Separating Fact from Fiction: Setting the Record Straight on New York’s Climate Law

Don’t be fooled by the fossil-fueled campaigns to delay climate progress. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is New York State’s chance for a cleaner, healthier future.

Scientists around the globe agree that the burning of coal, gas, and oil produces greenhouse gases that are dangerously heating up the planet. Last year was the hottest year on record, and the summer of 2024 is predicted to be a scorcher too. Across the United States, governments must deeply and quickly cut emissions in order to do their part to avoid a catastrophic escalation of flooding, heat waves, drought, and species extinction.

A world map plotted with color blocks depicting percentiles of global average land and ocean temperatures for the full year 2023


That’s where New York’s landmark climate law—the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA)—comes into play. The CLCPA requires New York State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, and 85 percent by 2050, from 1990 levels; invest in 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035; and establish a 100 percent clean electrical grid by 2040, among other green goals. A big part of reducing emissions is focused on New York’s six million buildings, which are responsible for more than one-third of statewide greenhouse gas emissions and must reach carbon neutrality through the electrification of heating, cooling, and cooking.

However, the fossil fuel industry sees the transition to electrified heating and hot water in homes and businesses as damaging to their bottom line because it substitutes clean, renewable electricity for the dirty fossil fuels that they’re selling. Historically, the fossil fuel lobby has fought against the transition to solar, wind, hydropower, and electric vehicles around the globe. It’s no different here in New York State. In fact, last fall, the Business Council of New York State announced a $1 million campaign to slow down the state’s transition to renewable energy that was mandated by the CLCPA.

Heather Mulligan, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State, admitted that it was “essential to push a green economy” but worried that the transition to renewables might “damage New York’s families and businesses.” Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, darkly warned that implementing climate policy “is guaranteed…to accelerate New York’s nation-worst out-migration trend.” But in fact, the clean energy transition will attract huge investment, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and save billions in health costs as a result of cleaner air.

Fossil fuel companies even started a corporate front group, known as New Yorkers for Affordable Energy (NY4AE) to run ads that oppose CLCPA provisions and misinform New Yorkers about the climate law. NY4AE is an organization that presents itself as “grassroots,” but in its filing with the IRS, the organization writes of its aim “to expand natural gas service.” The propane industry has also gotten in on the action of attempting to undermine the CLCPA. The industry’s social media ads claim that heat pumps are budget busters and unreliable in cold weather, but both claims are untrue.

An investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative found that, since 2016, a multifaceted campaign by the fossil fuel industry has aimed to shape public opinion and influence political decision makers in New York State by spending more than $15.5 million on lobbyists to advance fossil fuel infrastructure. The campaign has donated more than $1.4 million dollars to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and funded polished propaganda efforts to mislead the public and policymakers about the impacts of fossil fuel consumption and climate mitigation.

And the efforts of the fossil fuel industry to block New York State from achieving its climate goals is having real-world consequences. For example, the New York HEAT Act was left out of the fiscal year 2025 state budget, in part because of opposition and misinformation from the western New York gas-only utility National Fuel.

When it comes to the fossil fuel industry’s lies, legislators and residents alike need to resist the hype. Let’s take a look at the main points of misinformation currently being peddled by the fossil fuel industry.

CLAIM: The CLCPA will result in higher energy costs for ratepayers because it is costly to implement.

The climate crisis itself is costly. The United States has seen more than $2.2 trillion in losses to climate-related disasters since 1980, with more than 40 percent of those losses having occurred since 2017. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New York saw 28 separate billion-dollar weather- and climate-related disaster events in 2023, up from 22 events in 2020. The total cost of these events in 2023 alone exceeded $92.9 billion. Property and building damage from increased extreme weather events and the enormous health costs from burning fossil fuels (which causes thousands of asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and missed school and work)—all of that goes into a larger accounting that proves there is a real cost to inaction today and in the long term for New Yorkers.

The oil and gas front has spread disinformation about costs, but the fact is, in new construction, as mandated by New York’s nation-leading All-Electric Building Act, heat from electric heat pumps is cheaper than heating with gas in new buildings. Some of these clean energy technologies will cost more up front—the offshore wind industry has incurred added costs given pressures on supply chains. But the costs of fossil fuels also fluctuate wildly (as seen by the price shocks on utility bills as a result of the invasion of Ukraine), and ultimately, that price is largely set by foreign dictators and the highly concentrated market controlled by Big Oil. 

CLAIM: The CLCPA will reduce the reliability of energy delivered to homes and businesses.

The framework outlined by the CLCPA-mandated Scoping Plan provides pathways for a planned and orderly transition to a clean, resilient energy future. The idea of a regenerative rather than an extractive economy strikes fear in the fossil fuel industry, which has been making record profits from recent price fluctuations and market volatility; in reality, reliability failures are often due to fossil-fueled superstorms and the historical lack of investment in our nation’s aging infrastructure. By contrast, homegrown renewable energy can and will be more resilient, more plentiful, and more cost-effective than finite oil and gas resources.

CLAIM: Your gas stove is going to be taken away from you.

No one is going to rip the gas stove out of your home. Just like no one is going to stop you from smoking cigarettes—but consumers know it’s bad for them due to warning labels. Combusting fossil fuels in your home is also bad for your lungs, and we should have warning labels on stoves as well.

CLAIM: There will be an adverse impact on the state’s overall economic climate that will discourage new investments and job growth.

New York’s clean energy industry has only grown stronger since passing the CLCPA in 2019. In fact, prior to 2019, New York ranked fourth in the nation for clean energy jobs—New York is now third in the nation for clean energy jobs, with more than 166,000 workers, and these jobs have been found to pay more than 20 percent higher than the state’s median wage. But these jobs are just getting started, with the offshore wind industry being expected to add more than 10,000 jobs in New York, and there have been hundreds of millions of dollars of clean energy investments announced as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.

It is beyond dispute: As 2023 delivered the hottest year in recorded history, violent hurricanes and flooding caused destruction, and extreme wildfires created equally extreme pollution—including New York’s choking, smoggy skies, courtesy of Quebec’s forest fires—it’s clear that the continued rate of burning fossil fuels threatens our planet. Worse, the cost of doing nothing and continuing to burn fossil fuels will result in a planet that is unrecognizable and possibly uninhabitable. Don’t be fooled by the multimillion-dollar campaigns funded by fossil fuel interests to delay climate progress. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is New York State’s chance for a cleaner, healthier future.

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