A climate change answer in the wind 

Source: BY JOHN DURSO, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS • Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This is Germany. Why not off Long Island?FABIAN BIMMER/REUTERSThis is Germany. Why not off Long Island?
I n the wake of the People’s Climate March — and with world leaders descending on the UN to make pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — the city is abuzz with talk about how to move toward cleaner, sustainable energy. On Monday, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced plans to divest its millions from fossil fuels.New York has a precious opportunity to move decisively toward environmentally sound power generation — while producing thousands of well-paying jobs in a region that needs them desperately.

It’s called Deepwater One, and it would be one of the first offshore wind farms in the United States. Located roughly 30 miles east of Montauk, L.I., the turbines would capture the strong winds in the deep Atlantic Ocean waters.

They would not be visible from shore and could provide 200 megawatts of renewable energy to the Long Island Power Authority.

All those who descended on the streets of Manhattan this past weekend to sound the climate alarm should be foursquare behind this project. And so should those for whom producing high-quality jobs is a bigger priority than safeguarding the environment.

To envision the potential of offshore wind power, all one needs to do is look to Europe. Today, roughly 60,000 people are employed by Europe’s still-growing, multibillion-dollar offshore wind industry, with dozens of wind farms off the coasts of the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Entire cities have been transformed into industrial hubs for these green jobs. By 2020, some 191,000 people are expected to be working in the industry.

No offshore wind farms have yet been built here, but the potential is exciting: The U.S. Energy Department estimates that nearly 40,000 workers could be employed in the industry on the East Coast by 2030.

Deepwater One is an ideal place to start. Tuesday, the Long Island Power Authority is scheduled to meet for the first time to consider the project.

For a region damaged so severely by Hurricane Sandy, the environmental reasons for embracing zero-emissions energy production should be obvious. Our union members were on the front lines of the devastation and cleanup from that disaster; many are still repairing their homes and recovering financially.

The economic reasons are equally apparent. As unionists, we maintain a strong commitment to representing members employed by utilities currently powered by traditional fuels. Unionized jobs associated with power plants, electrical and gas transmission and the maintenance of these facilities are part of the foundation of communities across New York State.

Nevertheless, we cannot forgo the economic and environmental opportunities associated with sustainable energy, a growing economic engine worldwide.

If our state and region lead in the green economy, we will help create countless jobs of the future with the resilience to withstand economic shocks.

New York State — and in particular, Long Island — have the potential to be at the forefront of a new homegrown industry.

We begin with a large pool of skilled workers. From welding to construction, fabrication to assembly, these are jobs that are our members are ready, willing and able to handle.

Long Island should be a hub of offshore wind development. With our strategic location centered on the East Coast and an advanced supply chain from the aerospace industry, the region is poised to lead.

Gov. Cuomo declared this “Climate Week” in New York State. He can take a huge step forward himself by becoming the chief champion of Deepwater One.

Let’s put our men and women back to work — on a project that could propel a new American energy industry.

Durso is the president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, and the president of Local 338, RWDSU/UFCW.