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Niagara County legislators Irene Myers and Shawn Foti have sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul raising serious concerns about New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) scoping plan in light of the December blizzard.
The legislators wrote, “The aftermath of the December blizzard in Western New York has been a time for elected officials, government agencies and the overall public to have an honest discussion about what we learned, what we did well in storm response and what needs improvement. It also provides an opportunity to raise issues about certain long-term policy decisions and how they might impact residents in similar future storms. With that mind, we write today with very serious concerns regarding New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) Scoping Plan. The fact is, the Scoping Plan makes policy recommendations that seem to completely ignore the realities of a winter storm event like we just faced.”
The legislators raised issues with how the CLCPA impacts the electricity grid, storm response and residents during a winter storm event like the December blizzard.
Among the many points the legislators raised, they questioned:
“Considering the travel bans and overall terrible storm conditions, many people were unable to leave their homes for days. The CLCPA calls for adoption of all electric building codes which would transition homes from natural gas-based heating, hot water, and cooking to all-electric. In this storm, gas furnaces allowed people to continue to heat their homes even if the power was out. If we lost natural gas even as a backup when electricity goes out, would we not be faced with people freezing in their homes, pipes freezing leading to costly repairs, and many other issues?
“How would blizzard preparation, response and recovery look if CLCPA Scoping Plan ‘all electric’ was implemented? Does NY have the resources to build out the current electrical supply grid to meet the goals of the CLCPA, specifically as demand is expected to peak during winter months?
“Are we to expect that snow removal efforts with a fleet of non-diesel equipment would be as expeditious and efficient as the diesel heavy equipment we currently have? How about the manner in which snow removal is currently conducted to ensure major transportation arteries are clear for first responders and essential employees?
“How many more stranded drivers would we anticipate with all-electric vehicles and would they be at increased risk of freezing to death when their electric charge is exhausted? Considering hundreds of cars needed to be towed to makeshift lots, what would a plan be for charging these vehicles once they were claimed by owners?
The legislators concluded by writing, “we are not opposed to policy efforts that look to introduce more environmentally-friendly technology into our lives…..but it seems the CLCPA Scoping Plan is being fast-tracked beyond the capacity of the grid right now and glosses over the realities many residents in a climate like ours face, especially in a severe winter storm.”