Calls grow for fossil fuel giants to pay into $75B fund to reverse climate change

Spectrum News NY1: Calls are growing for Gov. Kathy Hochul to include policy in her executive budget proposal that would force fossil fuel companies to pay billions of dollars to reverse the impacts of climate change in New York.

The efforts come as state senators in the Finance, Environmental Conservation and Energy and Telecommunications committees will hold a hearing Thursday to examine what lawmakers need to do to achieve New York’s climate goals required under the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“At that hearing, one of the key issues is, how do you pay for these changes?” New York Public Interest Research Group Executive Director Blair Horner said Wednesday.

Horner is scheduled to testify to lawmakers on the subject during the hearing.

New York has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 to satisfy the law. But state officials, lawmakers and experts continue to squabble over the best way to pay for infrastructure upgrades needed to transition to renewable energy.

The Climate Change Superfund Act would force fossil fuel companies to pick up the tab and pay into a $75 billion fund for 25 years, averaging $3 billion annually.

“They’re making more profits now than they’ve ever made, and they’re responsible,” Horner said. “They knew that the problem of climate change was going to happen and for decades, denied and undermined advocacy.”

The proposal was expanded from its initial of $30 billion over a decade.

Localities would work with state agencies for the monies collected in hopes of removing the cost from taxpayers.

Climate change has led to rising sea levels and more intense storms, with the state receiving more than $26 billion in federal disaster assistance for 16 declared disasters over the last decade, according to FEMA data compiled by Rebuild By Design.

Advocates say the frequency, severity and dire cost of the storms throughout the state’s 62 counties prove time is of the essence for the fund to be established. The most recent snowstorm that ravaged Western New York over Christmas weekend killed more than 40 people. Read more>>