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Amicus Brief on New York’s Zero Emissions Credits and the Social Cost of Carbon

In 2016, the New York Public Service Commission adopted the Clean Energy Standard, an ambitious plan to increase renewable generation to 50% of the market by 2030. While working toward that goal, the State found it was necessary to pay nuclear generators through a zero-emissions credits (ZECs) system, as compensation for the value they provide in avoiding emissions. The State found that this would help guard against an increase in pollution if the nuclear generators were to close.

Our amicus brief to the Supreme Court of New York in Albany County argues that the Commission’s decision to base ZEC prices on the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) was reasonable. Petitioners in the case claim that the Commission misapplied the SCC, but the Commission used the SCC in just the way it was meant to be used – to assess the value of avoided carbon damages. And the Commission’s decision to base the price for ZECs on the SCC was reasonable because it internalizes the external cost of carbon emissions. We also argue that the decision had substantial support in the regulatory record. For these reasons, we argue that the court should deny the petition.

*Read about our past litigation work on New York’s Zero Emissions Credits Program*.