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Capitol Watch

FILE- This Jan. 15, 2019 file photo shows the New York state Capitol in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Before state lawmakers consider a bill that aims to move New York to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2050, an upstate hearing is planned this week to hear from stakeholders on the proposal. 

State Sen. Rachel May announced that a regional hearing on the Climate and Community Protection Act will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry's Gateway Center, 1 Forestry Dr., Syracuse. 

Any stakeholders interested in testifying should email bumpus@nysenate.gov

May, D-Syracuse, pushed for the hearing after the initial called for three hearings, but none in upstate outside Albany. There were hearings held last week in New York City and on Long Island. 

"Central and western New York feel the impacts of climate change every day, and we as legislators should make every effort to include as many voices as possible when crafting this law," May said in a statement. "Changes from the (Climate and Community Protection Act) will be far-reaching and felt in all corners of our communities."

She added, "Our region of the state is home to some of the world's largest freshwater lakes and fertile farmlands, but is also home to very vulnerable communities that will be severely impacted by climate change. Upstate voices must be included at every step of the way as we work to adapt to climate disruption and ensure a resilient future for all New Yorkers." 

May is a cosponsor of the Climate and Community Protection Act. Not only would the bill require the state to shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, but it will promote job opportunities within the renewable energy sector. 

The bill has bicameral support in the state Legislature. The Assembly bill has received a vote in the past. However, the measure wasn't considered by the Republican-controlled state Senate. 

That is expected to change with Democrats holding a majority of seats in the state Senate. State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who chairs the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, is hopeful the bill will clear the state Senate this year. 

"With inaction in Washington, it is critical for us to take the bold steps necessary to protect our planet," Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat, said. "These hearings are a critical step to determining how New York can lead on the fight against climate change." 

Climate change is receiving more attention in state government this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has implemented policies requiring the state to become less reliant on fossil fuels, proposed his own version of the "Green New Deal" to promote clean energy jobs and move the state to 100 percent clean electricity by 2040. 

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