Environment and Energy

Key Web Links for Green Initiatives

Keep tabs on climate change at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies. Read about the roadmap to green collar jobs at Urban Agenda.

NY Senate, Assembly pass green jobs bill

(NEW YORK STATE SENATE): On September10, the New York State Senate passed the grounbreaking Green Jobs/Green NY bill, a measure that will create thousands of jobs across the state and help hundreds of thousands of families and businesses from Montauk to Buffalo save up to a billion dollars annually in energy costs. The bill, which passed the Senate 52-8 and passed the Assembly unanimously, is a major step toward rebuilding New York’s crippled economy and rescuing the state’s energy consumers.

Senator Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent), chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and lead sponsor of the bill said: “This program will create jobs, save consumers on their energy bills and help get our economy back on track. By passing the Green Jobs/Green New York Act today with bipartisan support we have taken an important step toward improving our economy and helping our environment. This bill encourages conservation, helps consumers with the cost of capital improvements to their homes and businesses, and creates jobs in the new economy. It’s a win-win for New York State, especially Upstate New York where a well-trained workforce will be in demand to keep the heat in and energy bills down every winter.”
Senator Thomas Morahan (R-New City) said: "About 40 percent of Rockland County's owner-occupied units were built before 1970, making them big energy users. This program would serve "the missing middle" -- owners who surpass the income ceiling for the Weatherization Assistance Program but cannot afford retrofits on their own. Heating an energy-inefficient home  may cost these owners between $ 3,000 and $ 4,000 per year."

Here's how it works:

·         The program will be funded with revenue raised by the auction of carbon emission credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This funding will be used to leverage private and federal investments. The bill allocates $112 million from these auctions to NYSERDA. Auctions of carbon emission credits over the last two years raised $126 million, with an estimated $75 million more expected in the next two auctions this year alone.
·         NYSERDA will establish a revolving loan program to provide up to $13,000 per residential customer to retrofit a home, and up to $26,000 to retrofit each qualifying business, and also conduct energy audits, program administration and a credit enhancement for critical private sector capital investments.
·         In partnership with the Department of Labor, NYSERDA will also create workforce training programs throughout the state to ensure that the state’s workforce is highly trained and in place to handle mass-scale retrofitting.
·         The program will front the cost of the work, enabling property owners to afford energy efficient retrofits. Although property owners will repay the full cost over time, their total energy usage will be reduced by 30-40%, and the loan payment on their energy bill will be less than what they saved, yielding a net saves to the property owner.
·         Local contractors, certified to perform the retrofits will be able to expand their crews, creating new and permanent jobs in green construction and additional jobs in local businesses and manufacturing that serve those new workers.
·         Loans will be eligible to home and business owners in rural and urban communities throughout the state, from Watertown to Montauk and Buffalo to Albany.

There's much more information about the bill, including a FAQ, testimonials from around the state and a video from Senator Eric Schneiderman on our Green Jobs/Green NY Intiatives page.

Scientists: Sea Level Rise will Swamp Subways

subway tunnelScientific predictions of sea level rise in New York City just keep getting higher. In 2006, Vivian Gornitz of Columbia University predicted a rise of from 24 to 108 centimeters by 2080. She noted that many of our subway and road tunnel entrances are less than 3 meters above sea level, leaving them vulnerable to flooding during a "hundred-year" storm. But the effects of global warming make the situation even worse, raising overall water levels so that less severe, more frequent storms will put them at risk (Global and Planetary Change vol 32, p 61). If sea levels had been around half a metre higher during a storm in December 1992, the tunnels would have been inundated, she said then. The most recent predictions are more alarming.They pose another cause of rising sea levels, over and above the melting ice at the poles.



Inclusion Of Water Beverage Containers Will Enhance Recycling Efforts

            Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr. and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney announced today that the SFY 2009-2010 budget expands the state’s Returnable Beverage Law to include water beverage containers under one gallon, which will increase recycling and provide a new revenue stream to New York State.

            The state will place a five cent deposit on water bottles and mandate that box stores over 40,000 square feet have reverse vending machines on their premises to process returnable containers. In addition, 80 percent of all the unclaimed nickels on beverage containers would be remitted to the state.

            “Our environmental protection efforts must remain at the forefront of our priorities, even during this recession.” said Silver (D-Manhattan). “An expanded bottle bill will cut down on litter throughout our state and provide a greater incentive for consumers to recycle. The Assembly has fought for improvements to the bottle bill for years. Today, we are pleased that the law has grown to encourage greater recycling and conservation, while preserving landfill space.”

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