Draft criteria developed by the Climate Justice Working Group are released for a 120-day public comment period
March 9, 2022
New York State today announced the release of draft criteria developed by the Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG) to identify disadvantaged communities. The draft criteria will guide the equitable implementation of New York’s ambitious Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act). In line with the disadvantaged communities provisions of the Climate Act, the project includes an interactive map and list of communities that the criteria would cover to direct programs and projects to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse gases that alter the climate, provide opportunities for economic development and target clean energy. and investments in energy efficiency.
Basil Seggos, State Department Commissioner of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and co-chair of the Climate Action Council, said, “Advancing climate justice is at the heart of New York’s climate law and our efforts to transition all New Yorkers to a cleaner, greener future. I thank the Climate Justice Working Group for the collaboration and in-depth analysis that contributed to the draft list of disadvantaged communities and criteria released today for public comment. This marks an important milestone in New York’s efforts to advance climate justice, and I encourage all New Yorkers to review these draft documents and support this ongoing work.
Doreen M. Harris, co-chair of the Climate Action Council and president and CEO of NYSERDA, said, “Along with this draft Criteria for Disadvantaged Communities, I encourage the public to review the Climate Action Council’s draft scoping plan and participate in the public hearings to shape the final product as we work to the implementation of a bold climate program. These efforts clearly and consciously integrate climate justice at its core to bring opportunity and a better quality of life to disadvantaged areas of New York State.
The Climate Act requires the state to invest or direct resources to ensure that disadvantaged communities receive at least 35%, with a target of 40%, of overall benefits from spending on clean energy and efficiency programs energy – one of the many ways the Climate Act focuses on prioritizing climate justice.
The state’s CJWG, created by the Climate Act, voted unanimously to approve the release of the draft criteria for public comment. Comprised of 13 representatives from organizations working in communities on the front lines for environmental justice in New York State and supported by a team of state agencies and technical experts, the CJWG worked to identify communities disadvantaged by assessing 45 indicators, including: environmental exposures, burdens and risks related to climate change; socio-demographic factors such as age, race and income; pollution characteristics; and health vulnerabilities. Using a methodology that worked at the census tract level, the task force combined and ranked all the indicators into an overall score. DEC, NYSERDA, and the New York State Departments of Health and Labor supported the CJWG’s efforts.
In addition to the geographic component, the criteria projects include low-income households located anywhere in New York State for the purpose of investing or leading programs, projects, and investments in the area of clean energy and energy efficiency. These individual households report a total annual income at or below 60% of the state median income, or households otherwise eligible for low-income programs.
Criteria and methods for identifying disadvantaged communities will be reviewed annually to ensure that the state accurately targets emissions reductions and investments.
“The Climate Justice Working Group has spent nearly two years creating a definition and map of disadvantaged communities that captures the cumulative impact of communities’ experiences,” said Sonal Jessel, policy director at WE ACT for Environmental Justice and member of the CJWG. “We created and voted on a definition that centers race because we know from thousands of research studies that race is the number one indicator of environmental and climate impacts on health, and I’m excited to finally release the definition and map to the public so that we can further raise the voices of the community. Thanks to my fellow task force members and our partners at Illume Advising, as well as the DEC, to NYSERDA, the Department of Health, and other state agencies for getting us to this point.
Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) and member of the CJWG, said, “Identifying disadvantaged communities is the first step in advancing the climate justice agenda outlined in the CLCPA. Although we undertook an intensive process to develop these draft criteria, which included significant consideration and assessment of how communities are currently impacted by environmental burdens and health, income and other social disparities; it is important to note that this is a starting point, and we should expect these criteria to evolve over time as we collect more data and get a better idea of the extent to which frontline communities across the state are overstretched. I welcome feedback on these draft criteria from members of the public, including residents of frontline communities. I also want to express my gratitude to my fellow task force members for their dedication to the process and for helping us get to this point.
Rahwa Ghirmatzion, executive director of PUSH Buffalo and member of the CJWG, said“I am grateful to the leadership of DEC and NYSERDA for showing the courage to work with frontline leaders through a rigorous process with the Climate Justice Task Force to develop this draft criteria for identifying While the goal is to continue to iterate, evolve, and deepen how we characterize disadvantaged communities over time to achieve the goals set out by the architects of the CLCPA, this first draft is a great starting point. departure. “
The DEC is accepting public comments from March 9 to July 7, 2022 on the draft criteria and will hold at least six public hearings during the comment period. The draft criteria, community list, map, and supporting documentation are available on the New York State Climate Law website at https://climate.ny.gov /DAC-Criteria .
New Yorkers are encouraged to submit comments via the online public comment form, by email to [email protected] and via US Mail to Attention: Draft DAC Comments, NYS DEC, Attn. Office of Environmental Justice, 625 Broadway, 14th Floor, Albany NY 12233. Information on public hearings will be posted soon.
The Climate Act requires the Climate Action Council’s framework plan to prioritize and maximize the reduction of greenhouse gases and co-pollutants in disadvantaged communities. The Climate Action Council’s draft scoping plan was released for public comment on January 1, 2022. The draft plan offers several scenarios for the Climate Action Council to consider recommending policies and actions to help New York meet its ambitious climate guidelines. The draft blueprint is available for public review and comment, and the Climate Action Council will also hold a series of public hearings. For more information on the draft framework plan, or to submit comments or learn about upcoming public hearings, visit https://climate.ny.gov/ .
New York State’s premier climate program is the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues to drive a healthy economy. green as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined in law through the CLCPA, New York is on track to achieve its mandate of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation from by 2030, and to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to develop clean energy, including more than $33 billion in 102 large-scale renewable energy and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion in dollars to reduce emissions from buildings, $1.8 billion to expand solar power, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and more than $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments . Together, these investments support nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020, 2,100% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011, and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power from ‘by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that that at least 35%, with a target of 40%, of the benefits of clean energy investments be directed to disadvantaged communities, and advancing progress towards the State 2025 energy efficiency goal of reducing consumption onsite energy savings of 185 trillion BTUs in end-use energy savings.