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State Senate digs into how to implement climate action plan

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The New York State Senate held a public hearing Thursday about plans that are being used to meet the state's ambitious plan to address climate change.

Cornell professor Robert Howarth said he's worked on the consequences of climate change and alternative energy policies for four decades. He testified that he thinks the plan is great, overall, but there are things he'd like the state to move more quickly on.

"In the interest of safety and the economic viability of the average person in the state, we need to have an organized downsizing of the gas pipeline system and we need to start planning for that urgently," Howarth said.

He said there are still utilities that offer rebates and incentives for the use of fossil natural gas in homes, and that's antithetical to the Climate Act.

Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York, is a member of the Climate Action Council and voted against the plan. He said it doesn’t do a good enough job addressing how the state will make the transition.

"I represent fossil fuels. I'm proud of it because we keep the lights on. We've lowered emissions by 55% and 20 years on carbon alone. But we need a real transition, we can't do what we're talking about, which is bands and moratoriums, and not looking at other options that are on the table," Donahue said.

There are estimates that New York will pay $10 billion per year to deal with the effects of climate change by the year 2050.