Advocates urge NYS not to put fossil fuel construction phaseout on back burner
While the Hochul Administration is touting increased financial commitments to clean energy and climate preservation in the new state budget, at least one environmental advocacy group says the spending plan offers mixed results. Among the disappointments, legislation that would phase out fossil fuel heating sources in new construction was left out.
“Our campaign Renewable Heat Now has been working to advance heat pumps in New York, making them affordable and accessible for all New Yorkers,” said New Yorkers for Clean Power campaign director Betta Broad. “It basically means electrifying our buildings, getting fossil fuels out of our homes, so that we're not cooking and heating and heating our hot water with fossil fuel combustion.”
The Hochul administration sought to implement this on new, large structures by 2027, while a Senate version would have required the change on smaller new structures as early as 2024. Neither version made it in the budget.
New Yorkers for Clean Power expressed disappointment in this development, suggesting the support appeared there prior to passage of the budget. They’re hoping the governor and legislators may still work out an agreement and pass it before the end of the current legislature session in June.
Broad noted that Earth Day, April 22, was coming up, and would make an ideal time to get the legislation passed. She also noted the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, signed into law in 2019, which sets a framework for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions over a period of time, transitioning to net-zero emissions.
“The bills that we're advocating for not only will help us transition our buildings off of fossil fuels, they also have equity at the heart, so that people aren't paying more and are actually helped to transition to heat pumps to do the necessary weatherization and energy efficiency that will make their homes healthier, and more affordable,” said Broad, who added that making these changes could save New Yorkers up to $15 billion between now and the year 2035.
Public hearings on CLCPA are scheduled across New York State over the next several weeks, including one in Buffalo on Wednesday, April 27.
New Yorkers for Clean Power does see some positives in the state budget, including a tax credit for geothermal energy use, and money in housing capital for all-electric heating and weatherization.