As state budget negotiations drag on, lawmakers and environmental groups are fighting to push through a bill that would require new buildings to go electric within two years.
Advocates have blamed Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for “balking” at including the measure in the state budget. Gov. Kathy Hochul had proposed requiring new buildings to produce zero on-site carbon emissions by 2027. The Senate was more aggressive in its budget resolution, calling for a ban of natural gas and other fossil fuels in new construction starting in 2024 — echoing the “All-Electric Building Act” put forth by Sen. Brian Kavanagh late last year.
“The clear hold up right now is the Assembly’s unwillingness to engage on this issue,” said Peter Sikora, who heads climate and inequality campaigns for the advocacy group New York Communities for Change.
The Assembly largely left policy issues out of its budget resolution. Heastie has opposed the inclusion of policy proposals in the state budget, and this week blamed policy discussions for delaying its passage beyond April 1.
“The Assembly did not include policy in its budget proposal,” a spokesperson for Heastie said in an email. “Anything we do is a conference decision driven by the collective will of the members of the Assembly Majority.”
Assembly members Emily Gallagher and Chris Burdick spoke at the press conference. Kavanagh has also pushed for the All-Electric Building Act’s inclusion in the budget.
“We are in the last days of the budget, and I’m really hopeful that they will see the light,” Gallagher said.
If passed, New York would be the first state in the country to ban the use of natural gas in new construction. In December, the New York City Council passed a bill requiring new buildings shorter than seven stories to go electric starting Jan. 1, 2024, and taller ones after July 1, 2027.
An earlier version of the bill would have banned fossil fuels in all new construction within two years of its passage. Real estate groups pushed for a more gradual rollout of the requirements to mitigate the costs of building upgrades and account for a lack of immediately available sources of renewable energy, as most of the city’s electricity is still sourced from fossil fuels.
Some insiders, including Sen. Michael Gianaris, indicated Tuesday that budget bills could print as soon as Tuesday night. If that is the case — barring a last-minute deal — the gas ban issue will likely be addressed later in the legislative session.