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New Yorkers may have to pay more for gas to get cleaner air

Apr 14, 2021 1:00 pm

Rick Karlin is reporting for the Times Union New York drivers could soon be paying an extra 55 cents per gallon of gas for cleaner air if a bill in the state Senate is passed. “The idea of an industry-wide carbon fee is still an open issue,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president at the state Business Council, who said the gas hike would generate an estimated $2.3 billion in revenue but would come at a cost for consumers and industry. Lawmakers argue a 55-cent-per-gallon gasoline price hike would be a hard sell for constituents. “What do we say to those people who are just trying to get by?” asked Long Island Democrat Todd Kaminsky, who chairs the Senate environmental committee. “That would seem to be a very scary number,” he added. Others, including a number of climate activists, said they believe the increase could be offset by energy efficiency in other areas and that the urgency of climate change justifies the increase. Annel Hernandez, of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said higher gas prices could spur more electric vehicle sales and mass transit which would reduce greenhouse gases. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, passed in 2019, calls for cutting carbon, or greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. It also calls for the state to have 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and zero-emission electricity by 2040. The law does not explain how to pay for those goals, however, most agree it will require large upfront investments to shift from fossil fuels to renewables. Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Kevin S. Parker, chair of the energy and telecommunications committee, has proposed a carbon tax on manufacturers as well as providers of fossil fuels such as motor oil. John Bartow, executive director of Empire State Forest Products Association, said the legislation would cost his industry, which includes paper mills, an additional $1 billion. Read the full story in the Times Union.