McDonald, Fahy join activists calling for less vehicle emissions by 2035

Legislative Gazette photo by Aidan O’Shea
During an event outside the state Capitol in Albany on Thursday, December 12, Assemblyman John McDonald discusses the need to reduce emissions from on-the-road vehicles, and is calling on the governor to make that a legislative priority next session. He was joined by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy and activists from the Sierra Club and other organizations.

Assemblywoman Patrica Fahy and Assemblyman John McDonald joined environmental and transportation activists at the Capitol on Thursday to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to adopt a statewide target of reducing passenger vehicle emissions 55 percent by 2035.

“The biggest barrier to climate change is on-road vehicles,” said Allison Considine, campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “Business as usual is not leading us off fossil fuels.”

The press conference was called to deliver a petition addressing what advocates say is a major shortcoming of a major piece of legislation passed at the end of the last session, The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Among other things, the bill primarily sets a statewide goal of reducing 1990-level carbon emissions 85 percent by 2050. However, activists claim that bill doesn’t place specific enough goals for the transportation sector, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Advocates argue that the admirable goals set forth in the bill won’t be achievable without this hard target for on-road emissions.

In order to put pressure on the governor, more than 7,000 New Yorkers have signed the petition calling on his support for the “55 by 35” goal.

This press conference is the end point of a week-long, low-carbon effort using electric vehicles and mass transit to get petition signatures from across New York — including Buffalo, Long Island, Rochester, New York City, the Hudson Valley and Plattsburgh — to deliver the petition to Governor Cuomo.

“A large majority of emissions come from the vehicles we use in our daily lives,” said McDonald, D-Cohoes. “We know we need to move to the next generation of vehicles, and we know we need to do it together.”

McDonald and Fahy, D-Albany, acknowledge the shortcomings of the landmark bill signed in July, and came to show their support for the petition, organized in part by the Sierra Club. Fahy and McDonald both reaffirmed their commitments to combating the climate crisis.

Fahy specifically mentioned a bill she is sponsoring (A.6434-a), along with Sen. Jen Metzger, that would exempt the first $35,000 or less of the purchase price for an electric vehicle from state sales taxes.

“It’s not too late, there’s more we can do, but we need that commitment, and we need that plan,” Fahy said. “This is an enormous investment, not just in a cleaner environment, but in a healthier one as well.”