Today Governor Cuomo announced that New York will formally request an exclusion from the federal government’s planned development of oil and gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf. Governor Cuomo also announced that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is investing $1.4 billion in 26 large-scale renewable energy projects across the state.
In April 2017 President Trump issued an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to reverse long-standing federal policy that blocked offshore oil and gas exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf, which includes New York’s coastal waters. Offshore drilling harms the environment and our economy in several ways. First, air gun tests that are used to explore the size of oil and gas deposits under the sea floor can harm marine life from thousands of miles away, disrupting mating, migration, and other vital activities for a healthy ecosystem. Second, the infrastructure of oil and gas drilling directly harms marine life, decimates the fishing industry, and blights the coastline. Third, an oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon, which could easily be triggered by future hurricanes and superstorms, would be unimaginably damaging to New York’s marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and marine industries.
NYLCV has been working with other environmental groups across the state to oppose the federal government’s offshore drilling plans, and we were thrilled to stand behind the Governor and former Vice President Al Gore this morning. Of course, opposing new fossil fuel development isn’t enough to achieve a net zero carbon future; we must also support renewable energy projects around the state, on rooftops and backyards as well as at utility scale.
Governor Cuomo’s announcement of $1.4 billion for 22 solar farms, three wind farms, and one hydroelectric project will move us closer to the Clean Energy Standard’s goal of obtaining 50% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The projects announced this morning will add 1,380 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to the grid by 2022. Furthermore, the Governor committed $3.8 billion towards a procurement of 800 megawatts of offshore wind that was previously announced during his State of the State speech.
Ambitious climate and renewable energy goals are an important motivator for policy makers and activists, but they risk becoming empty headlines if they aren’t married to concrete projects, funding, and investments of political capital. Today’s announcement is exactly the kind of commitment we need if we’re going to meet our goals.