NYC lawmakers urge rollback of climate change law, citing costs to constituents.

September 29, 2023

Originally published in the New York Post. Written by

New York City lawmakers are pushing legislation that would roll back strict requirements under a new climate change law for buildings covering 800,000 co-op and condo apartments, citing costs that could have their homeowning tenants seeing red.

Local Law 97 — the Climate Mobilization Emissions Law of 2019 — sets limits on the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings starting next year to help New York City reach the goal of a 40 percent reduction by the year 2030 and 80 percent reduction in citywide emissions by calendar year 2050.

It requires buildings with more than 25,000 square feet to replace their old heating oil and natural gas boilers and switch to electric heat so as to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The city law covers existing buildings, which account for two-thirds or most of the carbon emissions in the city.

The proposed easing of the supposedly Green regulations comes just days after New York’s major business groups launched a $1 million campaign to push Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers to ease state anti-pollution laws tackling climate change — also arguing the regs are too costly to them and consumers.

An aerial view of the Midtown Manhattan skyline or Midtown West Side skyline as seen in New York, NY on July 14, 2022New York City lawmakers are pushing legislation that would roll back strict requirements under a new climate change law for buildings covering 800,000 co-op and condo apartments. Christopher Sadowski

Queens Democratic Council Members Linda Lee and Sandra Ung said their bill makes necessary revisions to make it easier for building owners to comply with the law without punishing apartment owners with harsh penalties.

“Local Law 97’s current structure unintentionally jeopardizes the housing stability of many working and middle-class condo and co-op owners,” Councilwoman Lee said.

“Our forthcoming bill will provide the necessary adjustments, acknowledging the past efforts of many co-ops and condos to reduce emissions and their use of open spaces to mitigate environmental impacts.”

Ung said, “This bill signifies the start of a more inclusive process that recognizes the personal stakes many homeowners have in this legislation. The sustainability of our city and the financial security of our residents are not mutually exclusive.”

A flame burns on a gas stove on April 28, 2023 in New York CityLocal Law 97 will set limits on greenhouse gas emissions of buildings starting next year to help New York City reach the goal of a 40 percent reduction by the year 2030 and 80 percent reduction in citywide emissions by calendar year 2050. Getty Images

The bill, if approved would:

— Take into consideration open and green spaces as part of a building’s gross floor area when calculating greenhouse gas emissions limits, making it easier to comply with the law.

— Eases annual greenhouse gas emissions limits if buildings have made prior retrofits to reduce emissions, such as oil to gas conversions or the installation of solar panels.

— Rolls back penalties for buildings with an Average Assessed Value of $65,000 or less.

— Mandat courts to regard the median property value of units in a building as a factor when imposing penalties.

The group representing co-op and condos raised a warning flag about potential steep green costs in the spring, launching  a TV, digital and mailing campaign in 18 targeted Assembly districts across the city.

“We are not looking to dismiss Local Law 97 but to refine it. Many homeowners are under pressure to meet the city’s sustainability mandates. This new legislation seeks a middle ground that upholds both environmental goals and homeowners’ economic well-being.” said Geoffrey Mazel, counsel for the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council.

Mayor Eric Adams’ office had no immediate comment on the bill.

But two weeks ago, hizzoner said he strongly backed the green emissions reduction law, launching “Getting 97 Done” plan to help carbon polluters to comply with the law.

“Every part of the ‘Getting 97 Done’ plan builds towards one core goal: reversing the effects of climate changes. The data shows that our administration’s efforts are already working, and we’re going to continue moving forward. Building owners are learning every day that complying with Local Law 97 and going green will save green, and we are addressing climate change from all angles in New York City,” Adams said.

City Hall’s plan includes obtaining city, state, federal, and utility-based funding to help pay for upgrades and meeting compliance.