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Friday, June 14, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Advocates want NY HEAT Act in the final budget

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Thursday, April 18, 2024   

The New York HEAT Act might not make the final budget.

The bill reduces the state's reliance on natural gas and cuts ratepayer costs by eliminating certain rules. It was in both legislative chambers' one-house budgets, but last-minute scrambling could remove it.

New York League of Conservation Voters Policy Director Patrick McClellan said, aside from people's preference for natural gas, other challenges have made the bill hard to pass.

"I think that there has also been some irresponsible fear-mongering against this bill from some people who oppose it," said McClellan, "basically telling people this means that their natural gas service is going to be taken away from them tomorrow, or it's going to happen without warning, and that's just not the case."

The bill would not mean gas companies could walk away from providing service to new customers, since its effects occur over a longer period.

Rural lawmakers have been skeptical about relying solely on electricity, since people could lose power in bad storms.

If the bill isn't part of the budget, McClellan said the Public Service Commission can do more to require gas utilities factor climate change into their long-term plans.

It will take more than one bill for New York State to reach its climate goals.

McClellan said developing thermal energy networks is one way to build on what the HEAT Act would do, and provide good ways to decarbonize on a larger scale instead of going house by house.

"You're able to get a larger number of buildings and people all at once," McClellan explained. "The other exciting thing about thermal energy networks is, because you are talking fundamentally about piping systems that are underground, it's an extremely similar skill set for people who already work in the fossil fuel industry."

The bill would also eliminate the Hundred Foot Rule. This requires utilities to connect new customers to a gas line for free based on their distance to an existing main gas line, typically 100 feet.

This rule allowed utilities to shift around $1 billion in costs onto about 170,000 ratepayers.




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