Leibowitz: Governor takes the environmental mantle

Cleaning house: By turning away from fossil fuels and toward wind-generated power and other renewable options, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has become an environmental leader, according to Environment New York Director Heather Leibowitz

The environmental initiatives outlined in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State Address will help conserve our natural heritage and lead the way in the fight against climate change.

The governor discussed a range of pro-environmental initiatives, including proposals to expand the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, issue solicitations in 2018 and 2019 to develop at least 800 megawatts of offshore wind projects and foster offshore wind industries and create the zero-cost Solar for All Program for 10,000 low-income New Yorkers. He also directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations to close all coal plants.

The message in Wednesday’s State of the State was clear: By reducing pollution and shifting to clean energy, we can grow our economy while leaving a healthier, safer planet for our children.

The governor took his climate leadership even further by directing the DEC to adopt regulations to close all coal plants. The governor’s action will accelerate New York’s transition away from polluting fuels and toward efficient use of clean power from the wind and the sun.

This means cleaner air for families, less global-warming pollution, more stable electricity bills and a stronger economy.

The governor also acknowledged the important role of wind energy in accomplishing these goals. The start of an offshore wind procurement schedule is a big step toward making the Empire State a leader in the effort to reduce air and water pollution and eliminate climate-altering carbon pollution from our use of coal, oil and gas.

By tapping into the abundant energy provided by this pollution-free resource, we’re well on our way to the ultimate goal of meeting our energy needs entirely with clean, renewable energy.

We look forward to working with state officials and others to improve our health, our quality of life and the future of the planet, with a swift and steady shift to clean, renewable energy. We applaud the governor’s continued commitment to expand deployment of this unlimited and pollution-free energy source for the benefit of our environment and economy. While New York is not a country, it is the third-largest economy in the United States and our leadership matters, and the governor reiterated that he is embracing this leadership.

Leibowitz: Cuomo, New York take charge.

New York’s forward-thinking policies, like the RGGI, have made a clean-energy transition a realistic scenario. RGGI is a multi-state collaboration which proves that we can work together across party lines to cut pollution, clean our air and protect our climate.

Especially in an era where politicians in Washington seem unable to work together on almost anything, this decision is a triumph for bipartisanship and for common sense. Our region has a long history of working to reduce air pollution, setting a strong example for the rest of the country. This announcement continues that tradition.

The governor’s announcements make this innovative and successful program work even better. It will cut pollution by at least another 30 percent across the nine-state RGGI region from 2020 to 2030. If cutting pollution turns out to be easier and cheaper than anticipated, the limit on pollution will automatically grow tighter, reinforcing progress. The new rules exceed what would have been required under the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan by about a third.

Future impacts of global warming depend on the choices we make today. By accelerating our transition to pollution-free energy sources, we can prevent the worst impacts. The governor showed that many right choices are being made to help prevent damage to our climate and protect our children’s future.

Ms. Leibowitz is the director of Environment New York, a statewide advocacy organization.