An Examination of Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission: The Progress So Far

By Kelly Hendricken, Albany Government Law Review

Introduction  

            Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a Moreland Act Commission to investigate the response of New York’s power utility companies to Superstorm Sandy.[1]  This now established Moreland Commission on Utility and Storm Preparation came after a firestorm of complaints in the wake of the weeks it took for many residents in the Long Island and New York City areas to regain power after the tragedy and devastation of Superstorm Sandy.[2]  The Commission has already made some recommendations, which are sure to create much change after this particular public outcry for better regulation and more sanctions for the power companies in charge of restoring power after the widespread damage caused by Superstorm Sandy that left hundreds of thousands of people in New York without power.[3]  It is important to understand both the authority the Commission has and the power of its recommendations because of the widespread change this will impose on New Yorkers in the future.  The legislative recommendations that are about to be made will change the utilities regulation in New York State, hopefully for the better.

Continue reading “An Examination of Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission: The Progress So Far”

Marcellus Shale and Municipal Empowerment in New York

By Zachary Kansler, Albany Government Law Review

Introduction

Natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale geologic formations have been a polarizing issue in New York State, spanning areas of concern including public health, environmental welfare, and municipal authority, among others.  For some, Marcellus Shale is a symbol for a movement or point of view, and for others, the extraction of natural gas deposits in Marcellus Shale formations has had a more profound effect, including families alleging that their water supply has been tainted by drilling and extraction processes known as hydrofracking.[1]  Many believe the adverse effects of hydrofracking can be addressed, and hopefully mitigated through various means, including state regulation.[2]  In addition, it is also possible that local governments may have the authority to address natural gas extraction as well. However, until recently, it was not known whether such authority existed.    Continue reading “Marcellus Shale and Municipal Empowerment in New York”

Removing Administrative and Zoning Barriers to Wind Farm Construction: Re-powering New York State

Shane Egan, Albany Government Law Review Member

          Energy independence is one of America’s most important, if not most illusive, goals.  Today, the United States imports large amounts of energy from hostile governments around the world.[1]  Here in New York, we rely on out-of-state energy for a significant percentage of our energy consumption.[2]  This and other factors contribute to high energy costs inside New York.[3]   With that in mind, New York should implement policies that stimulate the intrastate production of energy.   Enhancing the use of renewable energy in New York will help lower energy costs, create jobs, and lessen our reliance on imported energy.

            Wind power can and should play an important role in meeting New York’s energy needs.  This not a new idea.  New York already has a number of renewable energy goals, including the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which calls for thirty percent of the state’s energy to be derived from renewable sources by 2015.[4]  These renewable sources include wind power, and several large projects are already underway.[5]

          However, despite New York and Federal efforts aimed at stimulating the construction of wind turbines in the form of grants[6] and tax credits,[7] there are still many obstacles standing in the way of creating sustainable wind energy.  Two such obstacles are zoning regulations and permit requirements.[8]  In order to stimulate the construction of wind farms, New York should enact legislation to break down zoning barriers and streamline the number of permits required to construct wind turbines. 

Continue reading “Removing Administrative and Zoning Barriers to Wind Farm Construction: Re-powering New York State”

Parked Your Car? Pay a Tax!: Parking Commodification and its Possibilities for Green Infrastructure

Eric Schillinger, Staff Writer

New York State is riding the coattails of New York City when it comes to green transportation.  New York State consistently ranks among the best states when calculating how successful its population is at efficiently transporting itself.1 It’s true, on average New Yorkers are among the most energy efficient people in the United States.2 But these numbers don’t tell the whole truth.  New York City is the most efficient large city in the country.3 As it is more than twice the size of the next largest city, Los Angeles, it greatly skews the numbers as they apply to the entire state.4 The city’s enormous population and its leading efficiency statistics skew the numbers in favor of New York as a whole.5 Nearly half of all New York residents live within the five boroughs,6 and these individuals are, thankfully, some of the most efficient in the entire country.  This helps push New York up the green ranks.

Upstate New York, on the other hand, is frighteningly un-green.  In fact, if New York City’s very green residents were removed from the equation, the remaining 12 million people in New York State rank near the least efficient in the nation.7 Upstate New Yorkers live more like notoriously inefficient Texans then they do their counterparts in Metro-New York.8

We can do better.  Rather than riding the coattails of New York City’s efficient residents, transportation policy upstate must be reworked, to spur all New Yorkers to transport themselves efficiently, use energy sparingly, and recognize the importance of taking responsibility for how they consume energy. Continue reading “Parked Your Car? Pay a Tax!: Parking Commodification and its Possibilities for Green Infrastructure”