Schoonmaker: Climate Action Plan Not Widely Discussed

Letter from Gary R. Schoonmaker

Climate Action Plan Not Widely Discussed

Is there some kind of media blackout around the Climate Action Council’s activities? The New York State government (Legislature and governor), passed a law in 2019 called the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act). That act set a goal of “net-zero carbon emissions for the entire state economy by 2050.”

In order to implement that goal, the legislation commissioned a Climate Action Council to develop a draft Action Plan and then a Final Action Plan. In January 2022, the draft action plan was published and public hearings were subsequently held across New York State. If this is news to you, I expect you are in the majority of citizens of New York State. When I heard about the public hearing in Syracuse, it was only a couple of days before hearings were to be held and I had seen nothing on the news or in newspapers about them. I heard about it on a local Saturday morning radio program discussing how to maintain your home.

I got online and researched what they were talking about and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I labored about what to do, if anything, and finally decided to go to the public hearing and express my deep concerns for what they were proposing. Imagine my surprise when I got to the only public hearing in Central New York to find there was not a single news crew covering the event. Maybe there was a reporter there (I didn’t see one), but no one was filming for television or interviewing any of the presenters, as far as I could see. You know how these things usually are, reporters crowding around fighting to ask questions or get a quote for a story they are writing.

After waiting for more than three hours, I got to make my two-minute presentation. Many of the other people were from universities or environmental advocacy groups. There were a few people from business or unions there advising caution, but the vast majority of presenters were supportive of the state’s climate initiative.

When I got home, I watched the local news and saw not a word about the hearing that had just finished up regarding one of the most consequential plans to affect New York State since the Erie Canal. CRICKETS!! Over the following weeks, I saw no reports about any of the other hearings, either. How is that possible?

After the hearings, there was an opportunity to provide written comments, so I sent in a six-page document elaborating on my two-minute presentation at the hearing. I still heard nothing in news programs about the Climate Action Plan. So, I decided to send my written comments to local and national news outlets and commentators. I received no response from any of them, nor was there any report about the plan, the council or the comments. The closest I got was a brief acknowledgement on the Saturday morning radio program that had started me on my journey. To their credit, they have continued to talk about the plan off and on. But beyond them….very little recognition of the building tyranny.

Gary R. Schoonmaker

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