A new bill by state Sen. Jen Metzger would put a moratorium on state permits for gas-fired power plants, oil pipelines and other fossil-fuel infrastructure until the state has plotted a course to using only renewable energy sources by 2030 if possible or by 2040 at the latest.
Metzger, a Rosendale Democrat who led the nonprofit Citizens for Local Power before being elected to the Senate in November, held a press conference in Albany on Monday with the bill’s Assembly sponsor, Nily Rozic, and other supporters of the Freedom From Fossil Fuels Act.
“The urgency of climate change requires a rapid transition to clean energy,” Metzger said in a statement afterward. “We cannot achieve that transition, or the economic benefits to New York that it promises, if we continue to invest in new fossil fuel infrastructure and extend our dependence on fracked gas and oil from out of state.”
The bill would remove gas, oil and coal from the state’s energy plan and infuse it with green priorities, adding the mitigation of climate change and reduction of carbon emissions as its goals. It also would require the plan to consider the climate impact of all state energy policies and programs.
Sen. Pete Harckham, a fellow Democratic freshman from Westchester County who co-sponsored the bill, said: “Fossil fuels are killing our planet and New York State must end the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure and proactively shift to clean energy. This legislation will set the state on the right path to help mitigate the effects of climate change, and to ensure that our economy is based on clean, renewable sources.”
Among the environmental activists who joined them at the press conference was Andy Bicking, director of public policy for Scenic Hudson. In a statement, Bicking called the bill “visionary” for recognizing “the urgency of taking more direct and immediate action to confront the climate crisis” and offering “a framework for incorporating land-use planning” into a statewide strategy to speed the transition to renewable energy.
Bicking also cheered the bill’s proposal to increase the number of regional energy-plan councils to nine from two and expand their membership to “ensure that all people have a seat at the table.”
Metzger sponsored a bill earlier this year that would encourage the purchase of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids by exempting the first $35,000 of a vehicle’s cost from state sales tax.
Anagnostakis seeks probe of Valley View’s past interest
Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis announced last week that he’s asking the state Comptroller’s Office to investigate what became of past interest earned by the county’s nursing home, following the recent pledge by county officials to pay the home $600,000 in interest for last year alone.
The decision to forward those earnings acted as a sort of counterweight to a new county policy of charging the home for the services of other departments, like the County Attorney’s Office and Information Technology. After billing the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation in this year’s budget, lawmakers voted this month to claw back another $1.6 million for 2017 services, over the protests of Anagnostakis and other Valley View advocates.
County officials argued they were merely restoring a past accounting practice now that the 360-bed home is financially stable, and said they would take the additional step of sending Valley View the massive interest generated last year by its cash reserves, which grew to $55 million. That raised a question for Anagnostakis: What did those officials and the previous administration do with all the interest Valley View earned in prior years?
Anagnostakis, a Town of Newburgh Republican who delved into Valley View’s finances while fighting past attempts to privatize the home, said in a statement that the home had $9 million in its reserves as early as 2000 and had added more each year.
“Since that time, each and every year many millions, and in some years many tens of millions, of dollars of Valley View cash have been earning interest — interest that can ONLY legally be received by Valley View — yet Valley View had never collected a single penny of it, ” he said. “That’s a hell of a lot of interest that was earned during that time!”
State Sen. James Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat, issued a statement last week condemning the Valley View billing, saying, “It is disheartening and fundamentally wrong to see the county cut millions of dollars that should’ve been invested in our community’s seniors and veterans at Valley View.”
Compiled by Chris McKenna