CAPITAL REGION, NY (WRGB) — Climate change advocates and critics will be looking for more guidance on the state's climate change action plan as Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to comment on it during her state of the state address Tuesday.
One of the biggest debates surrounding the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, is how to pay for it.
“Affordability is an essential tenet of how we're going to effectuate this transition, it has to be done in that way in order to be successful not only from an implementation perspective,” said NYSERDA President Doreen Harris. “But truly to make New Yorkers thrive through this transition well.”
In a 400 page recommendation released in December, one of the top considerations is a cap and invest fund. Some may be asking, what does this mean?
"Basically, you create a cap on emissions in New York state and you try to ratchet that cap down over time to be able to omit it,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Right, the theory goes, you have to purchase allowances, pay into the system effectively."
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State leaders say money from the fund goes towards investments that continue to lower emissions and incentives.
However, the cap and invest fund is not set in stone, so there are details missing, such as who would contribute to it like businesses, consumers or, both.
"The general idea is that eventually the price for the consumers are likely to rise because the costs get passed on,” said Mark Dunlea, Chair of Green Education and Legal Fund organization. “That's why one of the reasons you usually debate is how much do you rebate to the consumer in order to hold them as harmless as possible, particularly low- and moderate-income consumers because they spend more money on basic necessities like gas and utility bills."
Some environmental organizations have reservations about cap and invest plans; one concern, how they impact disadvantaged communities.
“Oftentimes what it allows them to do is they'll say well we can't close down this facility here so we're going to go buy some credits from somebody who's doing good someplace else say planting trees,” said Dunlea. “So, that's what leads to the pollution continuing in the low-income communities. I will say the climate justice work group which the state has put together has flagged that as a major issue. I do think elected officials are concerned about that; but these are the traditional reasons why cap and invest and trade have normally been opposed."
Households spending 30%of income on housing and utilities are considered a cost burdened according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.
State leaders say federal funding is another way they anticipate offsetting costs.
“We're at a very unique moment in time right now, we have the federal government taking big, bold actions providing half a trillion dollars of investment into climate action over the next ten years,” Seggos added.
Currently, there is no concrete funding commitment from the Biden administration.