Report From The Hill


In October of 1973, OPEC imposed an embargo on oil from its member companies, placing the economies of the world at risk.  Domestic oil producers began operating under new rules that required, among other restrictions, “sharing” of low priced crude with companies without such market advantages and skewing refinery output toward heating fuels to protect citizens in the coming winter.  And of course to assure chaos and deflect blame, price controls were imposed to created shortages, long lines and deep resentment of the oil industry.  Then Nixon left and Ford took over, ran and lost, and in 1986, Jimmy Carter became president declaring MEOW.  This problem represented to him the Moral Equivalent of War. Perhaps no one bothered to work on the acronym prior to his coinage.  Nixon’s demise sent democrats into office in many states and DC, too, leading to an “Excess Profits Tax” on oil companies other wise known as a big sales tax on fuel.  No one was happy.

In 1979, another OPEC embargo, this time with all countries de-facto members of the group; production up, no shortages and prices began to stabilize, the economy started to recover and in a year or so, interest rates came down, and Reagan deregulated energy.  Happy again.

The question of the US being at risk because of dependency produced some solutions, continuing through the presidencies Clinton/Bush.  Then an explosion in supply, fracking, and the US, an importer of more than half its daily use of crude, became a net exporter and the world’s largest producer.

The problem now is climate change that may have a multifactorial etiology but carbon from fossil fuels was portrayed as the only or principle cause, so its use must be discouraged (taxed).  We are swimming in energy at very low prices, excluding negative externalities, that NYS’s fossil fuel apparatchiks are resistant to calculate in a cost/benefit study required by law.  No one is happy. China is the largest producer and user of coal in the world, and India generates 70% of its electricity from coal.  The USA is a much smaller contributor to carbon emissions.

In a recent portrayal, Gabriel Byrne suddenly becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain at the demise of the current one.  For reasons known only to the script writer, Byrne starts sprouting climate change to the Indian ambassador who reminds him India needs the energy to prosper, Great Britain  having exploited Indian coal to become a great economic power but now wants India to cut back on coal use.  No one is happy.


Some bills of interest related to the “green deal”.

A 2261 – Enacts “private environmental law enforcement act”; authorizes any private citizen who has an interest which is or may be adversely affected to commence civil judicial actions for injunctive or declaratory relief to remedy environmental harms under certain circumstances; provides that such action may be commenced against any person for any violation of an administrative or court order compelling an investigation or remediation of an inactive hazardous waste disposal site.  3rd Rdg.

A 1466 – Implements the “New York State Build Public Renewables Act” requiring the New York power authority to provide only renewable energy and power to customers; requires such authority to be the sole provider of energy to all state owned and municipal properties; repeals certain provisions relating thereto.

Track this bill

S- 4816 – Relates to tax on sales of motor fuel and petroleum products; repeals certain provisions of law relating thereto. Budget Committee (Senate Finance)

This bill is an extensive overhaul of Articles 12A and 13A of the tax law to structured to discourage the use of carbon based fuels.

s -4097 – Directs the commissioner of the department of environmental conservation to promulgate rules and regulations establishing targets for the sales of zero emissions medium and heavy duty vehicles in the state.  Currently on Senate Committee Agenda

April 16, 2021|

Latest Report from the Hill

Several bills of interest were amended or referred to committees for review.

A-1451 – A – The sponsor has replaced the flat version – A-1451 – with one of the earlier prints introduced over the last four year, retaining many of the confusing language and none of the partial improvements from the senate version introduced 3 years ago by Sen. Tedisco.  The measure effectively allows a propane consumer to solely determine if an emergency exists and a dealer, not the owner of the tank, to supply fuel.  The bill suffers from the same deficiencies as the original hurriedly past in 2017 despite its garbled language and logic.

s- 2522 – Increases the top income tax rate to capture additional revenue on low-taxed investment income.  This may be one of the tax increases to close the state’s budget gap regardless of the amount of any federal allocation to NY. It references the IRS code.

S- 2833 – An additional tax on business income by off-setting the federal undertaxation [sic] of corporate profits and pass-through business income as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  NY’s tax code is coupled to parts of the IRS code; this looks like a decouple.

Bills introduced this week.

S – 2746, S – 2747, S – 2748, S – 2752, S – 2753.  These implement separate items from a report of the Office of Court Administration to protect consumers from contract terms that may favor the stronger party by limiting prerogatives of companies and expanding remedies of delinquent customers.  These measures have been around for many years and passage would certainly clog the court dockets.  The “report” predicts “unclog.”

The New York Attorney General, Lititia James has dropped a political bomb on the 2nd floor (a synecdoche for the governor’s office) in a report on the number of Covid deaths among the elderly at hospitals and nursing homes, in excess of what had been reported by the NYS Department of Public Health.  This discrepancy was widely known but not quantified because the department would not respond to FOIL requests submitted by several groups with some threatening legal action in the courts.

The AG’s report places considerable responsibility on the nursing homes themselves who have maintained the governor applied pressure to force the return of hospitalized patients with Covid- 19 to crowded and ill-equipped facilities.  Families of the deceased have been extremely distressed and now have the data and information to pursue legal action placing the governor in political jeopardy.  The tort bar has a clear path to sue nursing homes who have insurance but sought and failed to get indemnified in federal legislation.  The AG’s office has been a stop on the way to the governor office: Andrew Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer in recent years, and garnered enough political profile to attract funds to mount a race like former AG Robert Abrams.


January 29, 2021|
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