New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (SB S6599)

Passed in July of 2019, New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) (Senate Bill S6599) commits the state of New York to integrated climate adaptation planning and climate justice. In addition to aggressive climate mitigation goals - including zero GHG emissions by 2050 and 100% renewable electricity usage by 2040 - the Act aims to address adaptation and resilience across state programming, land use planning, and local government support.

First, the Act tasks the Department of Environmental Conservation with assessing all reasonably foreseeable risks of climate change on proposed projects and identifying which risks are the most significant. Issues to be considered should include sea-level rise, storm surges, flooding, and temperature and precipitation changes, among others. Second, it also mandates that developers who apply for regulatory permitting through the Department of Environmental Conservation - a process enabled by the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) - demonstrate that future climate risks have been considered.

The Act also updates the ECL. Under the ECL, the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation may authorize, on a competitive basis, assistance payments to a municipality for the cost of any climate adaptation projects. CLCPA adds two types of projects that may now be included. Such projects may now include those which enable communities to become eligible and certified under the Climate Smart Communities funding program. Qualified projects may now include climate change adaptation plans, assessments, and studies.

The CLCPA also prioritizes environmental justice and equity in many of its mandates. It requires that a significant portion of the benefits of its mitigation programs go to historically “disadvantaged communities.” Disadvantaged communities are to be identified by a wide variety of criteria to include those communities burdened by negative public health effects, and those vulnerable to climate impacts, like flooding, storm surges, and urban heat island effects.

The Act establishes a Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG) that will advise the Climate Action Council - a 22-member body composed of state agency heads, experts, and state legislators tasked with developing proposals on how the state can meet CLCPA goals - on ways to address environmental justice and to benefit disadvantaged communities. The CJWG will also outline criteria for addressing disadvantaged communities, such as through considerations of public health, environmental hazards, and socioeconomics. The CJWG, in assessing ways to benefit such communities, should consider distributing mitigation tools, like renewable energy generators and energy efficiency systems, as well as implementing adaptation measures to improve community resilience. These types of measure may include adapting homes and local infrastructure, or building needed facilities like cooling shelters for heat waves, flooding shelters, or medical treatment areas for conditions, like asthma, that may be exacerbated by climate-related events.

 

Publication Date: July 18, 2019

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  • State of New York

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