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Governor Signs Climate Leadership Act

Monday, July 22, 2019

Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday signed into law the the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which adopts what he called the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country.

The law requires the state to achieve a carbon-free electricity system by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim mandate of 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.

The new law aims to drive investment in clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, energy efficiency and energy storage.

It mandates that at least 70 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by 2030, and that the state’s power system is 100 percent carbon-neutral by 2040.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act also codifies the state’s commitments to install 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035; 6,000 megawatts of distributed solar by 2025; and 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030.

As the governor signed the climate bill into law yesterday, he also announced the winners of New York’s first comprehensive offshore wind solicitation. The Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind development projects of Equinor US Holdings, Inc. and Bay State Wind LLC, will together deliver 1,700 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than one million New York homes, the governor said.

The Sunrise Wind project is located in a lease area of New York Waters east of Montauk Point. The Empire Wind project is located in a lease area of the Atlantic south of Nassau County.

The projects will support more than 1,600 jobs with a combined economy activity of $3.2 billion statewide, according to NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“The environment and climate change are the most critically important policy priorities we face,” Cuomo said at a press conference yesterday. “They literally will determine the future or the lack thereof.”

Cuomo dismissed the objections of climate change deniers, including President Donald Trump, who pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, has sought to increase carbon-based fossil fuel production by expanding exploration and drilling for offshore oil, and proposed relaxed emissions standards.

“Even in this chaos of political pandering and hyperbole, there are still facts, data, and evidence. And climate change is an indisputable scientific fact. Period. To deny climate change is to deny reality. All credible scientists agree,” Cuomo said.

Assembly Member Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), chairperson of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee and sponsor of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, yesterday called climate change “one of the most important issues we face.”

The new legislation takes a comprehensive and proactive approach, Englebright said, by requiring lower emissions and encouraging the development of new technologies and job opportunities.

“New York has always been an environmental leader and this legislation, as well as the offshore wind project, provides the latest evidence,” Englebright said.

“As of today, New York has awarded a total of approximately 4,700 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy contracts since March 2018 through three separate solicitations, a globally significant advancement in renewable energy in just two years,” NYSERDA said in a press release. “Collectively, these projects will provide enough renewable energy to power up to two million households and meet nearly 10 percent of New York’s electricity needs by 2025.”

The legislation drew a chorus of support from environmental advocacy groups, business development groups and labor unions.

“Today, New York begins its official breakup with fossil fuels,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. He said the new law “will both slash climate pollution and provide a playbook for the rest of the nation to follow.”

The Nature Conservancy said it applauds the governor for “putting New York on a path to become the nation’s largest producer of offshore wind energy.”

The offshore wind procurement announced yesterday demonstrates the state’s continued commitment to “lead the nation in developing a clean energy economy,” Long Island Association president and CEO Kevin Law said. “The projects approved today and those still under consideration will help make Long Island the offshore wind capital of the country and will create good-paying jobs and attract billions of dollars of investment in our region,” Law said.

“The planet received good news about public policy taken by the State of New York,” John R. Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor said. “Governor Cuomo’s first large procurement of offshore wind power is a major step forward in the fight against climate change and an opportunity to develop an emerging industry. It is particularly significant for Long Island, whose workforce is ready to meet the challenges ahead.”

Matt Aracich, president, Building Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties agreed. “With advancements in climate preservation technology and an aggressive policy focused on renewable energy comes a new job market accessible to working class New Yorkers,” Aracich said.

“The Building Trades Council is proud of NYSERDA’s initiative to tackle climate change while still considering the standards and careers of the hard working men and women in labor. Programs such as the offshore wind development will significantly benefit our region while providing sustainable, green jobs for years to come,” Aracich said.

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