New York Approves Its Own Green Deal as Trump Turns ‘Blind Eye’

Source: By Keshia Clukey and Henry Goldman, Bloomberg • Posted: Friday, June 21, 2019

Wind Farm on the Tug Hill Plateau in Lowville, New York. Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

The legislation, approved early Thursday by the state Assembly and Wednesday by the Senate, will set the most aggressive clean-energy targets in the country, calling for huge additions of solar power and massive wind farms off the coast.

“As Washington turns a blind eye and rolls back decades of environmental protections, New York turns to a future of net zero emissions,” Cuomo said in a statement heralding the bill’s passage.

The measure codifies New York’s goal of getting all of its electricity from emission-free sources by 2040, putting the state ahead of all others that have set clean-energy standards — even progressive California, which has targeted 100% clean power by 2045. It also calls for an 85% reduction in economy-wide emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. In promoting the plan during a recent radio program, Cuomo called it “the most aggressive in the country.”

“It’s definitely the most progressive bill that we’ve seen anywhere,’’ Miles Farmer, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview.

Exactly how New York will pull off such an ambitious plan remains to be seen. Utility executives across the U.S. have warned that a 100% green grid is impossible using current technologies.

The bill would boost the amount of solar power in New York to 6 gigawatts by 2025 from about 1.7 gigawatts currently. It also calls for 9 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2035. None of the state’s electricity currently comes from offshore wind.

Comparing New York’s plan to those of other states “is beside the point,” said Ethan Zindler, head of Americas research for BloombergNEF. “The question is can it be done and will there be follow through?”

New York seeks to boost solar power as panel costs have plunged

The measure does give New York’s regulators a blueprint that may lead to stricter pollution limits for power plants and incentives to phase out oil and natural gas from home heating systems. Industry groups including the Business Council of New York State have raised concerns about the potentially higher costs for manufacturing.

New York Senator Robert Ortt, a Republican who opposed the bill, said he was concerned about higher energy prices and job cuts and doubted that the state could meet the goals. “This is a harmful bill passing in the wee hours of the evening,” Ortt said. “It’s going to be bad for the economy.”

The Green New Deal is the name adopted for a climate-change agenda by Democrats, led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, to dramatically shift the U.S. away from fossil fuels and other sources of the emissions that cause global warming.

A growing chorus of cities and states have already set 100% clean power targets. Puerto Rico passed legislation in April. California, Hawaii and New Mexico have made similar legislative pledges.

Among other things, New York’s bill:

  • Supports 3 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2030.
  • Allocates funding for housing, workforce development, pollution reductions and low-income energy assistance in disadvantaged communities.
  • Requires that state agencies take climate and energy goals into consideration in all permitting and funding decisions.

— With assistance by Jim Efstathiou Jr