Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2025 state budget proposal continues investments made in recent years when it comes to fighting the climate crisis, but activists are responding by pushing for an additional $1 billion investment in the state’s newly created Climate Action Fund.
“Undoubtedly, the climate crisis that we are facing is the crisis of our generation – and generations to come,” said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas.
Expressing concern for the future, climate advocates and some lawmakers applauded parts of Hochul’s state budget proposal, most notably, ending the 100-foot rule and other elements of what has become known as the HEAT Act. In the governor’s budget proposal, they are under what is called the Affordable Gas Transition Act.
The 100-foot rule requires utilities to supply gas to any customer who wants it, while demanding ratepayers foot the bill if those customers live within 100 feet of an existing line.
“Thank you governor for including in the 100-foot rule, this is a major breakthrough,” said Assembly Member Patricia Fahy. “We have not seen this in two budget years.”
The governor’s budget also includes initiatives to facilitate a transition to clean energy, save homeowners money on utility bills, as well as sustaining ongoing initiatives like the Environmental Protection Fund, ensuring clean water and $100 million earmarked for the State Superfund program.
Hochul is also proposing $47 million to plant over 25 million trees across New York by 2033.
“We need to do it to meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, all while growing our economy and protecting consumers,” the governor said during her budget address.
Some lawmakers, like Assembly Member Anna Kelles, say the governor didn’t go far enough.
“If we are going to solve the climate change crisis, we have to lean in, we cannot take baby steps,” she said. “We can’t be wishy washy in our investment in climate change because it is destabilizing everything.”
Advocacy group NY Renews is pushing the Legislature to pass what is known as the People’s Climate Budget, a $1 billion spending plan that outlines climate and environmental justice programs the coalition feels that New York must fund, from fully executing the HEAT Act to investing in shovel ready infrastructure projects.
“It’s here, it’s happening, the longer we wait the more expensive it gets," said Katherine Nadeau, deputy director of Catskill Mountainkeepers. “We need the legislature come in and put aside $1 billion dollars for climate solutions this year.”
Ken Girardin, research director at right-leaning Empire Center, praised the governor for what he described as more restrained initiatives than in recent years.
“For the governor to go out and say to the public we’re outside of national norms here, was really refreshing,” he said.
“If they were being honest, they would be saying, 'let’s get to lower emissions any way possible,'” he said. “They wouldn’t care if construction unions were hired to do the job, and they wouldn’t care how those emissions were accomplished.”
NY Renews says that the labor focus in the climate budget is an effort to strengthen working families and ensure safe and effective implementation of projects.