As she runs for a full term in office, Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing data-gathering hybrid cars in a green push for New York City that also includes more energy efficient buildings.

Toyota Priuses armed with rooftop air monitors are patrolling block-by-block through Manhattan and the Bronx as part of a new $3 million state initiative to document pollution in communities across the state to better inform policy responses later on, she announced Wednesday.

“By launching this historic statewide air quality and greenhouse gas monitoring initiative we will develop strategies to address air quality issues in New York’s most vulnerable communities, while contributing to the state’s nation-leading climate goals,” Hochul said.

The mobile air monitors are part of a climate change offensive launched by Hochul in recent days that leverage atypical policy tools.

A bill she signed into law Tuesday tightens energy standards in new buildings — including the installation of any hot tubs — while expanding the prevailing wage for union workers on renewable projects.

Gov. Hochul is looking to combat climate change in NYC.
Gabriella Bass

A third new law lifts barriers on utilities creating energy efficient thermal networks that run room temperature water through multiple buildings.

Hochul said such efforts represent “a major step forward” for the state in meeting its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 per legislation codified in 2019. 

A recent decision by the US Supreme Court limiting the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emission highlights the need for states like New York to take action against climate change in ways big and small, according to Hochul.

“We’re going to continue working to make sure that we don’t stand on the sidelines. I think we kind of send out our message here today to the Supreme Court. This is New York. Do what you want, but we’re going to do everything we can to protect our lives, our families, our bodies, as well as our planet’s future,” Hochul said Tuesday.

Hochul is running for a full term in office against Republican nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk) who has vowed to take a more pro-business approach to energy policy if elected this fall.

The new climate initiative includes a modified Prius that will drive around New York City equipped with rooftop air monitors.
Getty Images

“We have to reverse the state’s ban on the safe extraction of natural gas,” Zeldin told Fox News earlier this week.

“We can be exporting not just to other states, we can be exporting energy to other countries. We can create jobs and generate revenue and revitalize communities. We can help pay for what is a plan for the largest tax cut in the history of the state,” he added.

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