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Saturday, June 22, 2024

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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

NY Senate Passes HEAT Act, Assembly Poised to Take Up Bill

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Thursday, June 8, 2023   

The New York State Senate has passed the HEAT Act, which now goes to the Assembly.

The legislation aims to phase out gas-line extension allowances, which would reduce the use of natural gas in the state. It would also allow the Public Service Commission the authority to keep utility companies in line with the state's climate laws.

Robin Wilt, a town council member in Brighton, said the equity component in the bill is needed. It would protect low- to moderate-income customers from bearing energy burdens greater than a certain percentage of their income.

She thinks it would also help communities disproportionately affected by climate change.

"I think it's important, as we move forward, that we always keep that equity piece in mind, and that we're reparative," Wilt asserted. "Those communities that bear the brunt of our past climate policy should be the first beneficiaries of any future policy."

A 2021 state report noted there are barriers to helping certain disadvantaged communities, including places lacking access to "climate smart" programs, like distributed energy efficiency and low-emission transportation. The HEAT Act is under review by the Assembly's Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee.

The biggest challenge to passing this bill is time, since the New York Legislature adjourns at the end of the week.

John Polimeni, a city council member in Schenectady, predicts another challenge lies ahead to implement some of the provisions.

"I think there's a concern by some that the infrastructure's not there yet in New York State for a completely electric grid," Polimeni acknowledged. "I think there's some merit to that, but I think also that it's the old saying, 'If you don't just go in, it'll never happen.'"

He added opposition from fossil-fuel companies has also been a challenge.

Federal initiatives are already underway to reduce methane waste. A Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan aims to accelerate the process through solutions like plugging leaks from abandoned gas wells.


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