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Need for balance, common sense on NY’s energy future

The cost of a gallon of gas keeps climbing. The warnings keep coming over significantly higher home heating costs this winter and who knows how many winters to come.

All of this, as well as the fast approaching start of a new legislative session in January, helped make for good timing on last week’s listening session in the Southern Tier on a piece of legislation that, if it’s enacted, could reach into the wallets of everyday New Yorkers and cut into the bottom lines of New York employers even more.

Specifically, we hosted a roundtable discussion in Corning on legislation (S4264/A6967), known as the “Climate and Community Investment Act” (CCIA). Introduced earlier this year by the Democrat majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly, the measure proposes accelerated state-level actions to achieve broad and far-reaching climate change policies. Of course, to help pay for it, it includes a new 55-cents-pergallon gas tax as well as increased taxes on heating oil, propane, and natural gas, which is estimated to increase home heating fuel costs by 26%.

The CCIA is projected to raise $15 billion annually in new and increased fees and taxes levied on New Yorkers individually, hospitals, schools, colleges, and businesses. Keep in mind that New York State accounts for just approximately 0.5% of global carbon emissions and the CCIA will only apply to New York - - not to neighboring states. Nor does it apply to China, India or Russia, which account for 40% of global emissions.

Further, a true, full cost-benefit analysis to show the public in a transparent way what this will cost them, and what we’ll gain, has not been required of the precursor of the CCIA, the previously enacted Climate Leadership and Climate Protection Act (CLCPA) and the Climate Action Council (CAC), which has not completed their recommendations. We have sponsored legislation (S7321/A7524) to required this full costbenefit analysis for the public. It is imperative that it be required and completed.

The CCIA is a bad move, to say the least, in our view. New Yorkers are already being hit by so many higher costs across the board and now is no time for state government to make it worse, all in the name of progressive politics. And especially not when the Albany powers that be already raised taxes in this year’s state budget by more than $4 billion to help pay for a whopping $18 billion in increased spending – with $2 billion of that increase going to illegal immigrants for COVID unemployment benefits for the loss of jobs they weren’t legally allowed to have in the first place (and, all the while, New York still owes the feds $9 billion for unemployment funds borrowed during COVID and no effort has been made to pay it down. This

inaction has resulted in significantly increased unemployment insurance rates to all businesses, despite state tax and revenue receipts exceeding budgeted expectations by $8 billion this year.)

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