Governor Unveils New Climate Proposals

State of the state annoucements included more renewable energy, advancing RGGI, and encouraging electric vehicle adoption.

During the Governor’s whirlwind State of the State tour, he made many pledges that have pleased environmentalists. From renewable energy to open spaces, here are some details of the Governor’s announcements:

One major, but easily overlooked announcement by the Governor was to lower the Reggional Greenhouse Gap Initative (RGGI) cap by 30% by 2030. Right now, the RGGI schedule ends in 2020, but the proposal would lower the cap from 78.2 million tons of GHG emissions in 2020 to 54.6 million tons in 2040. States such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont will also follow New York’s lead in reducing carbon emissions in hopes of transitioning to cleaner energy. In strengthening the RGGI plan, the states will reduce their carbon emissions rate from 78.2 million tons in 2020 to 75.1 millions tons the following year. By 2030, the initiative plans on reducing carbon emissions to 54.6 million tons. This move, if agreed to by the eight other RGGI states, would ensure continued climate leadership for decades.

During his speech on Long Island, Governor Cuomo announced a proposal to commit New York State to developing 2.4 gigwatts of offshore wind power by 2030. By doing this the state can also power an estimated 50,000 homes. By building the wind farm, the state hopes to further spur economic development and energy diversity, which can also ensure job creation.  The proposal to build a wind farm followed shortly after the governor’s announcement in Westchester to close the Indian Point nuclear facility by 2021.  The Governor also urged LIPA to approve a proposed 90 megawatt windfarm 30 miles off the cost of Montauk. The project’s developer, Deep Water Wind, already has a lease for the space and a contract in place, making the project all the more likely to occur provided its approval on both a federal and state level.

While not only providing clean, reliable electricity, new offshore wind farms will also promote clean air, pollution reduction, and ecosystem conservation. The cables that are to connect the wind plant to the mainland are to be placed in a method that will ensure the preservation of underwater ecosystems. The offshore wind proposal, along with the RGGI plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help to progress the state further towards its goal of increasing New York’s use of renewable energy, towards a goal of fifty percent renewable energy by 2030.

In addition to promoting renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions during his State of the State speeches, the Governor also announced an initiative to spur electric vehicle adoption by creating an expansive network of charging stations throughout the state. Currently, only four charging stations exist within the Thruway system, so electric vehicles must exit the system to recharge — now the Thruway Authority will install 69 new plug-in electric vehicle stations along the Thruway. Five hundred new workplace charging stations will also be installed. We were also pleased to see that the Governor proposed continuing fully funding the Environmental Protection Fund through 2017 and increasing investment in New York’s outdoor economy by constructing the Empire State Trail. This trail would connect all four corners of New York State to create the largest state multi-use trail network in the country.

Governor Cuomo’s proposals contribute to the global effort to fight climate change while also ensuring land conservation and the protection of public health. Through these efforts the state hopes to create solutions for lasting sustainable policy in order to build a better future for New York.