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Court Upholds New York’s Zero-Emissions Credit Program for Nuclear Power

The Albany County Supreme Court rejected a challenge to New York’s Zero-Emissions Credit (ZEC) program, which pays nuclear power plants for the value of avoided carbon emissions. The legal challenge focused largely on the state’s decision to use the Interagency Working Group’s Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) to value emissions.

Petitioners in the case claimed that the Public Service Commission misapplied the SCC. But our amicus brief, which was cited by the court, explained how the Commission used the SCC exactly as intended, to internalize the external cost of carbon emissions. Many other states have adopted the SCC as well. The court held that the Public Service Commission’s use of the Social Cost of Carbon in calculating ZEC payments was well supported, specifically citing evidence showing that the Social Cost of Carbon is the “best tool to reflect the environmental monetary damages attributable to reduced carbon emissions.” Federal courts have previously rejected industry challenges to the ZEC programs in Illinois and New York.