilot program in at least 4 disadvantaged communities”. There also is a requirement to “Invest or direct available and relevant programmatic resources in a manner designed to achieve a goal for disadvantaged communities to receive 40% of overall benefits of spending on:
- Clean energy and energy efficiency programs
- Projects or investments in the areas of housing, workforce development, pollution reduction, low-income energy assistance, energy, transportation, and economic development
This legislation sets very aggressive targets to combat the supposed existential threat of climate change. Nevertheless, the politicians still established these requirements which dilute resources from the primary goal and may spend money in ways that might not be the most cost-effective way to reach the targets.
I look forward to more information about the PSC responsibility to “establish a program requiring load serving entities meet 70×30 and 100×40 targets. On the face of it, this is puzzling. New York is de-regulated and the load serving entities do not generate much electricity so what are they supposed to do? As a cynical New York resident, I suspect requiring them to meet the targets could ultimately transfer blame when things don’t work out.
Dr. Horton’s presentation “Climate Hazards, Impacts and Opportunities” included the usual litany of scary statistics and catastrophic projections used as rationale for the CLCPA. One of my pragmatic environmental principles is the Baloney Asymmetry Principle first defined by Alberto Brandolini: “The amount of energy necessary to refute BS is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” There is so much BS in this presentation that I could spend weeks listing the caveats to claims, showing how data shown is often cherry picked to show the worst case, and how some of the information is mis-leading. A simple list of examples of each will suffice. The sea level trends and projections slide should be caveated to note that there are plenty of data showing none of the acceleration of sea-level rise that would be needed to reach the scary projections shown. There are several references to climatic trends but note that the figures start in 1930, 1950 and 1958 which suggests that the starting points were cherry-picked to maximize the effect. The global temperatures projections slides uses representative concentration pathway 8.5 which is mis-leading “The misuse of RCP 8.5 involves the transformation of what is more accurately described as a worst-case scenario into the sole ‘business as usual’ or baseline scenario that has become a centerpiece of climate policy discussions.”
So it begins, stay tuned.