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3/19/07 Capitol Insider: NYS Enviro News

Make Polluters Pay

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed its public comment period last week on a “pre-proposal” for draft regulations to formalize New York’s role in the country’s first-ever regional climate pact, formally known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

At the urging of Environmental Advocates of New York and many others, the DEC proposed making polluters pay for the privilege of emitting carbon dioxide, by auctioning 100 percent of the emissions allowances under the program. Power producers complained that they should be given the allowances free of charge (after all, the air isn’t a public resource, or is it?).

And while the DEC won’t release its final decision for months, Environmental Advocates is optimistic that the regional climate pact will include the 100 percent auction provision. By auctioning off the allowances, the state could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for energy efficiency, clean energy and other programs to cut global warming pollution.

Scene (& Heard) About Town

Last week, the Assembly named new committee chairs. Environmental Advocates was waiting on two in particular, Environmental Conservation (EnCon), naturally, and Energy.


The Assembly tapped Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) to chair the EnCon Committee. Sweeney has been an active member of the EnCon Committee for years and is an obvious choice. He’ll be holding the year’s first Assembly EnCon meeting this week, and will likely begin the process of reintroducing some of former Assemblyman DiNapoli’s old bills, including the environmental priority Super Bills. 


On the energy side of things, Assemblyman Paul Tonko will remain committee chair for the time being, despite rumors that he’s been tapped to head the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority. The Authority oversees the state’s funding of clean and renewable energy development, as well as energy efficiency programs statewide.


 Bills in Play

Small Business Energy Loans
One tree for a bill to establish a small business energy loan program. Eligible small businesses could receive either zero percent or reduced interest rate loans of up to $100,000 to finance the cost of improvements to reduce energy use. The bill would also require participating businesses to have an energy audit to identify energy conservation strategies.
Environmental Access to Justice
Three trees for a bill to restore New Yorkers’ power to challenge decisions under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The bill would restore the original intent and test for standing under SEQRA–a showing that the plaintiff has suffered an injury within the zone of interests covered by the original law crafted to protect our air, land and water.

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