A bipartisan coalition of 50 New York State legislators has written to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, pushing the agency to “adopt tough national standards to cut climate-disrupting power plant pollution.”
The letter, which was released publicly today, “urge[s] the EPA to match or exceed the baseline established by New York State’s power plant siting law.”
New York’s legislators are prodding the federal government, saying that the EPA’s “finding that carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas pollutants endanger public health compels you to act.”
A Long Island Republican Urges Action on Climate Change
Signatories to the letter include members of the state legislature’s Environmental Caucus, along with other assembly members and state senators. The Environmental Caucus is chaired by Brian Kavanaugh, a Democratic assembly member from Manhattan.
Kavanaugh and a Long Island Republican, State Senator Phil Boyle, spearheaded the effort. “The current rate of greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere is unacceptable,” Boyle said in a press release.
The letter from New York is a formal comment on the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants (EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0495). “We believe that the…standard that the EPA has proposed…should be strengthened,” New York’s electeds argued.
The New York Approach—A National Model?
New York State law, the legislators wrote, “mandates a thorough carbon review of every proposed major electric generating facility with a nameplate capacity of 25 megawatts and greater, regardless of fuel source.”
“All new power plants are limited to 925 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour,” they added.
The legislators argued that New York’s approach “deliver[s] major economic and health benefits” both through reducing pollution, and “driving investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
In addition to mandating carbon reviews of new power plants, the state participates in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-state carbon trading scheme.
According to the RGGI website, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont sell “nearly all” their emission allowances through auctions. The proceeds are then invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other “consumer benefit” programs.
New York State has spent “hundreds of millions” on weatherization, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The state recently made a billion dollar, ten-year commitment to its NY-Sun program, which offers incentives for solar energy development.
The result, according to New York’s legislature? Between 2005-2011, the state’s carbon dioxide emission rate from the power sector declined 35 percent.
“We urge the EPA to set standards that will bring about these kinds of benefits for the nation as a whole, and foster significant reductions in the carbon pollution that poses such a grave threat to the world’s wellbeing,” New York’s legislators concluded.