N.Y. Gov. Cuomo lays out a plan to fight climate change, increase clean energy
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 9, 2013
This is the clarion call — issued via, um, Twitter image — that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) put forth this afternoon in his State of the State address. (The state of the state, in Cuomo’s one-word summary? “Rising.” So there’s that.)
Remaining the progressive capital of the nation is a bold goal for a politician to elucidate, particularly one who is almost certainly going to run for president in four years. Making New York the progressive capital of the nation will likely not be seen as an asset by voters in Mississippi. Not that it matters.
To this goal, Cuomo has decided to go bold(er) on green energy. Cuomo’s plan has four components:
- $1 billion matching fund to “spur the green economy.” Details on this to come, presumably, though initial comments suggest it will be used in part to encourage adoption of green energy use.
- Extend the state’s NY-Sun solar jobs program. Cuomo aims to add $150 million a year to a program that encourages solar panel installations to spur job growth.
- Build an electric-car charging network.
- Create a new state cabinet-level position on energy. Cuomo has already tapped a top aide to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Richard Kaufmann.
Cuomo also announced a slew of programs aimed at making the state more capable of handling the effects of a major storm like Hurricane Sandy. (After outlining his proposals, Cuomo called for federal action on Sandy aid; we wish him luck.)
“First of all,” Cuomo said to applause, “we have to accept the fact that climate change is real.” To that effect, he proposed strengthening the cap in the Northeast’s cap-and-trade system, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, from 165 million tons of CO2 per year to below 91 million tons (though he didn’t mention a time frame).
Cuomo also suggested increased use of local, renewable power sources and an improved electric grid, managed by personnel trained in expanded workforce training centers. To improve electrical service, Cuomo called for abolishing the Long Island Power Authority (a popular proposal). The governor also suggested the state encourage people to move out of vulnerable areas, and improve building systems for new structures across the state.
A number of proposals targeted New York City in particular: better infrastructure, better subway protection, better fuel delivery. Cuomo noted that the break in fuel delivery to the city during Sandy lasted only a day and a half, but resulted in weeks of disruption. Finally, the governor suggested improved communications systems for emergency operators and tools for empowering citizen volunteers.
In other news close to the hearts of Grist readers — and certainly to the goal of maintaining the progressive capital of the nation — Cuomo suggested that possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana (about half an ounce, if that’s how you measure such things) should be legalized. We welcome our new, dry-mouthed residents. Remember to bring your own soda.
Here’s the press release on Cuomo’s speech; a transcript isn’t yet online. For masochists, here’s the full thing.