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Impacts of the NY CLCPA

Posted: February 15th, 2022

Authors: Daniel B. 

New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: How Will it Impact My Facility?

New York State’s implementation of its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) has recently made headlines after the October 27, 2021 move by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to deny air permits to two natural gas power plants in the New York City metro area. The denial was made on the grounds that neither facility demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the CLCPA to show how the facilities would implement reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). This decision is one of the first major regulatory actions in an ongoing shift in the landscape of regulation and environmental justice. If you are wondering what this means for the future of regulation in the state of New York and how the CLCPA will affect your facility, you are not alone.

What Is The New York CLCPA?

Effective January 1, 2020, the CLCPA (SB S6599) mandates reductions of GHG emissions within the state to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050. The law also requires that at least 35% of the overall benefits of state spending on climate change mitigation investments will go to disadvantaged communities. The scope of the law is broad, but the initial focus has been on de-carbonizing both the energy and transportation sectors. Implementation of the law requires the NYSDEC to evaluate the potential impacts of certain industrial sectors on the state’s GHG reduction targets and on disadvantaged communities when reviewing permit applications.

How Will The CLCPA Affect My Facility?

To achieve the decarbonization required by the act, the state of New York will need to rapidly eliminate carbon emissions from the energy sector while increasing electricity production for the transportation sector. This will require the state to incentivize the development of renewable energy infrastructure and a broader market for carbon offset credits. The message to facilities that currently burn fossil fuels to produce electricity or process heat is that they must either find a way to offset these emissions or shift to renewable sources of energy.

Consider the following questions if you think your facility may be affected by the CLCPA:

  1. Is my facility in an industry directly affected by the CLCPA?

As of October 2021, the facilities that have been directly affected have been large utilities in environmental justice (EJ) regions of New York state that use natural gas and other fossil fuels to produce energy. The scope of affected facilities is likely to grow as the state continues to implement the new law.

  1. Is my facility located within an EJ area?

Use this link to view a map of EJ regions within New York state: NY DEC Potential Environmental Justice Areas
Facilities within EJ regions may be under increased pressure to shift to renewables and may experience obstacles to permitting new fossil-fuel burning infrastructure development.

  1. What is my organization’s plan for the future of the facility?

Facilities that are planning infrastructure investments in fossil-fuel burning equipment will need to assess the applicability of the CLCPA on their regulatory requirements and plan accordingly. For many existing facilities, offsetting carbon emissions via carbon credits or transitioning to carbon-neutral practices may be the best strategy in the near term while the implementation of the law takes shape.

  1. Do I need to submit an evaluation of applicability to the NYSDEC?

As of now, the NYSDEC is not requesting pro-active evaluations of applicability by facilities within the state. Future permitting policy may require facilities to demonstrate how their operations are compatible with the legal requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set forth by the CLCPA.

However, based on the NYSDEC determination to deny air permits to two natural gas facilities in October 2021, it may behoove facilities to proactively address the CLCPA and, at the very least, provide information to aid NYSDEC in the evaluations the agency is mandated to undertake as part of their review.

Will Other States Follow The Example Of The CLCPA?

Historically, actions by states with greater economic influence have rippled through the national landscapes of energy, industry, and environmental policy. In the absence of stronger federal action, it is logical to assume that other states will draft climate change legislation of their own, further widening the scope of affected facilities. For example, New Jersey has its own Global Warming Response Act (SB 3207), passed in 2019. As of 2021, twenty-four US states have adopted policies to create specific greenhouse gas reduction targets to address climate change. A total of 33 states have released a climate action plan or are in the process of developing one. With the passage of the CLCPA in New York, we can expect these states to receive greater pressure to draft these policies and plans into binding laws.

How Can ALL4 Help?

Climate change legislation and greenhouse gas emissions reduction have always been and continue to be complex and contested topics in air quality. The implementation of the CLCPA is just the latest in what are sure to be many more air quality related regulatory changes in the future. ALL4 will continue to follow developments around the CLCPA closely. Please reach out to me at 610.422.1108 or dbrese@all4inc.com if you have any questions about how the CLCPA could affect your facility.


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