New York, NY – Today, the Adams Administration proposed a critical set of rules to govern NYC Local Law 97’s implementation and enforcement. Despite activists’ recurring demands to fully implement and enforce the law, the Adams administration’s proposed rules would delay the law, and enable a corporate “buy out” loophole.
The proposal begins a formal 30-day comment period, with an online public hearing scheduled for October 24, 2023. The final rule will be adopted later this year, going into effect January 1, 2024 with the force of law.
Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, NYPIRG and TREEage issued the following statement:
“It’s been a summer of unrelenting heat waves, flooding and other dangerous climate events, yet Mayor Adams wants to give a huge gift to New York’s top corporate polluters — the real estate lobby, who are his largest campaign donors. If his proposed rules are adopted, New Yorkers could lose tens of thousands of jobs, air pollution could increase by millions of tons per year, and energy bills could get even higher because landlords will be allowed to avoid upgrading their dirty, polluting buildings to high energy efficiency.
“Mayor Adams is all too willing to let his billionaire campaign donors delay penalties and use loopholes to evade New York City’s landmark climate jobs law, Local Law 97. Our communities need pollution reductions, good jobs and lower energy bills.
“We call on Mayor Adams to withdraw his proposal to gut Local Law 97 and substitute rules to fully implement and enforce the law for working New Yorkers, who need good jobs, less pollution and lower energy bills.”
The groups are particularly concerned that the proposed rules will allow the city’s most-polluting buildings, those exceeding the 2024-2029 limits, to avoid efficiency upgrades that cut pollution, create jobs, and lower utility bills. Unless amended in final form, the proposed rules create two key issues:
- Two year delay: Landlords could opt to delay their 2024 and 2025 pollution limits to 2026 by entering into an agreement to follow the law two years later.
- Corporate “buy out” loophole: The Mayor is breaking his Administration’s promise to tighten the use of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which therefore become a buy out mechanism in place of upgrading buildings to high energy efficiency. The Administration is not setting any REC limit for buildings whose owner opts not to enter into its proposed two year delay program. As a result, any of those buildings could simply “buy out” of the law’s pollution reduction requirements by purchasing RECs. Under this proposed rule, approximately 50% of the pollution a building owner would have to reduce could be offset by purchase of RECs.
These rules affect the initial limits from 2024-2029. Some aspects appear properly put into place in this long, technical rule-making that the administration briefed its allies on yesterday, but overall these rules, if adopted, would severely weaken the law. If adopted and unchanged, these rules accomplish REBNY and its billionaire owners’ objectives, which they’ve been lobbying the Mayor to adopt, to severely weaken the law through 2030.