Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State: We Can Have Both a Clean Environment and Strong Economy

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s state of the state address, combined for the first time with his executive budget proposal, discussed a range of pro-environmental initiatives. The Governor’s announcement included proposals to: raise the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $300 million; spend $15 million to clean energy opportunity training programs to train workers for solar installation and technology; install solar panels on over 150,000 homes and business; and, eliminate the use of coal in New York State by 2020. 

Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York, issued the following statement in response:

The environmental initiatives the Governor outlined today will help conserve our natural heritage and lead the way in the fight against climate change. The message in today’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.  

Less than two months ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the State Department of Public Service to design and enact a new Clean Energy Standard mandating that 50 percent of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 result from clean and renewable energy sources. 

Today the Governor went even further, and declared New York State would eliminate coal fired power plants by 2020. The governor’s action will accelerate New York’s transition away from polluting fuels and towards 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 acknowledged the important role of solar energy in accomplishing these goals, and discussed dedicating $15 million to clean energy opportunity training programs to train workers for solar installation and technology. 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.

Governor Cuomo makes it much more likely that New York can ramp up solar and onshore and offshore wind, to meet the Empire State’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.  While New York is not a country, it is the third-largest economy in the United States, and our leadership matters. In the state of the state, the Governor reiterated that he is embracing this leadership. 

Although there was no mention of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), we are hoping funds from this initiative will no be raided, as we saw last year. By investing RGGI funds in smart programs, our states have cut power plant pollution while reducing electricity prices, saving people and businesses more than $1.8 billion on energy bills through efficiency programs, boosting the economy by more than $2 billion, and creating more than 23,000 jobs.  Those benefits will only grow over time, providing a roughly $8 billion boost to the region from 2013 to 2020.

“RGGI has yielded more than $700 million worth of investment in clean energy through 2014, and is projected to $2 billion in additional resources for energy saving and clean energy measures through 2020, creating more than 18,000 jobs.   Likewise, RGGI is be a key element to realize Governor Cuomo’s  ambitious pledge to reduce emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“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. Today, the Governor’s shows the many right choices are being made to help prevent damage to our climate and protect our children’s future.”