NYS Climate and Community Protection Act (S.6617/A.8270)

Date: 2017

A.8270 Englebright

S.6617 Avella

MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION

Unshackle Upstate, a non-partisan, pro-taxpayer, pro-economic growth, education and advocacy coalition made up of business and trade organizations from all parts of Upstate New York, opposes this legislation.

This bill would enact the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, which requires the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in consultation with other governmental agencies and communities, to develop a climate action plan and promulgate regulations to achieve statewide greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and mandating the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Unshackle Upstate does not object to efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the state. However, we object to this bill because it is unnecessary, and, if enacted, will be devastating to the state’s economy.

New York’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) strategy is intended to spur clean energy innovation, promoting more efficient use of energy, and expanding renewable energy resources. The State Energy Plan has set a vision that includes greenhouse gas reduction and expansion of renewable energy generation and use within the state. New York also participates in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states via a cap and trade program.

In contrast to “command and control” measures such as this one, the REV proceeding and cap and trade programs such as RGGI are more economically efficient. (According to the sponsor, the fiscal implications of this bill are “to be determined.”)

Mandating the aggressive targets that are included in this legislation will put New York at a competitive economic disadvantage, regionally, nationally and globally.

This legislation would increase the already high energy costs that most New York ratepayers face. The initial costs of this legislation would likely be in the hundreds of dollars per household, with further increases as the reduction emission mandates grow over time. This measure is, in effect, a hidden, regressive tax, that is likely to hinder economic growth. Should there be another economic downturn, this proposal could devastate the state’s economy.

Even under a best-case scenario, by increasing energy costs in the state, this legislation will likely cost New York State jobs. In order to comply with these greenhouse house gas emission reduction mandates, companies will have two options: produce less, or pay more for their energy. Neither of these options is a good one, especially in energy-intensive industries, and many will consider moving to other states that do not have such mandates.

New York State businesses and residents pay some $1.6 billion annually in taxes, fees and surcharges on their energy bills, a significant amount of which goes to pay for subsidies that favor wind and solar. In contrast, the development of natural gas – which does not require any state subsidies – has effectively been prohibited in the state.

Other states that have enacted measures of this nature have included in them a requirement that the state ensure that no existing jobs in the state’s manufacturing sector be lost as a result of the law, and affirmatively demonstrate that the law has resulted in a net increase in jobs in the state, as well as a net economic benefit to the State. With these measure not included in the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, this measure is fatally flawed.

For these reasons, Unshackle Upstate opposes the enactment of this legislation.