Climate Act Lemmings Herd Up to Go Over the Cliff for Hochul
Roger Caiazza (on the subject of)
Independent Researcher and Publisher,
Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York
[Editor’s Note: Roger Caiazza confronts a Democrat Assembyman in Kathy Hochul’s New York and finds a Climate Act lemming determined to remain ignorant and loyal to his leader.]
I attended a town hall meeting for the 2023 Budget sponsored my New York State Assemblyman, Al Stirpe, to explain why I am opposed to any legislation in the budget supporting implementation of any aspect of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act). The meeting format did not lend itself to presenting anything as detailed as the comments I wanted to make. This post documents the Climate Act-related issues that came up at the meeting and the comments I wanted to make.
This is another article about my evaluation of the Climate Act that I have written because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy embodied in the Climate Act outstrip available renewable technology such that the net-zero transition will do more harm than good. Moreover, the costs will be enormous and hurt those least able to afford increased costs the most. I have worked over 40 years as an air pollution meteorologist in the electrical generating sector. After retirement, I served as Director of the Environmental Energy Alliance of New York, and later started the Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog that debates the challenges of balancing the risks and benefits of environmental issues. The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.
Everyone wants to do right by the environment to the extent that they can afford to and not be unduly burdened by the effects of environmental policies. New York environmental policies have lost sight of the need to balance the risks and benefits of environmental initiatives. I submitted comments on the Climate Act Scoping Plan and have prepared a layman’s summary of issues associated with the Climate Act. Those resources provide more backup to the references linked in the following.
Assemblyman Stirpe took an hour to go through the proposed legislative budget. He went through quite a bit of detail of all the components. The Climate Act component of the discussion was no more than five minutes of the presentation.
I got to the meeting a little early and there were people talking about the effects of the Climate Act, especially the electric vehicle mandate and the gas ban. Clearly, they were not in favor of either component. Someone in the audience made the point that most people still aren’t aware of the ramifications of the Climate Act and suggested that more outreach would have been appropriate. His response insinuated that people were getting wrong information from the fossil fuel interests. Several other people made comments that were skeptical of the rationale of an existential threat from climate change and others complained about components of the Climate Act.
Mr. Stirpe incorrectly responded to a couple of comments. To the climate change is not that big a deal he said he has been shoveling less snow and insinuated that climate change was to blame. I pointed out that he did not know the difference between weather and climate. Near the end of the meeting he insinuated that air quality has not improved much since 1970 and the first earth day. I was tempted to respond at the meeting but by that point everyone was tired and I thought he wouldn’t appreciate my response. The fact is that according to the EPA Air Quality Trends websiteNortheast air quality improvements from 2000 to 2021 have been significant:
- Carbon monoxide has decreased 61%;
- Nitrogen dioxide has decreased 35%;
- Sulfur dioxide has decreased 90%;
- Ozone has decreased 16%;
- Particulate matter has decreased 31%; and
- Inhalable particulate matter has decreased 43%.
Air quality is much better than it has been in the past. This misunderstanding is particularly problematic for a New York legislator because EJ activists, believe the PEAK coalition conclusion that “Fossil peaker plants in New York City are perhaps the most egregious energy-related example of what environmental injustice means today” and are putting tremendous pressure on the legislature to act. However, the analysis that forms the basis of that conclusion is flawed. The health impacts claimed are for ozone and inhalable particulates that are secondary pollutants that form far downwind of the adjoining neighborhoods.
My Climate Act Comments
I gave Assemblyman Stirpe a document with the following information.
I am opposed to any legislation implementing the Climate Act because the Hochul Administration has not done a feasibility analysis that proves that the Scoping Plan list of control strategies can maintain current levels of reliability, will be affordable, and will not do more environmental harm than good. I have written over 290 articles on my Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog about the Climate Act and I am convinced that the state is on a dangerous path.
New York greenhouse gas emissions are less than one half percent of global emissions per year but global greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing by more than one half percent per year on average since 1993. Anything we do will be supplanted by emissions elsewhere in less than a year. That does not mean we should not do something but it does mean that we can take the time to do it right.
The New York Independent System Operator recently published “Information for Policy Makers” that summarizes their activities “to design and implement the operations, planning and market enhancements necessary for the grid in transition.” I have noted that their work describes the situation well. New York electric gird is a complex system that has evolved over many years. It is a highly reliable system using proven hardware and procedures.
