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Republican NYS lawmakers raise concerns over Hochul's climate act proposal

The issue of climate change proposals in New York, with a push to get away from fossil fuel-burning appliances, is now generating political heat.

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. — New York State has set some lofty climate change emissions reduction goals for the coming years but not everyone is happy about some of the suggested changes that may be made.

That includes the way many people heat their homes and even cook.

This issue of climate change proposals here in New York State, with the push to get away from fossil fuel-burning appliances, is now generating political heat, especially among Republican lawmakers who spoke out North Tonawanda on Friday.

This is based on the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which the Democratic majority legislature approved back then. That started the state on these proposals to reduce fossil fuel emissions with planning by a Climate Action Council.

Now that Council has come up with various plans, including future-year deadlines like 2030, when no new gas appliances like stoves, clothes dryers, and hot water heaters could be installed. Only electric appliances, including new furnaces, could be installed with stated goals of reduced or eventually zero emissions. 

The Climate Action Council final scoping report mentions conversion to an electric heat pump with the idea of rebates or tax credits, which Gov. Kathy Hochul apparently supports. 

State Senate Minority Leader and Republican Robert Ortt of North Tonawanda said, "She (Governor Hochul) did mention in her speech something about tax credits or rebates, but nothing specific as to how much they would be, and that matters."

On Friday, Ortt, State Senator George Borrello, and Assemblyman Michael Norris made their case against these proposals, saying they made no sense and would be costly to homeowners and building owners.

So they had this message to constituents and voters.

"Contact your lawmakers and the governor's office now because all of us would have to vote on these policies. She can't do this by herself."

2 On Your Side reached out to six Democratic lawmakers from the Buffalo area for their position on the Climate Act proposals. Only three responded and none were available for interviews.

Those who did said generally there needed to be more study on the proposals.

A spokesperson for one, Democratic Assemblymember William Conrad of Tonawanda, says he is not in support of totally electric buildings, which have been suggested for homes, apartments, and other buildings in New York State. 

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