The Hudson Valley is set to have a public hearing for New York state’s draft plan to all but eliminate carbon emissions in the coming decades to combat the climate crisis.
On May 12, the state Climate Action Council will have a hearing at Peekskill’s Paramount Hudson Valley Theater to discuss its 300-plus-page Draft scoping plan, according to Haley Viccaro, a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, on Thursday. The theater can hold more than 1,000 people.
The plan aims to make New York carbon-neutral by 2050. It is based on the goals set forth in the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. This law is widely considered to be the most ambitious law in the country to address climate change.
After outcry over not having events in Hudson Valley, despite the fact that the area has some of the most disadvantaged communities that would benefit from the ambitious plan, the announcement of the Hudson Valley hearing was made. Advocates were concerned about how far residents would travel to hear the hearings in Albany, Bronx.
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On Wednesday, officials from the state announced a hearing in Peekskill on May 4, but local advocates warned that there was not enough time for supporters to attend.
Viccaro stated that the May 12th date is “perfect” because it gives more notice. However, it’s still within the public comment period which ended June 10.
More than 500 residents, non-profits, elected officials and other local representatives signed a March letter to the Climate Action Council co-chairs to demand a Hudson Valley hearing. The River Newsroom is a nonprofit news source. first reported.
Local advocates pointed out that 45% of census tracts within the mid-Hudson area were considered disadvantaged communities according to the state’s Climate Justice Working Group. They wrote that this was the same as New York City.
Jen Metzger, a senior policy advisor to the advocacy group New Yorkers for Clean Power and a former Hudson Valley state senator who co-sponsored the 2019 climate law, pointed to the percentage of disadvantaged communities in the region, as well as the rural nature of the Hudson Valley.
“It’s going to affect communities all up and down the Hudson,” she said. “Our farms are at the forefront of climate change, experiencing direct impacts. There are many stakes.
The plan aims to reduce carbon emissions in the state by at most 85% below 1990 levels by 2050, as stated in the 2019 climate law. The rest of the emissions would be offset through carbon sequestration like forestation.
According to the 2019 climate law, in order for the state to reach the decades-long goals, it must meet specified benchmarks. These include:
- In 2025, there will reportedly be 6,000 megawatts of solar energy distributed and 185 trillion British thermo units on-site energy saving;
- 70% of renewable energy storage will be available by 2030, including 3,000 megawatts and a 40% reduction on emissions.
- By 2035, there will be 9,000 megawatts offshore wind.
- By 2040, 100% zero emission electricity.
It is expected that the plan will be expensive. The draft scoping document includes three scenarios. It is estimated that it will cost upwards to $290 billion.
However, the plan states that it will benefit the state from $90 to $120billion and could create 10 jobs for each job lost. Inaction could result in $90 billion.
It indicates the scenario for strategically using low-carbon fuel — such as bioenergy — would cost the most, $310 billion, and have the least net benefit. Meanwhile, the plan’s $290 billion option for an accelerated transition from fossil fuel combustion would have the largest net benefit.
The 2019 climate law makes it clear that the transition will ensure equity goals for low-income communities as well as communities of color considered disadvantaged. In doing so, at least 35%, with a goal of 40%, of benefits of spending from the plan must go to these communities.
Metzger stated that in the Hudson Valley this can lead to job creation in renewable energy and sequestration, Metzger added.
But it also has public health implications with reduced fossil fuel combustion in communities such as Newburgh, which has one of the highest asthma rates in New York and emergency room visits that more than double the state average, according to state health Data.
Raya Salter, a New Rochelle-based environmental attorney who sits on the Climate Action Council, also joined in pushing for a Hudson Valley hearing, but she worried about the population center of Westchester in the county’s south that won’t have a hearing.
The council’s first hearing for the draft plan was April 5 at Bronx Community College — still a schlep for lower Westchester residents in communities in Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, cities that have census tracts identified as disadvantage communities.
“I’m glad to hear it,” Salter said of the Peekskill hearing. “But we’ve got a big population in southern Westchester.”
The public comment period for this draft plan ends June 10. The Climate Action Council will meet by the end the year to finalize their plan.
Visit www.amazon.com for more information https://climate.ny.gov/CAC-Meetings-and-Materials. Here are the remaining hearings
- Brooklyn: New York City College of Technology, The Theater at City Tech, Tuesday, May 3, 4 p.m.
- Virtual: https://nyserdany.webex.com/nyserdany/onstage/g.php?MTID=e3f037513c7ab055c46f1253fb908265e, Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m.
- Tupper Lake: The Wild Center, Tuesday, May 10, 4 p.m.
- Virtual: https://nyserdany.webex.com/nyserdany/onstage/g.php?MTID=eecfcf639bf8b5c07f1740e976f494fba, Wednesday, May 11, 4 p.m.
- Peekskill: Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, Thursday, May 12, 4 p.m.