Reliance on unprecedented levels of wind and solar has not been demonstrated successfully anywhere. The energy storage system technology to account for intermittent wind and solar has not been tested on the scale necessary for the proposed use. These facts make it an ill-conceived plan that will likely end in blackout. Furthermore, the rush to electrify everything is not safe. What will happen when everything has been converted to electricity and there is an ice storm?
The Scoping Plan does not include a detailed accounting of the costs to consumers. The administration claims that the costs of inaction are greater than the costs of action but that claim is misleading and inaccurate. It is misleading because the Scoping Plan costs of action only includes the costs of the Climate Act and do not include all the costs to meet the net-zero by 2050 target, including vehicle electrification. It is inaccurate because it double counts the societal benefits of reductions.
The Climate Act only accounts for fossil fuel life-cycle costs and environmental impacts while ignoring the lifecycle impacts of wind, solar, and energy storage technologies. Those “zero-emissions” resources may not have emissions when generating electricity but the volume of materials needed to access dilute wind and solar energy and the rare earth elements necessary for those technologies certainly have environmental impacts when mined and processed.
The large number of wind turbines and solar panels will also create massive amounts of waste when they are retired. Furthermore, the cumulative environmental impacts of thousands of wind turbines and square miles of solar panels has not been evaluated for the levels proposed in the Scoping Plan.
Opposition to Following Legislation
My submittal noted that I oppose the following legislative proposals. I oppose all components of the NY Renews Climate Jobs, and Justice package including the Climate and Community Protection Fund as well as the following specific bills:
- A4592/S2016 “NY Home Energy Affordable Transition Act” – Aligns utility regulation with state climate justice and emission reduction targets; repeals provisions relating to continuation of gas service; repeals provisions relating to the sale of indigenous natural gas for generation of electricity.
- A4306/S732 DEC to establishe a carbon dioxide emissions price for electric generation from carbon-based fuel; creates a carbon dioxide emissions fund; distribute revenue to low-income individuals and communities and to support mass transit.
- A920/S562 the “all-electric building act” provides that the state energy conservation construction code shall prohibit infrastructure, building systems, or equipment used for the combustion of fossil fuels in new construction statewide no later than December 31, 2023 if the building is less than seven stories and July 1, 2027 if the building is seven stories or more.
- A279/S4134“New York State Build Public Renewables Act”; requires the New York power authority to provide only renewable energy and power to customers; requires such authority to be the sole provider of energy to all state owned and municipal properties; requires certain New York power authority projects and programs pay a prevailing wage and utilize project labor agreements.
- S4854/no same as. Requires agencies to develop recommendations regarding the establishment of microgrids at critical facilities.
- A4393/S2007. Establishing a one hundred percent clean renewable energy system for electricity by two thousand thirty-four; such energy system shall include solar, wind, geothermal and tidal sources.
- A4866. “fossil fuel facilities replacement and redevelopment blueprint act” requires NYSERDA, DPS and DEC to prepare a blueprint to guide the replacement and redevelopment of the oldest and most-polluting fossil fuel facilities and their sites by 2030.
- A411/S3581 Declares a climate emergency and places a ban on fossil fuel infrastructure projects but shall not apply to repair or maintenance of existing infrastructure.
Support for following legislation:
I listed the following two legislative proposals as ones I think will help address my concerns.
- S2030/no same as Directs the public service commission in consultation with NYSERDA to conduct a full cost benefit analysis of the technical and economic feasibility of renewable energy systems in the state of New York and to compare such directly with other methods of electricity generation within nine months after the effective date and every four years thereafter.
- A4999/S2474 Directs the state energy planning board to conduct a study of the technical and economic feasibility of a one hundred percent renewable energy system and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
I don’t think Assemblyman Stirpe understands just how poorly informed he is because of the mis-information in the Scoping Plan and the constant propaganda from the media and climate activists. I had offered in the past to give him a briefing but he refused. I do not expect to hear anything as a result of the comment I gave him. If did respond I would ask him to put pressure on the Hochul Administration to give a full accounting of the costs, do a feasibility study of the effects on electric system reliability and do a cumulative environmental impact analysis of the Scoping Plan recommendations for wind and solar resources. Until the Scoping Plan is proven to be feasible, it is inappropriate to support any implementing legislation.
Roger Caiazza blogs on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York. This represents his opinion and not the opinion of any of his previous employers or any other company with which he has been associated.
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