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NY bill seeks to protect wood burning under updated climate law

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In a move to address concerns from rural residents, New York lawmakers introduced a bill exempting wood used for heating and cooking from the state’s stringent 2019 climate act restrictions. The proposed Rural Energy Freedom Act, spearheaded by Republican Assemblyman Robert Smullen and co-sponsored by Democrat Marianne Buttenschon, aims to safeguard traditional fuel methods against the ambitious targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions set by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

The CLCPA sets forth goals to lower emissions to 40% of 1990 levels by 2030 and by 85% by 2050. Critics of the act, however, argue it overlooks the reliance of many on wood burning for warmth in rural areas. This new legislation intends to ensure that New Yorkers, especially those in rural settings, can continue using wood as a sustainable and carbon-neutral fuel source, recognized by both the EPA and the federal government.

The Rural Energy Freedom Act is currently under review by the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation. If passed, it would mark a significant adjustment to the CLCPA, balancing the state’s environmental ambitions with the practical needs of its residents. The bill highlights the ongoing debate over energy sources and environmental policy, reflecting a nuanced approach to climate action and rural energy independence.