The New York State Climate Action Council is a 22-member committee working to map out the steps New York will have to take to meet climate goals set in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), signed in 2019 by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The primary goal of the law is to eliminate 100% of climate pollution caused by humans. It calls for an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with an interim target of 40% by 2030.
The Climate Action Council includes stakeholders from science, academia, the environmental community, agriculture, the energy sector and more. Under the umbrella of the Climate Action Council (CAC), there are multiple advisory panels that are each focused on a single economic sector.
The co-directors of the CAC are the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos and Doreen Harris of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
According to Seggos, since 2019 when the CLCPA was signed, the CAC has had over 100 public meetings, one as recently as this week. Its task, he told Capital Tonight, is simple but challenging.
“To come up with the plan to hit these really ambitious climate targets,” Seggos said. “What we’ve gotten is effectively hundreds of recommendations. So right now, what we’re doing with the council is integrating all these recommendations together to see whether we’ll meet the targets, or add additional recommendations.”
The “scoping document,” or final outline of the plan, is statutorily obligated to be completed by the end of this year. Since the climate law demands that state government look at the climate impacts of fossil fuel projects, permit applications for power plants, including Danskammer and Astoria NRG, may be in doubt.
Both plants’ permit applications are currently open for the 60-day public comment period. In a series of tweets about the plants this week, Seggos wrote, the DEC “found that the current applications haven’t justified the projects.”
Capital Tonight asked Seggos, if, after the public comment period DEC still holds that position, if the plants might not be permitted.
Seggos said that was a possibility.
“We need to subject every application (like those two) natural gas facilities to this CLCPA rubric. Public comments are important, but we ultimately need that really detailed analysis of how those plants will impact emissions across New York state,” Seggos said.