Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address today laid out several key environmental priorities that would advance the state toward meeting the goals mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
We are thrilled that the governor is once again advocating for the transition to zero-emission buildings for new construction throughout the state. Buildings are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and co-pollutants, so if the state is to meet its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, it is critical that we get building decarbonization right. We will also push for what we believe is the proverbial low-hanging fruit, decarbonizing state-owned buildings with strong union labor and job training provisions. We welcome the governor’s goal of building 800,000 new housing units, with a focus on dense, walkable, transit-oriented development, which will reduce emissions. We look forward to further engaging with the governor and the legislature on this topic.
One of the highlights of the speech was Governor Hochul’s support for a cap and invest program, which we believe, if thoughtfully designed, can be an effective and equitable way to reduce GHG emissions.
If we can make our buildings run on clean energy, surely we can make our State Parks do the same, and so we are excited that the governor proposed transitioning our parks off of fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.
The governor also announced her support for a comprehensive waste reduction and management law for packaging, which would support local recycling efforts, reduce the use of toxic chemicals, save taxpayer money, and advance the goal of sending zero waste to landfills–a longtime NYLCV priority.
We are pleased to hear the governor announce several proposals to improve the functionality of the MTA and the continued progress toward the implementation of congestion pricing, which will provide critical capital funding for the MTA. An efficient, accessible, and reliable mass transit system is a key component to getting drivers out of their fossil fuel burning cars and into clean transportation, and we are encouraged that the governor expects the Federal Highway Administration to sign off on this proposal in early 2023.
We are grateful that the governor announced several steps to protect the state’s drinking water, our most precious resource. This includes $500 million for investigating and removing “forever chemicals” and continuing the state’s push to ensure our drinking water is lead free.
We are excited about the governor’s proposed EmPower Plus program and the Energy Affordability Guarantee. The former will help low-income New Yorkers retrofit their homes to become more energy efficient, while the latter will keep their utility costs down, and together it’s a potential game changer that will hasten an equitable transition to clean energy for all New Yorkers.
The environmental priorities the governor spoke about today are a positive step forward. But the devil is in the details and we will fight throughout the budget process and the upcoming legislative session to ensure these policy proposals–and more–are acted upon in a manner which is both effective and equitable.
And there is so much more that needs to be done. We also look forward to advocating for a clean fuel standard for transportation, new funding for the MTA, and increasing offshore wind commitments to 20 gigawatts by 2050, among the other policies we outline in our 2023 State Agenda.
Throughout her time in office, Governor Hochul has been a champion for the environment and she has put New York on the leading edge in the fight against climate change. Her address today demonstrates that she has no intention of letting up. NYLCV applauds the governor for her bold environmental leadership and we look forward to working with her and the state legislature in the coming year.