Protests interrupt NY DEC hearing on energy

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation sat before a joint committee Monday morning to discuss the state’s investment in improving the environment in the upcoming budget.

That hearing was quickly interrupted by advocates offering their own two cents worth.

“The time for action on climate is now, especially in the absence of federal leadership,” Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said.

As New York is unsure how much if any federal help they will receive under President Trump.

Commissioner Seggos says this committee may have to tackle climate change alone.

The budget includes $2 billion over five years to address city and school drinking water, $41 million to address wastewater treatment facilities and energy programs to reduce CO2 emissions by 25,000 tons a year.

Just 10 minutes in and members from New York Renews stood up to say the governor needs to spend more time and energy on renewable energy.

“We know that that creates tens of thousands of jobs, the question is does the governor have the political will to take on Trump,” Pete Sikora, New York Community for Change, said.

These advocates support legislation sponsored by Chair Steve Englebright that would require New York to have zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Governor Cuomo is doing almost zero to turn our transportation and building and other sectors into  100 percent clean energy economy.”

Last year, the Climate and Community Protection Act passed the Assembly but was referred to the Environmental Conservation committee in the Senate.

“I think a more pressing need that we have right now is aging and failing infrastructure around the state when it comes to water and waste-water,” Assemblyman Dan Stec, (R) 114th district, said.

Stec believes the state needs to keep the focus now on clean water rather than renewables.

“I question whether they have adequate staffing for the work that is already tasked to them,” Stec said.

The commissioner says the staff is not an issue, what is, is where the state will invest to improve the State of New York and if lawmakers will agree.

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