Hawkins Lobbying Legislators for 100% Clean Energy by 2030
Albany–Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins is lobbying state legislators today in support of the New York Off Fossil Fuels Act (NY OFF, A.5105/S.5908A ). The bill would amend the state’s energy master plan to require a transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. It would halt the building of any new infrastructure for natural gas or other fossil fuels.
The lobby day in Albany is organized by Food & Water Watch and the Green Education and Legal Fund. Over 100 organizations in the state have endorsed the NY OFF Act.
“I support NY OFF because it’s the only climate bill before the legislature that actually does what the climate science says we must do. The science says that industrial states like New York must get to 100% clean energy and zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if the planet is to avert runaway global warming and climate catastrophe,” Hawkins said.
“New York’s economy would rank tenth among the world’s nations in size, ahead of major countries like Russia. What New York does makes a big difference. New York can set the example for the nation and the world for how to get out of the climate emergency,” Hawkins added.
Hawkins called for 100% clean energy by 2030 in his previous two gubernatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2014. He made it the centerpiece of his Green New Deal program of public investments in public infrastructure, goods, and services for economic recovery, full employment, and environmental restoration.
He based his “100 by 30” call in 2010 on a global study led by Stanford University engineer Mark Jacobson that was first summarized in Scientific American in November 2009. By his 2014 campaign, Jacobson and associates from Cornell and other New Yorkers had done a detailed 2013 study of 100 by 30 for New York State.
The Jacobson et al. study for New York found that it was technically feasible and economically beneficial to make the 100 by 30 transition. It found 4.5 million jobs would be created in manufacturing and construction to build out the system. Electric power rates would be cut more than half to significantly lower the costs of living and doing business in New York State.
Cuomo “Lost His Bearings” on Energy Policy
“Cuomo’s clean energy goals are too little, too late. His commitment to burning fracked-gas for 30 or 40 more years by building new gas pipeline and power plant infrastructure is a recipe for climate disaster,” Hawkins said.
Cuomo has said his goal of 50% electricity from renewable sources by 2030 depends on natural gas pipelines and power plants “done well.” “I don’t think you can get from here to there without using natural gas,” Cuomo told the Buffalo News last year.
“If Cuomo thinks natural gas is the bridge to the renewable future, he has lost their bearings. That bridge is out. If we go down that road, we will fly off into the abyss of climate catastrophe,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins called on Cuomo to immediately stop two of the most destructive fracked-gas plants, the Sheridan Hollows plant in Albany for powering the Empire State Plaza and the Competitive Power Ventures plant in Orange County, which is caught up in the bribery scandal involving Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco and CPV’s Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr.
Hawkins said Cuomo’s goal of 50% clean electricity by 2030 only address about 25% of the state’s greenhouse emissions. A realistic energy plan must also address the sectors of transportation and building heating and cooling, each of which account for one-third of the state’s carbon footprint, as well as agriculture, which accounts for 10%.
Hawkins also blasted Cuomo’s $7.6 billion subsidy to keep three economically unviable nuclear power plants operating in Oswego, New York. Hawkins, a longtime safe energy activist who was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976, does not consider nuclear power to be clean energy due the long-lived nuclear waste it generates and the risks of clamitous nuclear accidents.
Climate & Community Protection Act Follows Democrats, Not Science
Hawkins was also critical of a moderate climate bill called the Climate & Community Protection Act ( A8270B/S7971A ), which calls for 100% clean energy by 2050.
“Instead of starting with what the science indicates we must do, this bill seems to do only what Democratic leaders are willing to say they are for – and they won’t be around in 2050 to answer for the consequences,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins noted what he sees as significant shortcomings of the CCPA compared to NY OFF.
- OFF NY requires 100% clean energy by 2030 while CCPA waits until 2050.
- Only NY OFF requires local governments to develop Climate Action Plans in concert with a state Climate Action Plan.
- Only OFF NY defines clean energy as solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal – and not nuclear, biomass, or natural gas and other fossil fuels.
- Only NY OFF stops new fossil fuel infrastructure.
- Only NY OFF phases out nuclear power.
- Only NY OFF requires zero emissions for all new vehicles, with a deadline of 2025.
- Only NY OFF requires net zero emissions for new buildings, with a deadline of 2020.
Hawkins said the CCPA has good provisions with respect to Just Transition and Environmental Justice policies. But these measures are also in NY OFF, which provides for climate justice boards, job training and replacement jobs for workers displaced by the energy transition, funding to cover lost local property taxes due to power plant closures, and conveying a generous portion climate funds to disadvantaged communities.