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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Federal judge blocks AZ law that 'disenfranchised' Native voters; government shutdown could cost U.S. travel economy about $1 Billion per week; WA group brings 'Alternatives to Violence' to secondary students.

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Senator Robert Menendez offers explanations on the money found in his home, non-partisan groups urge Congress to avert a government shutdown and a Nevada organization works to build Latino political engagement.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

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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