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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie dampens hopes for Climate Change Superfund Act

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie meets with reporters at the State Capitol in Albany on April 16, 2024.
Karen DeWitt
New York Public News Network
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie meets with reporters at the State Capitol in Albany on April 16, 2024.

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Thursday threw cold water on a bill that would require major energy companies to pay for climate change remediation, saying the measure could ultimately result in higher costs for utility ratepayers.

The Climate Change Superfund Act would require companies that significantly contributed to the buildup of greenhouse gases to pay for part of the mitigation efforts to offset climate change, including major infrastructure projects like water barriers.

The state Senate approved the measure, but it has stalled in the Assembly.

Heastie said he’s concerned that it would result in higher utility prices as the energy companies pass down the costs of the new requirements to ratepayers.

“I’ve never in my life seen corporations choose the ratepayer over the stockholder,” Heastie said. “Asking these companies to pay more, it’s going to be, of course, taken out on the ratepayer.”

Other environmental bills under consideration in the final days of the session include the NY HEAT Act, which would ban gas companies from charging ratepayers for new gas line hookups, and a requirement that plastics packaging be reduced by 50% in the coming years.

Heastie said he’s talking with the Senate and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s staff to try to reach an agreement.

The Senate is said to be considering a change that would require just a 30% reduction in plastic packaging. Heastie said the Assembly hasn’t agreed to that, and that discussions continue.

But Heastie said it’s likely that some environmentally friendly measures will be approved.

“We do want to do some environmental things,” he said.

The session is scheduled to end June 7.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.