Metzger hails “nation-leading” plan to slash NY’s planet-warming gases

State Sen. Jen Metzger celebrated the passage this week of a bill requiring New York to shed all fossil-fuel power in just over 20 years and be carbon-fee a decade later, an ambitious drive to arrest global warming that thrilled environmentalists and raised red flags for Republicans, nearly all of whom voted against it.

Metzger, a Rosendale Democrat and clean-energy advocate who ran the nonprofit Citizens for Local Power before winning the 42nd Senate District seat in November, helped develop the Senate’s proposed amendments to the bill. The legislation, known as the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, was approved by the Senate in a 41-21 vote on Tuesday and the Assembly in a 111-35 vote on Thursday.

Metzger said in a statement afterward that a one-degree global temperature rise already has caused “dramatic melting of the polar ice caps, more severe storms and more intense heat days, prolonged droughts, and other impacts.”

“If we want to leave the world a better place for our children, then we need to reset the course we are on,” she said. “This nation-leading legislation puts us on a path to a clean energy economy that will create thousands of good-paying New York jobs, end our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and protect public health and the environment for generations to come.”

The bill requires New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources – wind, solar and hydroelectric – by 2030, and reach 100 percent by 2040. It also requires the state to reduce its overall carbon emissions by 85 percent by 2050, and to find ways to offset the remaining 15 percent so that the state is then carbon-neutral.

Andy Bicking, director of public policy at Scenic Hudson, praised the Legislature and Cuomo for negotiating the final bill and singled out Metzger for securing “important provisions in the law that relate to land use, local government, and greenhouse gas sequestration strategies to achieve its goal.”

Among the opponents of the legislation was Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, a New Windsor Republican who said afterward that he supported fighting climate change but didn’t like the bill’s creation of a council to help formulate how New York will hit its carbon-reduction targets.

“As drafted, it defers most of the power and long term decision making authority to a ‘climate council’ who will not be accountable to the public,” Schmitt said. “They will wield unchecked control on wide swaths of our economy and society that will impact generations of New Yorkers.”

He also voiced concerns about the potential costs of converting to renewable energy, both to the state and its residents, and the possibility of future electricity shortages.

“We have seen California suffer from rolling blackouts and become the nation’s largest energy importer, often relying on out of state energy that otherwise would not be allowed for production in the state as it tries to meet its climate goals,” Schmitt said. “We cannot force ourselves into a similar situation in New York.”

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