New York Environmental Legislation In 2019

Author:Mr Michael Gerrard and Edward McTiernan
Profession:Arnold & Porter

In 2019, with the Democrats newly in full control of the State Senate, the Assembly and the Governor's office, New York adopted more environmental legislation than it had in more than a decade. This included a sweeping climate change statute, a new environmental justice article in the Environmental Conservation Law, and a statewide ban on plastic carryout bags. This annual survey reports on these developments and numerous other laws targeting environmental concerns.

Climate Change and Energy

In July, New York enacted the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) (Chapter 106), which set statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits of 60% of 1990 emissions by 2030 and 15% of 1990 emissions by 2050. The governor's signing in December of an environmental justice bill (discussed below) triggered a Jan. 1, 2020 effective date for CLCPA, setting deadlines for many of its interim requirements. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) must promulgate regulations by Jan. 1, 2024 to achieve CLCPA's emissions limits. A scoping plan developed by a 22-member Climate Action Council will inform those regulations. The draft scoping plan is due by Jan. 1, 2022, and the final plan by Jan. 1, 2023. DEC, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the Public Service Commission (PSC) have many other duties under CLCPA, including setting a social cost of carbon for use by state agencies, establishing a renewable energy program to achieve zero emissions from electricity by 2040, and creating programs to meet statutory targets for offshore wind generation, photovoltaic generation, and energy storage. CLCPA also contains "just transition" and climate justice provisions. We discussed CLCPA's implications for the electric system, transportation, and buildings in our July column.

The budget legislation included the New York State Bag Waste Reduction Act, which bans entities that collect sales tax from distributing plastic carryout bags starting on March 1, 2020 (Chapter 58, Part H).

Smaller-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency measures were also passed, including budget bill provisions for a renewable energy and energy efficiency program in Westchester County (Chapter 58, Part UU) and for property tax advantages for real property that hosts certain renewable energy and energy storage systems (Chapter 59, Part AA). The governor vetoed a bill that would have required the PSC to establish a renewable energy...

To continue reading