In 2022, New York State was pursuing the most aggressive carbon reduction policies in the nation.
While the New York State Association of REALTORS® (NYSAR) understands and supports the need to transition away from fossil fuels, some of the recommendations made by the state’s Climate Action Council (CAC) struck the association as extreme, unreasonable, and sure to have a negative impact on current and aspiring property owners. What’s more, the plan wasn’t being adequately communicated to the public. Armed with a Consumer Advocacy Grant from the REALTOR® Party, NYSAR mounted an education and advocacy campaign; it was joined by five local associations in strategic State Senate districts. Together, they got the necessary information out to the public and their concerns through to lawmakers, resulting in a far more measured set of laws and regulations.
Mike Kelly, NYSAR’s Government Affairs Director, says that among the most troubling recommendations of the Climate Action Council was the proposed ban on natural gas service to existing buildings, and prohibiting natural gas, propane, and oil equipment in new homes, beginning in 2024. “NYSAR supports the need to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, but we were deeply concerned about the expeditious implementation of some of these proposals, as well as the fact that no cost projections were provided in the draft scoping plan. New York is already facing a severe housing shortage,” he continues, “and the negative impact of these policies on housing affordability and accessibility would have been enormous.”
Through polling conducted with the help of the National Association of REALTORS®, NYSAR confirmed that the public was largely unaware of what was coming, explains Kelly. “It was clear that we needed to raise awareness about the proposals, the expedited timeline, and the estimated cost burden on homeowners, and get lawmakers to focus on the impact it would have on New York residents.” A Consumer Advocacy Grant from the REALTOR® Party enabled the association to create compelling infographics and advertise online; they also built a website that communicates information directly with voters, giving those in swing Senate districts, in particular, the opportunity to contact their legislators to express their concern about the effect the CAC recommendations would have on the state’s already-dire housing situation.
The campaign succeeded, says Kelly, in engaging the public, building a base of support, and relaying the message to state lawmakers that cost and reliability needed to be important considerations as they formulated their climate action policies. At the end of the day, the standards adopted were significantly less extreme than the original recommendations: new buildings less than seven stories will have to be all-electric starting in 2026, and new buildings under six stories, by 2029. In addition, in communities that don’t have the necessary grid reliability for development , the requirement could be waived altogether, and certain exemptions were made including hospitals, restaurants and emergency backup generators. “Our members felt a real sense of relief on both a personal and professional level, and are grateful that we were able to mitigate the extreme retrofitting requirements,” reports Kelly. “We could not have run the type of campaign we did without the support and backing of the REALTOR Party.”
To learn more about how the New York State Association of REALTORS® is protecting residents from policies that would make homeownership less affordable or accessible, contact Government Affairs Director Mike Kelly at email@example.com or 518.463.0300; or visit https://nyelectrificationfacts.com.