Hoylman-Colton bill would make NY the first to achieve 100% renewable energy

Legislative Gazette photo by David Tregaskis
Assemblyman William Colton, left, introduced a bill that would require New York state to completely move to renewable energy by 2032 (S.5908/A.5105). Colton believes that New York can and should be the nation’s leader in this change. With technology such as wind and solar energy and electric cars, the goal can be achieved despite potential lack of political will.

Legislators and environmental advocates say New York can be the national leader in the move to 100 percent renewable energy.

Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, and Assemblyman William Colton, D-Brooklyn, are sponsors of a bill (S.5908/A.5105) that would require New York state to rely completely on renewable energy by 2032.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard calls for the move to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, many believe that it isn’t good enough.

“We have an emergency catastrophe on our way and yet we are not realizing that we have to do something today,” Colton said.

Colton brought up the dangerous weather that the United States has recently experienced. He recalled the damage his district experienced after Superstorm Sandy and how Hurricane Maria knocked out all of the electrical power in Puerto Rico.

The legislation would look to stop greenhouse gas emissions, and ban new oil and gas pipelines and power plants. It would also call for all state and local government agencies to create five-year incremental benchmarks to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2023.

Cosponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, says that while it would be an uphill climb, the move to renewable energy should be led by New York. 

“It’s an ambitious challenge that New York can and should meet, not only to help preserve our environment but also to position us as a leader in the rapidly expanding field of renewable energy,” Gottfried said.

Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Steve Breyman, has been working on the issue of climate change for more than 30 years.

“There is now 99 percent certainty that climate change is real, it’s now, it’s human made and it’s worsening,” Breyman said.

With new technology and wind and solar energy, the goal can be achieved. Colton mentioned other capabilities such as electric cars and the storing of solar energy. He believes the biggest obstacle will be political will.

“A lot of states and the federal government are led by people who are denying the very existence of climate change; we can’t allow them to lower the bar. It’s not good enough to just acknowledge reality,” said Northeast Region Director at Food and Water Watch Alex Beauchamp. “It’s not good enough to be better than Trump, we have to be much stronger here and take strong action.”