The New York League of Conservation Voters commends Gov. Kathy Hochul for her recent actions to curtail carbon emissions throughout the state, particularly in buildings.
On September 21, Gov. Hochul signed into law important legislation to reduce barriers to installing geothermal heating and cooling in buildings. These geothermal systems, through a process utilizing moderately temperate soil and water underground, allow building and home owners to heat and cool their structures with little or no greenhouse gas emissions. The new law (A. 6949/S. 660)–an NYLCV Scorecard bill– reduces red tape and will allow geothermal wells drilled deeper than 500 feet below earth’s surface to be regulated separate from oil and gas mines.
“Easing restrictions on geothermal energy development is a major step in our transition to a clean energy economy,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe. “Decoupling clean geothermal energy from regulations that are meant to govern the dirty oil and gas sectors will help pave the way for affordable and efficient heating and cooling solutions and will go a long way toward reducing emissions from the state’s building sector.”
The building sector, through lighting, heating and cooling, is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Reducing emissions in this sector is crucial if the state is going to meet its stated goal of zero-emission electricity by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050.
Gov. Hochul took two other actions last week in our state’s effort to decarbonize our buildings.
On the same day Gov. Hochul signed the above legislation, she announced that the state has joined the U.S. Climate Alliance commitment to quadruple heat pump installations by 2030. The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 25 governors representing more than half of the U.S. economy and population.
“I am proud to stand side by side with my fellow governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance to show our commitment to bold action to decarbonize the buildings sector,” Gov. Hochul said.
In addition, Gov. Hochul also committed $200 million to EmPower+ for home retrofits, to reduce energy costs for low-income New Yorkers. This program will help approximately 20,000 low-income families statewide improve their home with energy-efficient upgrades, lowering costs and improving air quality and health in their homes.
Thirdly, Gov. Hochul announced that the state is moving forward with its Clean Heat for All Challenge, a partnership to develop a new green electrification system to better heat and cool existing New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings. By this winter, according to Gov. Hochul, 72 cold climate packaged window heat pump units will be installed in NYCHA apartments. These units will be monitored and assessed before the program expands to widespread installation of 30,000 units in the coming years.
While the NYLCV applauds Gov. Hochul for taking these important environmental steps, we urge her to also sign into law five additional bills passed by the State Legislature in the 2023 session and awaiting her action. These five bills are the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act (A. 6115/S. 5512, the Class C. Streams Act (A. 4601/S. 1725-A), the Highway and Depot Charging Action Plan (A. 5052/S. 4830-C), and the Birds and Bees Protection Act (A. 7640/S. 1856-A). For more info on these bills, see a previous NYLCV blog.
For more info about geothermal heating and cooling, please see Con Edison’s website.