NY joins multi-state green coalition

solar farm

New York state has joined 16 other states in a coalition for clean energy economies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday. The bipartisan coalition is an effort to develop and implement clean energy policies and expand clean energy sources.

A total of 17 state governors have joined the accord, pledging to diversify energy generation, expand clean energy sources, modernize their energy infrastructure, and encourage green transportation in their states. The other states include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Cuomo’s announcement of joining the coalition comes just after the announcement of a $5 billion Clean Energy Fund in New York to implement clean energy standards over the next 10 years. One of those standards mandates that 50 percent of electricity in New York must come from renewable sources by 2030. Additionally, the state will be coal free by 2020.

The governor hopes to make strides toward a clean-energy economy, as proposed in his 2016 State of the State Address, by streamlining education with green energy technology.

“We have already attracted some of the largest solar manufacturers on the planet to New York state,” Cuomo said. “I now propose a $15 million Clean Energy Opportunity Training Program so SUNY and our community colleges can train the workers with solar technology and installation.”

Cuomo also proposed increasing the Environmental Protection Fund to $300 million, the highest level in state history. These funds are used to expand the New York Forest Preserve, creating public parks, and restoring historic sites, among other purposes.

New York joins the accord just a week after the Clean Power Plan — the centerpiece of U.S. strategy to tackle global warming — was temporarily blocked in the Supreme Court.

The governor’s clean energy initiatives are getting mixed reactions from environmentalists.

“While the court may have temporarily blocked the Clean Power Plan, it can’t block progress toward wind and solar energy, affordable electric vehicles, and a more modern and efficient electric grid,” said Heather Leibowitz, director of Environment New York. “Kudos to these governors for pledging to forge a path forward for climate progress and clean air.”

According to Mark Dunlea, chair of the Green Educational Legal Fund Inc, Cuomo’s proposals are just not enough.

“His goals are weaker in several ways than those adopted seven years ago by Governor Paterson,” Dunlea says. “For adequate process to occur, climate activists can no longer just applaud politicians for announcing modest steps but must demand robust plans that give us a realistic chance to avoid catastrophic climate change.”