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“Do or Die” for NY Global Warming Bill

June 15, 2009

Albany, NY — It's do or die for important environmental bills in New York, including a bill that would cap global-warming pollution. Those bills are in jeopardy as the Senate leadership void in Albany could doom their prospects. It takes 32 votes to pass a bill in the state Senate, and Jackson Morris, air and energy policy director with Environmental Advocates of New York, says that while bills to cap carbon emissions have at least that many supporters, they are still in danger.

Morris says the fight over control of the gavel needs to be resolved now, or time will run out to act on climate change in the 2009 session.

"Really, the next seven days are going to determine whether or not the Senate of New York State can achieve major victories on the environment, or whether it's going to be the most unproductive session in the history of New York State."

Morris says that when it comes to the environment it all hinges on the Senate now. That's because the Assembly, the lower house in Albany, has already acted and passed 70 environmental bills, but only two have been approved by the Senate. The session is scheduled to end June 22.

Republicans and Democrats have offered similar bills to cap global-warming emissions in New York. Critics of the proposals say they will be too costly and will drive away business, but Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates, says that's not what happened when California approved a similar cap.

"When California passed their climate bill back in 2006, it spurred billions of dollars in investment in clean energy, energy efficiency, and alternative fuels. In New York, also being a huge economic driver to the U.S. economy, we would expect to have a similar impact."

While the Senate could work beyond the close of the session, members of the Assembly have said they plan to finish on time. That's why Moore says the climate change measure and other critical environmental bills need to start moving through the Senate this week or they could die. The Democrats' bill (S 4315) has 27 sponsors and the nearly identical Republican version (S 1526) currently has seven sponsors.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY