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Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
“Keep your eye on this new bureaucracy”
ALBANY, July 14, 2019 -- A former head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation recently remarked, “It’s daunting in a way. It is going to affect every aspect of New Yorkers’ lives.”
He was referring to this year’s action by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled state Legislature, in the closing days of the 2019 legislative session, to enact the “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” (S6599/A8429). The governor will sign it into law soon and, in doing so, start New York down a long (and costly) road of reimagining our energy lives to cut statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050 and attain net zero emissions in all economic sectors.
Daunting is an understatement. To get straight to my point: it’s potentially another government boondoggle in the making.
Consider the following from an article in Politico NY: “Heating fuels will have to be virtually eliminated and replaced with electric heat pumps or other non-emitting technology. Diesel trucks and gas cars that the state can control must be phased out. Manufacturers of copper, steel, cement, pulp and aluminum will face higher energy costs. Renewable energy projects must be built at a pace not yet seen in New York.” The article continues that while efforts are already underway to boost investments in alternative energy, “the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires a comprehensive plan and new bureaucracies to craft it.”
Right there is one bright warning sign flashing what lies ahead: new bureaucracies to craft it.
New bureaucracies indeed. A politically appointed “Climate Action Council” gets overriding authority to make unprecedented decisions. A tangle of other committees will be set up including advisory panels on transportation, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, and agriculture and forestry. Something called a “Just Transition Working Group” will focus on workforce retraining and the overall impact on jobs. There will be an Environmental Justice Advisory Board, Environmental Justice Interagency Coordinating Council, Climate Justice Working Group, and so forth.
Experience tells us that the creation of a bureaucratic maze like this one usually winds up with government being unable to find its way out, and future generations of taxpayers left footing the bill.
I voted no. So did many Republican colleagues, including one who rightly noted that leaving this decision-making power to an unelected, unaccountable climate council with “unchecked control over wide swaths of the economy, of day-to-day life, for generations of New Yorkers” should make us all uneasy.
It could ultimately constitute New York government’s largest-ever bureaucracy with the power over the next thirty years to dictate and impose enormously expensive actions. Believe me, the infrastructure costs alone will be astounding.
And for what guaranteed benefit? The move toward cleaner, renewable energy is undeniable. That doesn’t mean, as elected officials, we simply ignore the public expense and the public consequences.
That does not mean that what you decide to do -- and why -- gets reduced to a political goal, which is what Governor Cuomo implied in a radio interview in late June when he said, “We have the highest goals in the nation. California was a lead on this issue. If you actually looked at the goals, our goals were more aggressive than California. This law codifies that, but we were already the nation’s leading.”
In other words, is this just another push by another band of this era’s enormously ambitious, far-left, progressive politicians to be “first” at all costs?
Ambition of this kind rarely, if ever, ends well for local cultures, local governments, local economies, local taxpayers -- or local futures.
Photo in text: State Senator
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael
Lausell, Van Harp
Bottom row: Carl Blowers, David Reed, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
David M. Reed
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Harriett Vickio, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E.
United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address: http://schumer.senate.gov/webform.html
United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451
State Senator Tom O'Mara
-- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca
(Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791