Cuomo's "Green New Deal"

Cuomo's "Green New Deal"

Politico New York: December 17, 2018

There's also a Green New Deal in New York, with support from the Green Party and advocacy groups. Those include broader economic goals to boost employment and income equality along with targeting 100 percent renewables across the economy by 2030.


Cuomo sets goal for carbon neutral electric system by 2040

By Marie J. French

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday set a new goal to reduce emissions from the state's electricity generation and promised to support a Green New Deal to get to a completely carbon-free economy.

Details were sparse on what Cuomo's conception of a Green New Deal would entail or when he'd mandate that the state eliminate carbon emissions across the economy. His current goal for the electric sector is 50 percent renewables by 2030, and for emissions in most sectors of the economy to be cut 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

“New York will launch the Green New Deal to make New York’s electricity 100 percent carbon neutral by 2040, and ultimately eliminate the state’s entire carbon footprint," Cuomo said during a speech in New York City, where laid out his agenda for 2019.

Environmental advocates expressed optimism at Cuomo's new goals.

“The new goal is incredibly exciting and motivating,” said Kit Kennedy of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "What happens now is going to be crucial. In other words, is this a goal … and that’s it, or can we get done what we need to get done in New York state on the ground in terms of policy deployment, acceleration of energy efficiency, electric vehicles, Article 10 [the state siting law for large-scale generators] reforms, offshore wind, storage, the whole gamut of zero-carbon technologies."

For advocates who have consistently pushed for more aggressive action, the lack of details or a goal to get to zero percent emissions in the short-run were disappointing.

“A vague pledge of carbon neutrality by the year 2040 is not the bold action necessary to move New York off fossil fuels," said Food and Water Watch's Alex Beauchamp. "Cuomo must go much bigger: A true Green New Deal for New York must include a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure and a commitment to transition New York to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030."

The Cuomo administration did not respond to questions about what a Green New Deal would include, whether legislative action would be required or whether electric generators would be able to purchase carbon offsets to comply with the 2040 goal.

The Democratic governor has already directed the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to study how the state could get to 100 percent renewables, not just in the electric sector but across the economy. He's said he supports that goal. The study was expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The state's current goals in the electric sector, buildings and transportation are already facing implementation challenges. Renewable developers are having issues siting projects, more transmission needs to be built to get renewables from upstate to downstate and environmental advocates are concerned about progress in cutting transportation emissions. The electric sector accounts for about 21 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions, while transportation accounts for 34 percent and buildings for 31 percent.

“Details matter, and we need more of them. Right now, it is difficult to see how ‘carbon neutrality’ is possible on the timeline envisioned,” said Independent Power Producers of New York’s Gavin Donohue, who represents merchant electric generators in the state. “Electric system reliability, affordability, and do-ability are important. In theory, carbon neutrality should be an all-of-the-above approach that incents all generation types to reduce emissions and maintain reliability.”

The state does not control the resource mix in the electric sector but has subsidized carbon-free resources in the past. This has led to tension in the wholesale competitive market, and the state's grid operator is exploring setting a price on carbon to harmonize the market and state goals. Setting the price for carbon would be left to state policymakers, but it's not clear if Cuomo supports the effort.

Environmental groups have been pushing a bill, the Climate and Community Protection Act, to enshrine emissions reduction goals in law. Cuomo, despite noting the support in the new Democrat-controlled Senate for other policies, did not indicate whether he'd support legislation to enact his goals. Sen. Todd Kaminsky, the incoming chair of the environmental conservation committee, plans to hold hearings on this issue.

The Green New Deal at the federal level has been picking up momentum, with backing from incoming New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That proposal, while not well-defined, calls for a commission to be created to detail a plan to get to zero emissions within 10 years of enactment. It also involves provisions to support job creation and support for environmental justice communities.

There's also a Green New Deal in New York, with support from the Green Party and advocacy groups. Those include broader economic goals to boost employment and income equality along with targeting 100 percent renewables across the economy by 2030.

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