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Billions proposed in bond proposals and other state initiatives to address climate change

January 16, 2020
By: Ellen Marrison

Voters on both coasts may be asked to approve funding this year to help combat the challenges of climate change. Governors in both New York and California are proposing measures to tackle environmental issues, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launching a “Restore Mother Nature Act,” which his office is calling the nation’s most aggressive program for habitat restoration and flood reduction, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a climate budget that would invest $12.5 billion over the next five years.

In New York, Cuomo’s $3 billion ‘Restore Mother Nature’ Bond Act would require approval by the voters in November. The program would reduce flood risk and revitalize critical fish and wildlife habitats by among other ways, reclaiming natural floodplains, preserving open space, conserving more forest areas and expanding renewable energy.

He is also proposing a four-part electric vehicle initiative, a plan to reduce emissions from residences and commercial buildings, and a workforce development initiative. His plan also includes a new refundable, discretionary Green Jobs Tax Credit, totaling up to 7.5 percent of wages for each net new job created along with a Green Investment Tax Credit totaling up to 5 percent of qualifying new capital investments in connection with qualifying green economy projects, and increasing to up to 8 percent of eligible investment for research and development in qualifying green economy projects.

Cuomo seeks to strengthen New York’s position as a hub of the U.S. offshore wind industry and expand renewable energy power in New York to meet zero-carbon emissions by 2040. Cuomo’s proposal to increase solar, onshore wind and storage capacity by more than 1,000 megawatts would make 21 competitive awards through NYSERDA for large-scale solar, wind, and energy storage projects throughout upstate New York. Those efforts are expected to spur over $2.5 billion in private sector investments toward the development, construction and operation of clean energy projects.

His full list of proposals in book form is available here.

In California, Newsom cited “deep, structural challenges that threaten our state’s future and demand our urgent attention” in his budget summary, noting in particular the catastrophic wildfires California has experienced. Newsom’s climate budget contains three key areas: a proposed $4.75 billion climate resilience bond; cap-and-trade expenditures to continue the transition to a carbon-neutral economy; and, a new Climate Catalyst Fund to promote the deployment of new technologies, especially by small businesses and emerging industries.

The bond would appear on the November 2020 ballot to support investments over the next five years to reduce specific climate risks. Approximately 80 percent of the funds would be allocated to address immediate risks including floods, drought and wildfires, while the remaining funds would lay the groundwork for addressing long-term climate risks such as sea level rise and extreme heat.

The fund would be administered by the Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, and would finance investments in low-carbon transportation, sustainable agriculture and water diversion through low interest loans. Newsom’s budget proposes to capitalize the fund with $1 billion from the general fund revenues over the next four years. The fund would have a revolving loan structure that would leverage private capital and support projects into the future.

California, New Yorkclean energy, climate change, proposals