Climate and community investment law proposed in Albany

Lawmakers are reacting to what one group says is a 55-cent-per-gallon tax hike on gasoline.

BUFFALO, NY — We continue to answer your questions as you send them to our newsroom.

Ryan H. asked, “I’d like to know if it’s true that New York State legislators and the Governor are secretly trying to impose a 55-cent gas tax hike to help address the state deficit?

To answer Ryan’s question, we found the bill he is talking about. It’s not a secret and it’s not done in secret. Anyone can find the information by searching the New York State Senate and Assembly websites by going to the “bills and laws” section.

The bill is also called the “Climate and Community Investment Act” and its main sponsors are non-Western New York lawmakers. The sole co-sponsor from Western New York is Assemblyman Jonathan Rivera.

Rivera was unavailable for an interview, but sent us this statement:

“The burden of reversing climate change cannot fall on the shoulders of the middle class. Western New Yorkers are no strangers to pollution and its devastating effects on our waterways, air and soil.

The Climate and Community Investment Act is a step in the right direction to correct the environmental course of neighborhoods here in Western New York that have been impacted by contamination. The companies that have knowingly polluted our communities for decades are the entities that should bear the brunt of this course correction.

The inhabitants most at risk of suffering the effects of pollution are also those who are unable to combat the harmful ramifications of corporate interests on the environment. About 33% of the Climate and Community Investment Act would fund energy rebates for low- and middle-income New Yorkers, nonprofits and small businesses.

The New York State Senate and Assembly bill proposes many things related to the environment to fight climate change and develop and expand clean and renewable energy. It would also establish a climate pollution tax and an energy rebate for households and small businesses. It also pays particular attention to disadvantaged communities and neighborhoods impacted by pollution and climate change.

There is a lot in the bill. It is 73 pages long and is summarized by the bill’s sponsors as seeking to “transition New York to 100% renewable energy, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, protect workers currently in the fuels industry fossils and support the communities most affected by the climate”. change and pollution.”

So now for the part of the bill that Ryan was asking for. The bill says a $55 charge would be imposed per short ton of carbon dioxide equivalent next year.

That doesn’t say anything about a 55-cent-per-gallon tax increase in particular, but that’s where Ryan may have heard it. The Jamestown Post-Journal, among other outlets, published an article last month saying that the Business Council of New York State estimates that gasoline taxes would increase by 55 cents a gallon if this passes.

The bill is in committee in both houses and is expected to pass the Senate and Assembly before being submitted to the governor for approval before becoming law.

We also asked our six Western New York state senators if they supported the bill on Monday.

State Senator Patrick Gallivan released a statement saying in part, “We should be doing more to limit or reduce taxes, not raise them. I urge my colleagues to reject this bill.”

And a spokesperson for State Senator Sean Ryan told 2 On Your Side that Senator Ryan does not support an immediate 55-cent gas tax increase and, “in general, Senator Ryan supports the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address the climate change crisis.”

A spokesperson for Sen. George Borrello also told 2 On Your Side that he opposes the legislation and calls it “another fiscally irresponsible move aimed at placating climate activists at the expense of hard-working residents. small businesses”.

Senator Rob Ortt says in part, “This disconnected bill is just the latest blow to hard-working New Yorkers who will be forced to bear skyrocketing costs at the pumps.”

State Senator Ed Rath said in part, “This will only add to the already overly burdensome taxes and fees we have in our state. We should be helping our hard-working taxpayers and businesses, not increase their already high cost of living and do business in New York State.

We haven’t heard from State Senator Tim Kennedy’s office.

Jill E. Washington