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Cuomo Details Climate Action Plan
Some advocates and activists were not satisfied with the details of Cuomo’s Green New Deal. The Green Party former gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said it was “watered down." He backs a 100 percent carbon free economy by 2030.
By Marie French
CUOMO DETAILS CLIMATE ACTION PLAN — POLITICO’s Marie J. French: Gov. Andrew Cuomo will support a mandate to get to 100 percent "clean, carbon-free" electricity by 2040 by expanding subsidies for renewables. The governor's plan outlined today in his State of the State calls for a statutory Climate Action Council to consider ways to achieve a carbon neutral economy, including a potential multi-state solution. It doesn't, however, set a timeline for getting to that goal, which advocates have pushed for in recent years. Cuomo's plan also includes nods to the labor and environmental justice priorities of some advocates. For example, subsidized projects will be required to pay prevailing wage. In his State of the State speech last year, Cuomo directed NYSERDA to develop a plan to get the state to a 100 percent renewable economy but the agency has not released it, even though it was scheduled to be made public at the end of last year. Cuomo's plan calls for increasing the state's offshore wind target from 2,400 megawatts by 2030 to 9,000 MW by 2035. It would also increase the target for distributed solar from 3,000 MW by 2023 to 6,000 MW by 2025. Subsidies under the Clean Energy Standard for new renewables would more than double. Read more here.
— The aggressive offshore wind target and 2040 electric sector goal put New York ahead of both California (with a 2045 electric goal) and New Jersey on offshore wind. A key part of the Climate Leadership Act, as the measure is dubbed in Cuomo’s budget, is directing the Public Service Commission to accelerate the Clean Energy Standard mandate from 50 percent in 2030 to 70 percent that year. It also enshrines the 2040 carbon-free electricity goal in law and directs the PSC to require utilities to meet that mandate. This definitely allows for nuclear, which currently provides about a third of the state’s electricity, to continue playing a role. Cuomo’s current emissions reduction goals of 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels are also included in the statutory proposal. The measure also calls for considering carbon offsets, such as sequestration in "long term sinks and reservoirs" as part of achieving carbon neutral economy. The “Climate Action Council” would be totally controlled by Cuomo, with the heads of DEC and NYSERDA serving as co-chairs and all representatives from outside the executive branch appointed by the governor. Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the “devil’s in the details.” His conference has passed the Climate and Community Protection Act, which calls for 100 percent carbon free by 2050, for multiple years.
— NYPA FIGHT: Cuomo’s budget proposal also again includes new authority for NYPA to build new renewables and sell both energy and associated services, including renewable energy credits, to more customers.
— ESCO TAX: The elimination of a tax exemption for non-residential customers of energy service companies, or ESCOs, is back in the budget. Read the background here.
— OTHER ITEMS: The governor’s budget also includes $2.5 billion of new water infrastructure money over five years and continues funding for the Environmental Protection Fund at $300 million. Environmental groups will be pleased to see congestion pricing being backed wholeheartedly by Cuomo. The bag ban and bottle fee expansion Cuomo unveiled earlier this week are also included.
ENVIROS REACT: Initial reactions to Cuomo new commitments was largely positive from the institutional environmental groups across the state. “New York was the birthplace of the environmental movement — and it can be the home of green resistance to the Trump administration today. The Governor made several promises that can help us rise to that challenge,” said Natural Resources Defense Council’s Rich Schrader.
… Some advocates and activists were not satisfied with the details of Cuomo’s Green New Deal. The Green Party former gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said it was “watered down." He backs a 100 percent carbon free economy by 2030. “Recognizing the need to move off fossil fuels and accelerate solar, wind, and storage, Cuomo failed to mention concrete legislation or transformative plans to get us from 5% renewables to a 100% renewable-powered fossil free New York,” said Cata Romo, an activist with 350.org. — Marie