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Comments to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and NYSERDA on Proposed Cap-and-Invest Program

In 2019, New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. The Climate Act set economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions limits, including reducing emissions to 85% below a 1990 baseline, and established the Climate Action Council, which was tasked with developing recommendations for attaining those limits and reducing emissions beyond those limits. In its Scoping Plan, the Climate Action Council ultimately recommended implementation of a cap-and-invest program to meet the Climate Act’s requirements.

At Governor Hochul’s direction, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) are now developing such a cap-and-invest program. In preparation for developing a proposal, over the course of June 2023, DEC and NYSERDA conducted a preliminary stakeholder outreach process consisting of a series of online Stakeholder Feedback Sessions followed by an informal comment opportunity.

On Friday, June 30, Policy Integrity filed comments focused on the scope and structure of the stakeholder outreach process. We emphasized the need for coordination with various initiatives specific to the electric sector, which has its own distinct greenhouse gas limits under the Climate Act. Additionally, we stressed the need to hear from stakeholders familiar with Public Service Commission (PSC) programs, as the PSC is directed by the Climate Act to develop emissions reduction programs specifically for the electric sector. Outside of the scope and structure of the stakeholder process, we also discuss the importance of allowance tradeability for achieving economic efficiency, the risk of allowance trading exacerbating the environmental justice gap, and the opportunity to tailor policy design to avoid such negative outcomes.