Adirondack Council asks Stefanik to reconsider vote
Council says bill includes ‘historic’ environmental provisions
The Adirondack Council, an Elizabethtown-based environmental advocacy organization, is asking North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik to reverse her plans to cast a “nay” vote on the Inflation Reduction Act today, as they say the legislative package carries Congress’ largest-ever effort to address climate change.
“I urge Stefanik to reconsider,” Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway told the Enterprise. “She knows climate change is a real threat to her district. … I’ve talked to her. She knows climate change is real. Her constituents have seen it first-hand.”
But Stefanik opposes the environmental provisions in this bill, too. She has labeled these actions on climate change as “Far-Left Green New Deal initiatives” which will “WORSEN Biden’s energy crisis.”
Stefanik did not respond to numerous questions about her vote and thoughts on the bill’s environmental provisions, which the Enterprise posed to her in an email.
Green groups like the Adirondack Council are celebrating this bill, saying it will move the country away from relying on energy produced by burning fossil fuels, which emit climate change-causing greenhouse gases and pollute the world — including the Adirondacks — with acid rain and smog.
“It is the biggest thing, if it’s approved, that Congress has ever done to fight climate change, and that is critical for the Adirondacks … for Stefanik’s constituents and for future generations,” Janeway said. “The bottom line is Stefanik has a historic opportunity to lead in a bold way for her region and for the country in both the environment and economics.”
Stefanik’s Senior Advisor and campaign Executive Director Alex deGrasse on Wednesday tweeted about an article on how the Inflation Reduction Act will impact the Adirondacks from the Albany television station News10 ABC, calling it “INSANE” and claiming it quoted “far-left activists who lied and pumped this bill.” Janeway was one of the people quoted in that article.
“It’s disappointing that Mrs. Stefanik has indicated she will vote against the bill,” Adirondack Council Communications Associate Justin Levine said. “The bill would do great things for the country and, in particular, the Adirondack Park. It would provide economic stimulation for rural communities and green-collar jobs.”
Adirondack Council leaders also say the Inflation Reduction Act will make the country more energy independent by “increasing employment and boosting domestic manufacturing.”
Stefanik has voiced strong support for the U.S. being energy independent — producing energy within the country. Earlier this month, she supported a bill package which would expand oil and gas production, protect drilling permits from some litigation, resume oil and gas lease sales on federal lands and resume construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which President Joe Biden blocked last year.
But the Inflation Reduction Act’s path to energy independence circumvents oil and gas production because of their harmful impact on the environment and focuses on ramping up green energy, according to the Adirondack Council.
“There are a lot of environmental reasons to move away from fossil fuels, but there are a lot of economic and geopolitical reasons as well,” Levine said. “The future of energy independence for the United States will revolve around renewable energies. It’s only a matter of time before that happens.”
“The idea to take back some of the manufacturing capacity U.S. companies have shifted to China in recent decades,” Adirondack Council Communications Director John Sheehan wrote in a statement.
Stefanik did not respond to Enterprise questions asking why she plans to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act if she supports energy independence. She did not say whether she believes the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions were effective or if she opposes Democrats’ focus on green energy.
Levine said the Council is optimistic that the bill will still pass in the House and be signed by Biden.
Stefanik faces two Democrats who have entered the running for her seat — Matt Castelli and Matt Putorti. These two will face off in an Aug. 23 primary election to see who will clinch the party line to run against Stefanik in the Nov. 8 general election.
Castelli said he liked the clean energy investments, which he believes will combat climate change and grow the economy.
“The substantial investments in clean energy and climate mitigation will lower home heating costs, protect our natural resources, and boost our tourism economy while rehabbing vacant factories and creating good-paying jobs,” Putorti wrote.
IRA’s environmental action
Janeway said though the final version of this act Congress is voting is not as strong as they would have liked it to be, it still contains wins for the Adirondacks and creates a “strong foundation” to build on.
“This is a milestone in the protection of the waters, forests and communities of the Adirondack Park,” Janeway said in a statement. “The bill isn’t perfect, but it is far better than anything Congress has done to date to combat climate change and build a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. … This is just step one in a long journey.”
He said the bill would restore federal monitoring of air pollution after many stations were shut down earlier this year.
“The EPA is still essentially operating on a Trump budget,” Janeway said. “They were running out of money to maintain the air monitors in the Adirondacks and around the country that measure cross-state air pollution.”
This bill would provide temporary funding to restart that monitoring. He said it would also correct the Supreme Court’s June ruling limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions.
Janeway said the independent economic analysis he’s studying shows this bill would have either a balanced or positive impact on addressing inflation. He said Stefanik should put aside the economic concerns she has to make a move toward energy independence, particularly in clean energy.
“I understand if someone opposes a minimum tax for large corporations, but this is good for the economy and the environment in the Adirondacks,” Janeway said. “It’s not a separate bucket of environmental or economic. This is a chance to do something historic.”
He said there is a rapid scaling up of these energy industries in New York, including hydro power in the Adirondacks.
“We are doing well in New York state. This will help us to even better,” he said.
The bill’s financial incentives for green energy come in many forms — billions of dollars in tax credits for companies building wind turbines, solar panels, battery storage, geothermal plants and advanced nuclear reactors, which produce emissions-free electricity; to $9 billion in rebates and tax credits for consumers making their homes more efficient, lowering the prices of heat pumps, rooftop solar panels, water heaters, electric heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
It would also provide financial incentives for states and electric utilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, to trap CO2 before it enters the atmosphere, to keep existing nuclear plants running, to reduce emissions from livestock and agricultural production, to preserve forests and make them fire-resilient, to provide tax credits for lower- and middle-income people to purchase electric vehicles, to impose fees on the owners of wells and pipelines that leak methane gas, which the Council classifies as a “particularly powerful greenhouse gas” and to support low-income communities and communities of color that are “disproportionately burdened by the environmental and public health effects of climate change.”