Government Affairs Albany Udpate - June 15, 2001

Governor's Acid Rain Initiative Proposed

The Department of Environmental Conservation has released draft regulations to implement the Governor's "acid rain initiative."

This program, first announced in October 1999, will require electric generators to significantly reduce emissions of NOx and SOx. Basically, the Sox rule would apply to utility boilers regulated under the federal Clean Air Act sulfur dioxide allowance program (see 42 U.S.C. Section 7651). The NOx rule would apply to electric generators over 25 MW that "sell any amount of electricity."

The proposal would require a 50 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions by 2008, and would extend existing summertime NOx emission control requirements to a year-round basis, effective in 2004. The draft rules also contain provisions allowing temporary exemptions for specific facilities if compliance would adversely impact state's electric power grid.

The new draft regulations are now undergoing review by the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform. It is expected that GORR will solicit input from "stakeholders" prior to their formal proposal this summer. After that, the proposal will be subject to the normal SAPA rulemaking process.

The Business Council will be submitting comments on this draft rulemaking. If you would like to provide input, or would like additional information.

Additional Gubernatorial Actions

The Governor made several other announcements this week related to energy supplies and environmental protection. Governor Pataki:

The eight Great Lakes Governors, including Governor Pataki, are considering new restrictions on water withdrawals within the Great Lakes Basin. The proposal, referred to "Annex 2001," amends the existing Great Lakes Charter. If adopted as proposed, this agreement would required the states to adopt a new regulatory review process for new or increased water withdrawals. For example, any public or private facility proposing new withdrawals would have to: "implement...economically feasible water conservation measures," implement natural resource improvement measures, and assess the "cumulative effects" of water withdrawals. The Governor's are scheduled to act on the proposal during a joint meeting on June 22.

The Business Council has expressed its concerns regarding this proposal to Governor Pataki and other administration officials. We are concerned that it would impose new barriers to economic development measures, including but not limited to the siting of new electric generating facilities.

"GEN*NY*SIS Zone" Legislation

The Senate introduced its "GEN*NY*SIS zone" legislation this week as S.1.

The Business Council strongly supports this bill that would implement a $500 million investment program announced earlier this year by Majority Leader Joe Bruno. The GEN*NY*SIS program focuses on research and development and economic development opportunities in the biotechnology field. If adopted, it would allocate $150 million for basic and applied research, $250 million for technology development and transfer, $95 million for business development, and $5 million for administrative costs. Eight GEN*NY*SIS "Centers of Excellence" projects would be funded in different regions of the state. As stated in The Business Council's memo of support for S.1, "The "GEN*NY*SIS proposal, coupled with the proposal put forth by Governor Pataki and Speaker Silver, represents the most significant world class research technology commitment the state has ever put forth."