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Another Voice: Climate protection act could lead to emissions increase

By Darren Suarez

About 110 miles west of Albany, in Rome, a family business of 218 years is facing its newest uncertainty in the state thanks to proposed legislation at the Capitol. The Climate Community Protection Act was advanced to address global warming and create jobs, but instead the bill puts the future of Revere Copper and its roughly 100 employees at risk while leading to increased global emissions.

The Business Council of New York State and many manufacturers in New York do not oppose effective and practical climate change legislation. But for Revere Copper, and other manufacturers across New York State and their more than 40,000 employees, the CCPA will ineffectively address climate change while imposing unattainable conditions for manufacturers.

The CCPA requires zero emissions, from all sources in the state, by 2050. Numerous scientists, climate activists, and environmental organizations believe achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions in New York by 2050 seems to be physically impossible.

The problem with the unrealistic gross zero emission mandate is that companies will need to plan now for the law to go into effect. This leaves economic uncertainty for the thousands of Energy Intensive Trade Exposed (EITE) businesses throughout the state, and the tens of thousands of employees who produce copper, cement, steel, pulp, paper and aluminum. For these New York manufacturers, new drastic and unpractical carbon policies, that their global competitors are not subject to, put them at a significant economic disadvantage.

If businesses are no longer competitive in this state, investments and jobs will flow from New York to other jurisdictions with weaker standards, ultimately defeating the purpose of the bill by resulting in higher global greenhouse gas emissions spread elsewhere.

Just by reviewing emissions associated with electricity consumption, it is fairly easy to see that in upstate New York there are four times less GHG emissions per kilowatt hour than the rest of the U.S., and eight times less emissions than in China or India. If an average manufacturing plant operated in India instead of New York, the same facility would produce an additional 14,688 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, equal to adding more than 3,000 cars.

The legislation should be reconsidered, until it provides manufacturers with a reasonable bridge toward a low-carbon economy.

This transition will allow the more than 1,000 different energy-intensive trade exposed industries, that directly employ over 40,000 people with an average salary of $70,000 per year, to stay competitive until a global level playing field is established that enables fair competition.

Darren Suarez is senior director of government affairs for the Business Council of New York State.

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