Albany Update

Business Council of NYS Sounds Alarm On Impacts of State’s Energy Policies

ALBANY—The Business Council of New York State announced recently the first of several state-wide information campaigns designed to educate New York voters on the impacts of significant legislation approved by state lawmakers. The campaigns will highlight and assess policy decisions that, regardless of intention, could adversely impact New York State’s private sector businesses and the millions of New Yorkers they employ.

The first campaign will focus on the transition toward clean energy sources and renewables, the Business Council of New York State said. Business groups representing thousands of companies from Niagara to Montauk are joining in the efforts to urge Albany lawmakers to create and implement smarter and better business policies. Among the business organizations that have voiced concerns over the state’s energy policies are The Business Council of Westchester, The Rockland Business Association and the Partnership for New York City.

Some energy transition policy decisions will have unintended consequences as the state tries to cross the bridge to clean energy resources and renewable development. As the state moves to implement the “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” or CLCPA, policy decisions are being made that could have significant unintended consequences, Business Council officials stated, including:

Heather Mulligan, President & CEO, The Business Council of New York State
  • Higher energy prices whose impacts would ripple through the state’s economy;
  • Reduced reliability of the state’s energy grid that would affect homes, institutions and businesses;
  • Adverse impacts on the state’s overall economic climate that may discourage new investments and job growth.

“New York is at a crossroads,” said Heather Mulligan, president & CEO of the Business Council of New York State. “We are a worldwide leader in environmental initiatives and green energy policies, and we must and will continue to be the leader. But we must also look at the policies and determine what is feasible, what is affordable, and what is best for the future of the State. That is what this campaign is all about, and this will be a campaign with supporters from across the spectrum from almost every industry and from communities across the state. Let’s be clear: it is essential to push a green economy. It is also essential to make sure we can reach our environmental and clean energy goals without severely damaging New York’s families and businesses as well as jeopardizing the reliability of New York’s energy infrastructure.”

All Spent Nuclear Fuel at Indian Point Moved to Safer, Secure Dry Cask Storage

ALBANY—The New York State Department of Public Service and the Indian Point Closure Task Force announced on Oct. 16 that the owner and operator of the decommissioning Indian Point nuclear power plant in the Village of Buchanan has transferred all spent nuclear fuel to dry cask storage.

State officials noted that the announcement marks important progress for the community and the state since dry cask storage is a safer, more secure storage practice, making New York the first state to accomplish such a prompt shift and remedy.

All 3,998 spent fuel assemblies are now contained within 127 reinforced concrete and steel casks on the Indian Point site’s independent spent fuel storage installations.

“The successful transfer of spent fuel to dry cask storage is a tremendous accomplishment by the skilled men and women working to decommission Indian Point,” said Tom Congdon, chair of the Indian Point Closure Task Force. “Meanwhile, New York’s oversight over the decommissioning of Indian Point continues unabated. New York’s regulatory agencies, and the Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board, remain laser-focused on the safe, prompt, and thorough decommissioning of Indian Point.”

The heightened risks posed by Indian Point’s long-standing practice of storing spent nuclear fuel in densely packed spent fuel cooling pools have been of concern to New York State, contributing to the state’s opposition to the relicensing of Indian Point more than 15 years ago, the state’s successful effort to permanently close the facility in 2021, and the state’s insistence that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) oppose Holtec’s waivers for its Post-Defueled Emergency Plan (PDEP) until all spent nuclear fuel was out of densely packed spent fuel pools.

To mitigate the risks of fires in the spent fuel pools and release of radiation during a severe accident, and to avoid a decades-long process afforded by the federal government’s decommissioning regulations, New York State required all spent nuclear fuel at Indian Point to be safely transferred out of the spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage on an accelerated timeline. In fewer than 30 months since those requirements were imposed, all 3,998 spent fuel assemblies are now contained within 127 reinforced concrete and steel casks on the site’s independent spent fuel storage installations.

State Adopts First-in-the-Nation ‘Buy Clean Concrete’ Mandate

ALBANY—New York State announced on Sept. 19 the adoption of mandatory rules establishing emissions limits on concrete used in state-funded public building and transportation projects, reaffirming the state’s commitment to environmental sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in government operations.

The guidelines also support the “Leading by Example” Executive Order 22, under which state agencies are required to collect New York-specific data from common construction materials, including concrete, which will be used to set lower limits on greenhouse gas emissions from concrete, starting in 2027. 

“Adopting Buy Clean Concrete guidelines marks a monumental step in our journey towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly New York State,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “By setting mandatory emissions limits on concrete used in state-funded projects, we’re not just leading by example but creating a tangible roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the board.”  

Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the full lifecycle of concrete—from the extraction of raw materials and transportation to installation and disposal. Data on a construction material or product’s lifecycle-related environmental impact is available through a report called an Environmental Product Declaration and enables comparison of environmental impacts across concrete mixes. New York’s Buy Clean Concrete guidelines are the first to implement greenhouse gas emission limits covering all state agency projects.  

Starting Jan. 1, 2025, EPDs must be submitted for all concrete mixes used in qualifying state construction projects and must demonstrate that they achieve an environmental impact below the limits set by New York State. These EPDs will provide transparency and a more robust accounting of a concrete mix’s greenhouse gas emissions and enable state agencies and other stakeholders to make more informed choices in reducing emissions. The state is working towards providing concrete producers with the technical assistance they need to meet the EPD requirements.  

The Buy Clean Concrete guidelines apply to state agency contracts exceeding $1 million that involve the use of more than 50 cubic yards of concrete, or Department of Transportation contracts exceeding $3 million that include at least 200 cubic yards of concrete. The guidelines include exceptions for emergency projects and those requiring high-strength or quick-cure concrete and do not apply to state authorities. 

Following Gov. Hochul’s signing of State Finance Law §136-d, which called for these guidelines to be developed, the Office of General Services partnered with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and convened a stakeholder and expert group to gain valuable insight and assistance in the production of guidelines for the use and innovation of low embodied carbon concrete in New York State construction projects.

Environmental Facilities Corp. Approves $234M For Water Infrastructure Projects Across NY

ALBANY—The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation Board of Directors announced on Oct. 5 it had approved $234.5 million in financial assistance for water infrastructure improvement projects across New York State.

The board’s approval authorizes municipal access to more than $226.8 million in low-cost short-term financing and previously announced grants to get shovels in the ground for critical water and sewer infrastructure projects, including flood mitigation measures that protect critical clean water systems from high water events.

“By investing in our state’s water infrastructure, we are laying the foundation for regional growth and prosperity while protecting our natural resources,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “This financial assistance helps ensure that cost will not be a barrier as communities across the state continue to modernize treatment systems with vital infrastructure upgrades, helping usher in a healthier, more resilient future for New York.”

The board also took action to help ensure continued, long-term affordability of three existing projects, approving long-term financing totaling more than $7.7 million to municipalities to provide savings on debt service for these projects.

Of the projects approved for funding today, the Board approved $148 million for a clean water resiliency project that will support the city of Long Beach’s long-term recovery from devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This critical project will safeguard the city’s wastewater treatment systems with flood mitigation measures, convert the city’s water pollution control plant into a pump station and connect it with Nassau County’s South Shore Reclamation Facility. Together with the ongoing Bay Park Conveyance Project, the city’s undertaking will improve water quality of the Western Bays and Reynolds Channel. EFC is prefinancing the project to provide the city with the up-front capital needed to get the project constructed. These funds will be reimbursed by federal disaster grant programs.

The board’s approvals include financings through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and grants already announced pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvement and Intermunicipal Grant programs.

The Clean Water projects financed by the Board’s vote include $5.5 million in short-term interest-free financing for the Village of Rhinebeck in Dutchess County for the planning, design and construction of upgrades to the village’s wastewater treatment and collection system.

State Providing $165 Million in Funding For Sustainable Transportation Projects

ALBANY—New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Sept. 29 that $165 million in new funding is available to support community-based investments designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of local and regional transportation systems while promoting safety and mobility.

The funding is available for projects that create new and enhance existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities, improve access to public transportation, create safe routes to schools, convert abandoned railway corridors to pedestrian trails, and help reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. In addition, these funds may be used by municipalities to support activities that meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

These funds, made available to the state through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and administered by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), are provided through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), and the Carbon Reduction Program (CRP).

The following entities are eligible for funding: Local Governments (Counties, Towns, Cities, and Villages); Regional Transportation Authorities; Transit Agencies; Natural Resources or Public Land Agencies (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, local fish and game or wildlife agencies); Tribal Governments; Local or Regional Governmental Transportation or Recreational Trail Entities and New York State Department of Transportation (for CMAQ only).

In addition, the following organizations are eligible only in partnership with the entities listed above: Metropolitan Planning Organizations (serves an urbanized area with a population of 200,000 or fewer), School Districts and Non-Governmental Organizations.

Projects will be selected through a competitive solicitation process and rated based on established criteria that includes public benefit, air quality improvements, cost-effectiveness, and partnerships. Projects must be related to the surface transportation system and provide full access to the public. The TAP-CMAQ-CRP project awards will amount to no less than $500,000 and no more than $5 million for any single project. NYSDOT will provide up to 80% of the total eligible project costs with a minimum 20% match provided by the project sponsor. Eligible project costs may include planning, design/engineering services, right-of-way acquisition, construction and construction inspection.

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