Lobbying for Clean Energy and Clean Car Standards

During the League of Conservation Voters’ largest lobby day last month on Capitol Hill, NYLCV Senior Vice President Josh Klainberg, interns Molly Radwell and Raine Sroge Johnson, NYLCV Capital Region Board Member Dr. Lewis Morrison, and National LCV lead Jameka Hodnett meet with eleven members of the U.S. House of Representatives New York delegation.  They emphasized three main issues: the need to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), protecting the clean car standards, and drawing attention to the newly-launched Clean Energy for All Campaign.  The team stressed the importance of maintaining New York’s leadership role on green energy and clean air.

In 2012, through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, unprecedented national fuel efficiency car standards were set for cars to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon efficiency standards by 2025. Endorsed by automakers, the United Automobile Workers (UAW), and environmental groups, these are predicted to save Americans $1 trillion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons by 2030. The Clean Car Standards work in conjunction with a waiver which allows states to implement even stricter regulations embraced by New York, California, and 12 other states. However, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt officially announced his intent to rewrite these standards this past April.

While speaking to the Representatives, the NYLCV team thanked members such as Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY-20) and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY-18) for their support in preserving this transformative legislation and encouraged leadership among politicians to convey a strong message to the federal government. Policymakers in New York are hoping to boost the state’s financing of electric and zero-emissions vehicles as well as increase investments in large-scale renewable energy. The initiatives of the New York Power Authority will utilize around $25 million by 2025 to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles through co-investment with private sector partners, increased customer awareness and the building of fast chargers along state highways.

Measures such as these are imperative to not only incentivize electric vehicle production but also meet Governor Andrew Cuomo’s objective outlined in his 2015 State Energy Plan: reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050. These are the most aggressive targets in the nation which means New York needs to remain steadfast to a comprehensive clean energy agenda with staunch benchmark monitoring.

In addition to the Clean Energy Standard, which mandates that 50% of New York’s electricity is generated by renewable power sources by 2030, NYLCV asked Representatives to take the pledge for Clean Energy For All to reach 100% clean energy in New York by 2050. The campaign is rooted in holding polluters accountable by charging for carbon pollution, expanding carbon pricing and solar programs, and demonstrating on-the-ground demand for pollution-free communities.

All of these are integral for New York to maintain its momentum and spearhead strong action. Representatives discussed how these efforts would hopefully have a ripple effect, prompting other states to be persistent and determined in their respective operations to combat climate change.