The Hochul Administration: Three Months In

As soon as Kathy Hochul was sworn in as Governor it became clear that she would be consciously implementing an environmentally-focused policy agenda. New York State (NYS) has some of the most ambitious goals in the country, outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and Governor Hochul has shown that she is working to ensure that those goals are met. Now, at the three-month mark of her tenure, we review some of the exciting advancements in New York State’s fight against climate change.

Governor Hochul did not wait long before making her first announcement relating to environmental policy after being sworn in. Less than a month after taking office, she approved the State moving forward with the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule. The ACT rule requires vehicle manufacturers to continuously increase the percentage of zero-emission trucks and buses being sold through 2035. This early action demonstrated that as Governor, Hochul is committed to significantly decreasing emissions in NYS to minimize future climate disasters. Transportation is currently the largest greenhouse gas emitter in NY, and this is a step in the right direction to ensure that pollution from the transportation sector is zeroed-out as soon as practicable. Hochul also signed a bill into law that requires all passenger vehicles sold in the state to be emission-free by 2035. These actions are bold and make New York State one of the leaders in the country in regard to taking action to mitigate climate change.

To kick off this year’s Climate Week, Hochul announced that she would be working to expand the NY-Sun program, the program aimed at growing the installation and development of solar energy in NYS. Governor Hochul’s announcement put New York on the path to achieve an expanded goal from 6 gigawatts of distributed solar by 2030 to at least 10 gigawatts, nearly double the amount. If this goal is met, it will be another step towards meeting the promise in the CLCPA of 70 percent renewable energy in NYS by 2030. Hochul also designated at least 35 percent of the benefits from the investments in solar energy to go to disadvantaged communities and low-to-moderate income residents. This plan will help catapult NYS out of economic turmoil by creating an additional 6,000 solar jobs on top of the 12,000 that already exist in the state.

The Governor also announced the largest ever community air monitoring effort in the United States, focused on developing data-driven strategies to reduce pollution in disadvantaged communities across the state. The effort aligns with the State’s comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction strategies and supports the State’s goal of reducing emissions by 85 percent by 2050.

Hochul’s announcement contained more exciting news in regard to renewable energy in NYS. She communicated that there are two major green energy projects in the works that will power New York City with wind, solar, and hydropower generated in upstate New York and Canada. These projects will significantly decrease carbon emissions which is necessary to combat climate change. The plan can also be considered a key piece in New York State’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. Once the projects are approved, they will create approximately 10,000 well-paying jobs statewide. On top of that, the green energy installation will result in $8.2 billion in economic investments specifically committed to support disadvantaged communities. The CLCPA promises a zero-emission grid by 2040, and these projects will mark good progress toward achieving that goal.

By Katherine Netti