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NYS Senate bill could lead to higher prices at the pump

Mike Mozart
A bill in the NYS Senate could lead to higher gas prices

A proposal in the New York State Senate could mean more pain at the gas pump for central New Yorkers. However, the bill’s supporters say it will help the environment, and the cost won’t necessarily end up hurting consumers’ wallets.

Opponents of the Climate and Community Investment Actsaid it could increase the gas tax as much as 55 cents per gallon, making New York’s tax at the pump the highest in the country. They also argue the bill could increase home heating costs more than 25% for people who use propane, natural gas, or fuel oil to heat their homes.  

Sen. Joe Griffo(R-Rome) said if that happens, it would be economically devastating to his district. 

"This proposal would be problematic in so many ways,” said Griffo. “I mean, because the car is a way of life here. It is not just for recreational purposes. People need this to go to work. People need this to take care of business."

The bill was introduced by Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) with the goal of minimizing the risks of climate change by reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions.

Syracuse area Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) is a co-sponsor on the bill. She said most New Yorkers would not pay that much extra due to a system of rebates, but she said it might make them think twice at the pump. 

"Maybe they will shift and combine their trips sometimes and not drive quite as much,” said May.  “Or start riding a bicycle or walking or trying to set up their lives so they're not quite as dependent on the fossil fuels."

Griffo said the milestones in the bill are unrealistic, and he would like to see a more diversified portfolio to help the environment, looking into alternative energy sources such as solar and wind.

"The carbon footprint in New York has actually been reduced,” said Griffo. “I have no problem continuing to move in that direction to say we need to be mindful of that and be good stewards of the environment, but I also don't believe that the answer is to tax people and to put excessive burdens on people."

May thinks there can be a balance.

"We need to have this conversation, so that we can all work together to figure out, ‘How do we solve this problem in a way that is equitable, that's fair, that’s effective?’” said May.

May says she expects the bill to be revised before a vote. The end of the legislative session is June 10. 

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.