New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) has a legal mandate for New York State greenhouse gas emissions to meet the ambitious net-zero goal by 2050. The Climate Action Council is responsible for preparing the Scoping Plan that will “achieve the State’s bold clean energy and climate agenda”. On March 3 the Council finally got around to having a meeting to discuss the plan for 2022 (recording here). Subsequently they announced the public hearing schedule. The purpose of this post is to publicize those hearings, emphasize the need for public involvement, and, for anyone who wants to submit comments but hesitates to submit them directly for whatever reason, to offer the opportunity for me to submit your comments anonymously.
I have written extensively on implementation of the Climate Act because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy outstrip available renewable technology such that it will adversely affect reliability and affordability, risk safety, affect lifestyles, will have worse impacts on the environment than the purported effects of climate change in New York, and cannot measurably affect global warming when implemented. 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.
Climate Act Background
The Climate Act establishes a “Net Zero” target by 2050. The Climate Act requires the Climate Action Council to “[e]valuate, using the best available economic models, emission estimation techniques and other scientific methods, the total potential costs and potential economic and non-economic benefits of the plan for reducing greenhouse gases, and make such evaluation publicly available” in the Scoping Plan. The integration analysis developed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and its consultants was used to develop the Draft Scoping Plan that was released for public comment on December 30, 2021. At this time they are accepting public comments on the draft through June 10, 2022.
The press release announcement of the public hearing schedule said that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Co-Chairs of the Climate Action Council will host eight in-person hearings in locations across the State, as well as two virtual hearings. In-person hearings will also be live-streamed to allow for remote viewing of the proceedings. “All persons, organizations, corporations, and government agencies are encouraged to attend the public hearings and to submit oral or written comments.”
|Climate Action Council Public Hearing Schedule|
|Tuesday, April 5, 2022||4:00 PM||Bronx||Bronx Community College|
Roscoe Brown Student Center
Hall of Fame Play House
2155 University Avenue
Bronx, NY 10453
|Wednesday, April 6, 2022||4:00 PM||Brookhaven||Brookhaven Town Hall|
1 Independence Hill
Farmingville, NY 11738
|Tuesday, April 12, 2022||4:00 PM||Binghamton||Binghamton University |
85 Murray Hill Road
Vestal, NY 13850
|Thursday, April 14, 2022||4:00 PM||Albany||Empire State Plaza|
Meeting Room 6
Albany, NY 12242
|Tuesday, April 26, 2022||4:00 PM||Syracuse||SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry |
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210
|Wednesday, April 27, 2022||3:30 PM||Buffalo||Buffalo & Erie County Public Library |
Mason O. Damon Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square
Buffalo, NY 14203
|Tuesday, May 3, 2022||4:00 PM||Brooklyn||New York City College of Technology |
The Theater at City Tech
285 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
|Saturday, May 7, 2022||10:00 AM||VIRTUAL||Via WebEx|
Event number: 2599 706 6384
Event password: climate
Call in number: +1-415-655-0003
Call in access code: 2599 706 6384
|Tuesday, May 10, 2022||4:00 PM||Tupper Lake||The Wild Center |
45 Museum Drive
Tupper Lake, NY 12986
|Wednesday, May 11, 2022||4:00 PM||VIRTUAL||Via WebEx|
Event number: 2595 530 3236
Event password: climate
Call in number: +1-415-655-0003
Call in access code: 2595 530 3236
Pre-registration is encouraged but not required for the in-person hearings. Priority in seating and speaking will be given to those who pre-register. Individuals can pre-register at the Climate Act website. Hearings will be webcast for viewing purposes only, professionally recorded, and transcribed as part of the official record and posted on the Climate Act website.
Members of the public who want to provide oral comment must attend either in-person or join a virtual hearing. Equal weight will be given to oral and written statements.
Written comments can be submitted through June 10, 2022, via the online public comment form, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via U.S. Mail to Attention: Draft Scoping Plan Comments, NYSERDA, 17 Columbia Circle, Albany, NY 12203-6399.
The description of the public meetings did not mention the plan for public speakers. At the March 3, 2022 Climate Action Council meeting (33:27 in the recording) they noted that they plan to limit speakers to two minutes. I think that is insufficient time for anything meaningful. Instead, it is about enough time for a speaker to say that they are in favor or not in favor of the plan. Ultimately this means the Council is simply going through the motions for the public input requirement of the Climate Act. Nonetheless it still is useful to attend because it is certain that the activists will be there and if substantial numbers of skeptical comments are received it may give the Council the idea that not everyone is on board with the draft scoping plan.
My experience with respect to the public comments is that they are mostly for show. Written submittals are the real opportunity to provide substantive comments. In this instance I recommend that you copy your legislators on your submittals. If you are looking for ideas for comments there is a page on the Citizens Guide that lists the comments that I have submitted.
In response to requests I prepare a summary of the articles posted here that is sent out every couple of weeks. One of the recipients contacted me and suggested that there may be people who would like to comment but do not feel comfortable submitting comments under their own name and email address. If any reader is in that position, I offer to submit your comments though my name and this blog email address. The introduction to the comments would simply state that I am submitting comments under my name because a reader of my blog does not feel comfortable submitting comments because of potential ramifications with his employer. Of course, I can only make this offer for comments that are credible and that decision will be made in communication with the author.
One of the readers of this blog wrote: “I’m not saying that people shouldn’t comment, however, it almost feels like we are lending credence to a farce of a process. I am not being critical of everyone’s efforts; I am just wondering if it really matters”. I responded that I too often wrestle with the question whether participating in the public hearings and comments has any value. Frequently the answer is in the back of the book so it is hard to claim any value to the effort required to comment. Unfortunately, there are indications that this might be the case for this public input process.
I think in this instance that it is important to let the people in charge know that this law goes too far, too fast and that this cure could easily be worse than the alleged problems. I cling to the belief that there are many politicians who privately question the scope of the Climate Act but are afraid to object. They have been bullied into silence by a vocal segment of society and their party leadership. I am hoping that there will be enough of a public outcry that when implementing legislation is considered later this year that they will have the courage to stand up for their constituents and say no to, for example, changing building codes to ban fossil fuel use in homes.
In conclusion I think that comments have value and encourage readers to comment. Don’t forget that if you have problems submitting your own comments that I am willing to submit your comments.