Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.38
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date March 1, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Gary Stewart
Director of Community Relations
Department of Government and Community Relations
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

A variety of Cornell units and members of the University community are regularly engaged with Tompkins County organizations and leaders working on carbon neutrality, sustainability, and cutting-edge strategies that touch on government policies, utility infrastructure and more efficient ways to engage and empower.

A Cornell staffer serves on the county-appointed Environmental Management Council, http://tompkinscountyny.gov/emc while staff and faculty have offered inputs and expertise in development of the Tompkins County Energy Roadmap.

Cornell was also a founding member of the world-class Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, http://www.tccpi.org that includes governments, businesses and citizens from all walks of life, who advocate for key legislation, and related ordinances tied to solar, wind, coal, natural gas, and on other key topics/

Finally, Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, http://www.atkinson.cornell.edu is the first research institution to unite three pillars of sustainability—energy, environment, and economic development—in one center. Grant programs have provided leadership and resources tied to public policy, and related developments.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

In 2017 we worked very hard to change or clarify the tax law so that renewable energy projects would not be subject to exorbitant assessments from municipal officials. We have not succeeded yet but are planning a February or March forum to make these changes described below. A law from1990 that allows counties and school districts to exempt renewable energy projects (solar and wind) from real property taxes has been used by assessors to impose real property taxes on all the equipment placed at solar and wind energy sites. We are working with NYS legislators to change this law or clarify it’s applicability because it was not intended to be used this way and is leading to assessments on not only the structures but all the temporary equipment used to generate PV electricity. Two of these local assessments on Cornell renewable energy projects are the subject of court cases pending. We are also actively working with the State Legislature and NYSERDA and the PSC to change the regulations governing the ownership and marketability of Renewable Energy Certificates in NYS. NYS regulations currently restrict the tradability of these RECs. We did succeed in reversing their decision for NYS to own and hold all the RECs resulting from any projects built with any NYS funds. Now we are working to be able to trade or sell our RECs to in-state and out-of-state entities.

We have faculty and staff in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (led by Lara Skinner) who quantify the economic value of clean energy projects in New York. It is valuable for policymakers to see the number of jobs and the kinds of jobs and pay that result from the manufacture, construction, and operation of renewable energy projects and sustainable buildings. These are then compared to the jobs required for the continued operation of fossil fuel plants. There is keen interest in employment numbers and our Workforce Development Institute at the ILR School is able to estimate these impacts. A recent report documenting the economic and employment benefits of building off-shore wind in the ocean off of Long Island was well received and has contributed to the efforts of NYS to invest in this project.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Cornell University is a strong advocate for policies that have a direct impact on the university and its students, faculty, staff, and operations as a non-profit institution with missions of education, research, patient care, and outreach. Cornell faculty are expert on many issues that touch on sustainability, and the University encourages these individuals to share their expertise and research to help shape federal policy across a broad range of areas including climate change, energy policy, agricultural practices, economic development, water resources, invasive species, sustainable development, and species conservation, among others.

Cornell University advocates for robust funding for the federal agencies that sponsor research on sustainability, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture (including the National Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service), Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautic & Space Administration, and US Geological Survey. Cornell continues to lobby against legislation that would place restrictions on funding for entire research disciplines (i.e., climate change, social science) that impact sustainability. The University also actively opposes legislation and policy changes that would impose political conditions and filters on scientific research, squelch data collection and dissemination, politicize the peer review process, remove scientists from serving federal scientific advisory panels, and discredit or ignore scientific findings.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:
No

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

N/A


A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

N/A


A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

N/A


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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