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Legislature Urges State Passage of Comprehensive Climate Legislation

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Legislature Urges State Passage of Comprehensive Climate Legislation

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Tompkins County Legislature approved a resolution urging the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to pass comprehensive climate legislation during the 2019 legislative term.  The vote was 12-1, with Legislator Mike Sigler voting no; Legislator Michael Lane was out of the room and excused from the vote.)  The measure refers to two separate legislative initiatives currently under review in Senate and Assembly, the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) and the New York State Climate Leadership Act (CLA).

The resolution notes that the CCPA, in part, would establish a State goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission levels by 100% of 1990 levels by 2050, with a 50% reduction by 2030; and that the CCLA would require creation of an energy roadmap to identify and recommend regulatory measures, clean energy programs, and other state actions to achieve a 40% GGE reduction goal by 2030 and carbon neutrality goals.  The purpose of both proposed acts is consistent with Tompkins County’s energy goals, as set forth in its Comprehensive Plan and numerous other County initiatives, the resolution notes

The measure urges that the Senate and Assembly, and the  Governor “to enact into law as soon as possible a comprehensive climate protection act, ideally one that combines the most effective provisions of both the Climate and Community Protection Act and the Climate Leadership Act,” and that they, as well as the executive agencies that oversee implementation “closely monitor its efficacy and take prompt future action to amend and improve it as relevant scientific advances suggest.”

Legislator Sigler said that, while he supports actions to address climate change, he was voting no because he is sick of all the discussion of goals and the verbiage—in this case, an 18-paragraph resolution.  He said the message is simple: “Stop burning fossil fuels,” which will require sacrifice, and that what needs to be done are actions such as shipping more power downstate, where it’s needed, and investing in hydropower.  “This county is way ahead of the state,” he said.  Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee Chair Deborah Dawson responded that if it were that simple, “we would have done it a long time ago…You can’t just flip a switch.”  Chair Martha Robertson said, “We don’t make state policy; we make county policy.  What we see here is the first step to create a state policy…This is a political statement, just saying, ‘Pass something this session.’”