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State Senate Passes Nation-Leading Climate Bill, Advocates Cheer New York Leadership

New York State Senate Passes Landmark Climate Legislation, Assembly Vote Expected Before End of Session

Albany, NY

Environmental Groups Celebrate Bill that Will Drastically Reduce Pollution, 
Invest in Frontline Communities, and Transform New York’s Economy

New York’s environmental organizations cheered the passage of Senate Bill 6599 early Wednesday morning as it passed the New York State Senate. The Assembly is expected to vote on House Bill 8429 before session ends on Thursday. When signed into law by Governor Cuomo, New York’s climate program will be strongest and most aggressive in the United States. Sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminksy (D-Rockville Center) and Assemblymember Steve Englebright (D- Setauket), this landmark legislation will drastically cut pollution across economic sectors, put New York on a path to net zero emissions, codify New York’s ambitious clean energy goals, and help ensure an equitable transition to a low-carbon future.

The bill:

  • Sets an economy-wide net zero emissions goal
  • Codifies the following emissions reduction and renewable energy goals:
    • 85 percent economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2050
    • 70 percent renewable energy for statewide electricity generation by 2030
    • 100 percent emissions free power by 2040
    • 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2035
    • 6,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2025
    • 23 percent increase in energy efficiency
  • Creates a 22-member Climate Action Council to create a scoping plan of recommendations to achieve the above goals and transform New York’s economy
  • Directs benefits of clean energy program spending to frontline communities that have been historically burdened by pollution and/or are at high risk from the effects of climate change
  • Creates a Climate Justice Working Group that includes representatives from environmental justice communities and several state agencies
  • Allows for strictly defined offsets to reduce pollution beyond 85 percent by 2050, with guidelines that ensure the projects create permanent and verifiable pollution reductions, benefit New York directly, and do no harm to overburdened communities

Samantha Levy, New York Policy Manager, American Farmland Trust, said, “Our farmers are on the front lines of climate change, both in bearing the brunt of its damage, and also in being a potential key part of the solution. We are so proud that Governor Cuomo and leaders in the New York State Senate and Assembly—including Senator Kaminsky and Assemblymember Englebright—worked tirelessly to put together a nation-leading piece of climate legislation that will bring New York to action in the face of an often immobilizing climate crisis. By including a role for our Natural and Working Lands this legislation sets up a process that will help us work to ensure our farms adapt to, and remain resilient to adverse climate impacts, but also-critically-that we create opportunities to help our farms stay viable while fulfilling their potential in mitigating climate change.”

Erin McGrath, Policy Manager, Audubon New York, said, “Audubon has established that over 300 North American bird species are threatened by climate change. To prevent species extinctions and other catastrophic effects of climate change, we must reduce carbon pollution as quickly as possible. This nation-leading legislation will provide the foundation for accomplishing New York State’s ambitious climate agenda, and help to protect birds and the places they need. We thank Governor Cuomo, Senator Kaminsky, Assemblymember Englebright, and their colleagues in the Legislature for their tireless efforts to make this bill a reality for New York State.”

Miles Farmer, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “In the face of federal backsliding on climate, New York is assuming the mantle of leadership by adopting a bill that aggressively fights climate change while prioritizing equity. This legislation will set the nation’s strongest emissions limits, decarbonize the power sector at a record pace, and supercharge New York’s clean energy economy.”

Jessica Ottney Mahar, New York Policy Director, The Nature Conservancy, said, The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for enacting the most ambitious climate legislation in the entire country. This landmark legislation sets a precedent for the nation and sends an important signal to nations around the world. Despite inaction by our federal government, New York State is determined to aggressively tackle climate change. We are especially grateful for the leadership of Senator Kaminsky and Assemblymember Steve Englebright and our fellow advocates for helping to secure this momentous achievement. This year is truly one for the record books.”

Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "New York's climate bill is the strongest and most ambitious in the nation.  We are proud that after months of advocacy, there is agreement on a bill that will result in deep economy-wide emission reduction goals and requires 100% clean power by 2040 combined with investments in communities that have historically born a disproportionate burden of the effects of air pollution and climate change.  As the White House continues to put fossil fuels first, this legislation is a bold model for other states to follow. We thank Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Senator Kaminsky for their leadership.”

Paul Gallay, President, Riverkeeper, said, “What an achievement! Riverkeeper congratulates Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Senator Kaminsky, Assembly Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Englebright, as well as New York’s frontline community and environmental advocates, who challenged New York’s elected officials to craft an aggressive, achievable and equitable climate bill. The resulting legislation will drive unprecedented climate action in New York and should inspire similar action in other states, as well. It's what real leadership looks like in the fight to provide future generations with a livable climate.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.