Conservationists praise Hochul state state plan, highlight areas for improvement

New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her state-of-the-state address at the State Capitol on Wednesday. (Vaughn Golden / WSKG)

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her first state-of-state speech on Wednesday, taking the opportunity to highlight some of her policy proposals for the coming year.

Hochul’s environmental and climate policy initiatives for 2022 include additional funding for offshore wind projects, additional resources and a focus on green hydrogen development, and a plan requiring all new buildings to have zero emissions. by 2027.

Elizabeth Moran, New York Policy Advocate for EarthJustice, and Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY and member of the state’s Climate Action Council, discussed their thoughts on the governor’s speech with Vaughn Golden of the WSKG.

Vaughn Golden (WSKG): I’m here with Elizabeth Moran, New York Policy Advocate for EarthJustice, a public benefit nonprofit. And Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY and member of the state’s Climate Action Council. Thanks to both of you for coming.

Elizabeth Moran: Thank you for receiving us.

Peter Iwanowicz: Yeah, it’s great to be here.

Golden: I want to start with part of the governor’s state-of-state speech, a little excerpt here.

Governor Kathy Hochul: “It’s a threat to our way of life here. And now. That is why we must and we will implement an ambitious program to respond to this moment. “

Golden: Thus, Governor Hochul made reference to climate change in the climate agenda that she posed in her State of the State address today. We are talking Wednesday, the day of the address. We therefore often hear this word “ambitious” in all senses with climate proposals, it seems. I want to ask you, if you agree, if the things the Governor described in the State of the State were really, really ambitious. Peter, we’ll start with you.

Iwanowicz: Yeah, I hate to quibble with the Governor’s words, but I just want to make it a little bit. You know, it’s no longer a threat. I mean, the impacts are there, people are getting sick, communities are drastically affected by climate change. She was right. It’s here. It is now that it is no longer a distant threat. It is right here and we must have the bold policy response to fix it. You know, I think, the rhetoric was really blunt in that assessment, and honest and that assessment. And the book she held up when she spoke about her speech has a lot of truly national policies that are part of it to back it up. There are a lot of things in there.

Golden: Liz, what about your thoughts?

Moran: Yes, I think a lot of people were very excited and in awe of what she presented in her speech today. And in his book The State of the State. In particular, we were delighted to hear that she had announced her intention to electrify homes and vehicles. We know that a key step in tackling the climate crisis and moving away from fossil fuels will be to electrify everything. So we were very happy to hear him list these things as priorities. We are going to insist in some cases that things go a little stronger and faster. But it’s a really exciting start. And I think people are excited about this change of direction.

Golden: I actually have a cut here of the governor discussing these, or excuse me, the electrification items.

Hochul: “New construction to zero emission state by 2027. And will be climate-friendly electric homes and will promote electric cars, trucks and buses. “

Golden: So I want to dig a little deeper into this. And Liz, you mentioned, did you mention the delay. The year she set is 2027 for all new homes to be zero emission when built and to electrify 1 million homes? Do you agree with this timeline? Do you think this is ambitious enough?

Moran: We think 2027 is a bit slow. For example, New York City recently passed a law that will ban fossil fuels in new construction from 2024 for small buildings and 2027 for larger ones. But really, there’s no reason the whole state couldn’t have a faster timeline. We know the technology is there and available. We therefore join a number of partners in urging a ban on new construction using fossil fuels from new construction by next year. But we’re really glad it’s on his record.

Golden: And Peter, so you’re currently a member of the Climate Action Council. And that group developed a plan to get the state to meet its goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. It’s a very thick plan of over 800 pages that was released last week. And we could certainly spend a lot of time going through the intricacies of that, but how much of the governor’s speech do you think there is overlap with this plan?

Iwanowicz: Well, it’s rewarding, a lot. I mean, if you read the book, and this is my third reading of the 800 page document, myself as a member of the Climate Action Council, and a lot of the plan appears in his speech and in our vision of what it The 2022 agenda is going to be.

Golden: Which do you think models the other? Does the governor somehow shape the Climate Action Council or the administration?

Iwanowicz: Oh, my God, no, I think the council’s plans and proposals that have been made since before she was governor, were well known to a lot of organizations, including Liz’s organization, mine and others have been working on this, you know, for over a year, what really gratifies me is to see some of these bold initiatives that have been presented that are part of the draft plan being part of his book State of the State. And like I said earlier, she pushes legislation forward as the book promises to achieve those results. You know it will, if you want, supercharge the Climate Action Plan because we will not wait for it to be final, we will start to act now. And it really underscores the urgency of the climatic moment. And I totally agree with Liz on the buildings, we can probably go faster. She gave herself some leeway by saying by 2027. But there’s no reason we can’t at least achieve climate, the climate plan project’s goal of 100% new residential homes electrified, residential structures, by 2024. So faster deadlines in this plan.

Golden: Okay. And Peter will stay with you what additional element (s) would you have liked, would you have liked the governor to include in the state of the state what was not, was not mentioned both in the address and in the book that the governor’s office put out?

Iwanowicz: Well, I would have loved to see a doubling of the commitment to water infrastructure. This is something Liz has worked on for a large part of her career and I know her reasonably well, but it would have been nice to see as the governor pledged to invest a billion dollars in water infrastructure, it is necessary . There is clearly a need there. It’s good for the environment, it creates jobs, it fits into the plan. Maybe we’ll see that when she releases her budget, but I was quite surprised that there wasn’t a doubling on this very successful and over-subscribed grant program to help communities fix their pipes. .

Golden: And Liz, one thing you wish the Governor had included that. It was not included.

Moran: I’ll answer with a “yes and” to what Peter described, the water infrastructure needs in New York State are absolutely enormous. I live in the city of Troy, in upstate New York. And just a week ago, a water pipe broke, over 100 years old. This way, cities in the northern part of the state know firsthand how urgent the need is. But to build on that, I would have liked to hear something from Governor Hochul regarding proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining. It is quickly becoming a statewide problem. There is currently a test case in the Finger Lakes, the Greenidge power plant that uses natural gas to fuel its cryptocurrency mining operations. And we are concerned because this technology uses so much energy that we fear it could jeopardize the state’s very important climate mandates. So we hope to hear something from her about it in the near future.

Golden: Good. We’re almost out of time. So I think we’ll have to stop here and there, but Liz Moran from EarthJustice and Peter Iwanowicz from Environmental Advocates NY thank you very much.

Moran: Thank you.

Iwanowicz: Thank you.

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