New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced approval last week for 26 large-scale renewable energy projects, including 22 solar projects worth 647 megawatts (MW) and 733.58 MW worth of wind energy.
At the same time, Governor Cuomo announced that his state has filed to be excluded from the recently-announced federal offshore drilling program, claiming that opening up New York State’s offshore for drilling risks its tourism and fishing industries.
Speaking at New York University last week, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo — joined by former Vice President Al Gore — announced the single-largest commitment to renewable energy by any US state, which is worth $1.4 billion, and approved 26 large-scale renewable energy projects across New York.
The 26 projects are the awarded winners of the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard mandate and include 22 solar farms across the state, a hydroelectric project, and three wind farms worth 339.78 MW, 272 MW, and 121.8 MW respectively, the latter of which will be accompanied by 6.2 MW energy storage capacity.
In all, the newly-awarded large-scale renewable energy projects are expected to provide enough clean electricity to power more than 430,000 homes and create over 3,000 short- and long-term jobs.
“This is an historic moment for New York as we make the largest purchasing commitment to renewable energy by a state in the history of our country,” said Alicia Barton, NYSERDA President and CEO. “Achieving 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 is a cornerstone of Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading agenda to fight climate change, and I look forward to watching these projects create jobs, expand our clean energy economy and provide New Yorkers with clean, reliable power for decades.”
Governor Cuomo also announced at New York University that the state is seeking an exemption from the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) which was announced earlier this year by US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The National OCS Program seeks to make over 90% of the total Outer Continental Shelf available for oil and gas exploration and drilling, claiming that 98% of the “undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas” would be found here.
“Responsibly developing our energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and well-regulated way is important to our economy and energy security, and it provides billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands and parks,” said Secretary Zinke at the time. However, it was announced soon after that the state of Florida would be exempt from having its own coastline despoiled due to its threat to the state’s tourism and wildlife.
Unsurprisingly, numerous other coastal states raised their hands as well, publicly wondering whether exemptions would be as easily acquired by Blue states.
According to Governor Cuomo, New York has similarly sought an exemption based on similar justifications as Florida used to secure its exemption. New York claims its ocean economy generates $11 billion in wages and contributes $23 billion in gross domestic product, and that the state would stand to lose nearly 320,000 jobs and billions of dollars in tourism and fishing industry if they were not granted an exemption.
“Instead of protecting our waters from another oil spill, like the one that devastated the Gulf, this new federal plan only increases the chances of another disaster taking place,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is a total disregard for science, reality, and history, and their actions defy everything we know. We believe the future is a clean energy economy and New York is going to lead a counter-movement to what this administration is doing to the environment and illuminate the path forward.”
In addition to the monetary impact, Governor Cuomo also explained that offshore drilling risks his state’s clean energy and climate policies.
“Governor Cuomo is demonstrating outstanding leadership in helping to solve the climate crisis and building a sustainable future,” said Vice President Al Gore. “His vision and leadership stand in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s malignant mission to make us even more dependent on the dirty and destructive fossil fuels. Now more than ever, it’s up to all of us to step up and act on this urgent cause of our time. Governor Cuomo is showing how it can be done.”