Why Environmental Groups are Backing the NY Heat Act

The bill includes a provision that has the power to curb the expansion of gas infrastructure in New York. “Why put new gas pipes in the ground for new construction, when we’ve already passed laws saying we should be moving away from using gas?” the bill’s sponsor Senator Liz Krueger told City Limits. 

Courtesy Luis Guillermo Garcia

Lawmakers and environmental groups rallying in Albany for passage of the NY Heat Act.

As New York lawmakers debate how to spend billions in the state’s budget, due in early April, environmental groups have joined forces to get a big ticket bill incorporated into the final plan: the New York Heat Act.

If it gets included, the bill passes automatically and then waits for the governor’s signature to officially become law. The Senate passed the bill last week, so if it fails to make the budget it could still become law as long as the Assembly gives it their own vote of approval before the session ends in June.

But environmental groups want it to go through as quickly as possible, and here’s why: it would stop utility companies from building out more polluting gas infrastructure under the premise that they are legally obligated to serve gas in New York. The state’s public service law currently requires gas utilities to provide service to all customers who request it.

“The utilities are absolutely using the obligation to serve as an excuse to continue to expand the gas system and to continue to invest in gas instead of more cost effective [green] alternatives,” said Jessica Azulay, program director of the environmental justice coalition Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE).

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