Pace Environmental Law Students Update New York State’s Roadmap to Address Global Warming

Recommendations will be presented to Cuomo administration

WHITE PLAINS, NY, January 6, 2011 –As the Cuomo administration gets warmed up, five Pace environmental law students and their advisors hope to guide its approach to climate change by creating a scorecard on the recommendations of a January 2009 report by the New York State Bar Association Task Force on Global Warming.

The Pace Law students and staff members are taking stock of the state’s progress over the past two years on the report’s 22 recommendations, and what work lies ahead. The report, “Taking Action in New York on Climate Change,” was approved by the state bar association’s House of Delegates on April 4, 2009.

“Many of the recommendations have not been implemented, and the incoming Cuomo administration has an opportunity to take action to address climate change in New York,” said James Van Nostrand, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center and a member of the Task Force. Van Nostrand will work with the students on updating the report, along with Judith Weinstock, director of Environmental Law Programs at Pace Law School.

The students will present their findings January 28 at the NYSBA’s annual meeting in New York City, and based on the update, the Task Force on Global Warming will reconvene and decide how to proceed. The Task Force is expected to draft a letter to the Governor with recommended actions based on the updated report.

Steps and Stumbles

Van Nostrand said the state has made some progress. For example, it now requires utilities to include a greater percentage of energy from renewable sources in their portfolios. The State Energy Law has been amended to reinstate the State Energy Planning Board, which has the power to adopt a State Energy Plan that would forecast energy demand for ten years and specify the energy supply requirements for meeting that demand.

But the state has yet to tackle other challenges the report identified. It has not mandated electric sub-metering in all buildings, for instance, which would incentivize individual tenants in a multi-unit building to conserve energy.

According to Christopher Riti, graduate research fellow at the Pace Law School Center for Environmental Legal Studies, “The update will provide a clearer picture of New York State’s progress on the climate action front. In the end, we hope to speed up the pace of implementation while identifying opportunities to achieve meaningful advances in sustainable public policy.”

Van Nostrand added, Preparing the briefing materials for Governor Cuomo is an excellent opportunity for our students to participate in shaping public policy in New York on one of the most pressing issues of our time.”

Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The school is recognized for excellence in areas including international, criminal, and public interest law, and clinical education. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County.

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