But after the city council passed legislation forcing buildings to meet new greenhouse gas emission standards, it has become even more important to note how the policy will further worsen the city’s housing crisis while pushing many small-business owners out of the Big Apple for good.
The bill has the goal of cutting the pollution that comes from city buildings by 40 percent over the next decade. Impacting over 50,000 buildings, this legislation’s proponents claim that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions will be finally slashed by 80 percent.
Much like Ocasio-Cortez’s plan, the proposal calls for buildings to be completely retrofitted for energy efficiency. This change, which if passed by Washington would have completely damaged the country’s economy, is now being implemented on a smaller scale in one of the largest metropolitan centers in the United States. And as expected, the bill has broad support in New York, with 38 of the 51 city council members sponsoring the legislation.
What Made This Bill Possible?
With such an irresponsible bill passing without much of an opposition, it is important not to ignore the politically charged climate that gave rise to this movement.
Just a couple of weeks after the FBI’s Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller released his report on the alleged Russia collusion, politicians who have long been supporters of the claim President Trump was involved in a conspiracy are no longer able to use the investigation to support their claims. This condition, which left much of the mainstream media in a particularly delicate situation, appears to continue to bother opposing politicians who will do anything to double down on policies that Trump stands against. That is clearly the case with climate-related legislation.
As clearly stated by Donna De Costanzo, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s eastern-region climate and clean-energy program, New York City’s latest move is not about helping anybody. Instead, it is a direct response to the current administration’s refusal to support green policies.
“As the Trump administration escalates its assault on environmental protections,” she said, “our cities and states are assuming the mantle of leadership.”
“New York City is taking critical climate action with the passage of bold legislation.”
Despite the big words of support for the “bold” legislation, little is discussed about the bill’s potential impact, not just on local businesses and their employees, but also on the taxpayer’s wallet.
As explained by free market economists, Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal has a plan to retrofit buildings to be energy-efficient. While NYC’s plan is slightly different, it maintains this policy’s core goal. But what the bill doesn’t explain is that this type of policy would increase the costs for the construction and real estate industries to such an extent that it’s plainly naïve to assume politically powerful groups won’t get a monetary incentive to do as the bill says.
As a matter of fact, the package passed on Thursday by the city council involved a new sustainable-energy loan program, which will probably draw heavily on government subsidies.
Furthermore, the bill could also hurt the local economy by keeping tech and media companies from setting up shop in New York.
According to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), a few buildings would have to shoulder the financial cost of the legislation, pushing some building owners out of the city. In addition, developers would be discouraged from erecting new large constructions, pushing rent up.
Another potential consequence is that companies that use a lot of energy such as technology firms would also have to move away, afraid newly retrofitted buildings might not provide them with the energy they need.
“Three years from now, when a new City Council is seated, the press releases issued this week cheering the Council’s ‘bold’ action will be long-forgotten and the hard truth will settle in,” REBNY said. “With so many exemptions and carve-outs, we will be confronted with the fact that our city is off-track from meeting its ambitious 40 percent carbon reduction goal by 2030.”
It’s almost as if the city council and Mayor Bill de Blasio have absolutely no incentive to look at the long-term consequences of their decisions as city officials. After all, they don’t have to prove they are right; they just have to pass bills that sound good to their electorate at the moment. And it’s because of this irresponsible approach to policy that New York is in this current state of disarray.