Gov. Andrew Cuomo deserves credit for his handling (so far) of the coronavirus pandemic. But not so for his push to eliminate residents’ ability to decide for themselves if they want industrial-scale wind and solar projects in their towns. Upstate communities that don’t want such projects blighting their communities have a legal right to veto them. But Cuomo intends to bulldoze through those rights in the name of a climate-change “emergency.”
This clash has been a long time coming. Since 2014, the governor has waged war against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the technology that has unleashed an energy renaissance of jobs and cheap natural gas. Last year, Cuomo pushed even further with his green agenda. Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, passed and signed last year, the state must obtain 70 percent of its electricity from green sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040. And by 2050, the state must achieve “net-zero” emissions for everything — electricity, motor vehicles, industry, you name it.
Those are daunting benchmarks. Replacing all of the non-electric fossil-fuel use with wind and solar power will be a Herculean task, not only in terms of the rate at which those renewable resources will have to be developed, but also the amount of land it will require. Hence, this battle with localities.
Jonathan A. Lesser, PhD, is the president of Continental Economics, an economic consulting firm, and an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute. His most recent report, “Is There a Future for Nuclear Power in the United States?” was published in July 2019.
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