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NYS Urged to Follow Through on Clean-Energy Funding

New York is required to invest 35% of clean-energy funds in projects that benefit disadvantaged communities. (oneinchpunch/Adobe Stock)
New York is required to invest 35% of clean-energy funds in projects that benefit disadvantaged communities. (oneinchpunch/Adobe Stock)
September 10, 2020

NEW YORK -- Environmental groups want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject any plan that would use money committed to environmental justice and fighting climate change to fill holes in the state budget.

This year, New York has received almost $90 million from polluters through RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Those funds are supposed to be used for clean-energy projects.

While the state budget has been hit hard by the economic turmoil of the COVID pandemic, according to Conor Bambrick, climate policy director for Environmental Advocates NY, maintaining commitment to combat climate change is important to the state's future.

"Investments in climate and clean energy are going to be critical to New York state's economic recovery," Bambrick said. "And the funds provided through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are going to play a key role in that."

He added over the years, more than 17% of RGGI funds have been diverted to other purposes and urges the Cuomo administration not to repeat that pattern.

Bambrick pointed out under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, signed into law last year, the state must dedicate a significant portion of its clean-energy money to communities on the front lines of the climate change already happening.

"The state's climate law requires that at least 35% of our clean-energy funds be invested in communities that have been hit the worst by climate change," Bambrick said.

He said those are the same communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID pandemic.

Bambrick added clean-energy projects in environmental justice communities are community-driven and provide both immediate and long-term benefits for health and economic well-being.

"Things like community solar, energy-efficiency retrofits for buildings, workforce development so that people living in these communities can actively participate in the recovery and benefit directly from it," Bambrick explained.

Over the life of the program, RGGI has raised more than $1.3 billion for New York state.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY