On the Heels of COP 21, Historic Progress on Renewable Energy and the Anniversary of New York Ban on Fracking, New Yorkers Praise Governor Cuomo for being a Climate Leader

Following the achievements at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris that wrapped up last week, New Yorkers are taking a moment to celebrate their own accomplishments as climate leaders, thanks, in large part, to the efforts of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement by Governor Cuomo, the New York State Department of Health, and the Department of Environmental Conservation that New York would ban high-volume fracking due to its serious public health and environmental risks.

One year from that historic announcement, the rationale behind New York's ban is clearer now than ever. More than 100 new peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published in the past year that continue to reveal more risks and adverse impacts of fracking. In addition to the public health effects, studies further show what scientists and experts have been warning with tremendous urgency: We must keep most known fossil fuel reserves in the ground to avert catastrophic climate change.

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making impressive strides in scaling up energy efficiency and renewable energy. Most recently, Governor Cuomo has directed the state's Public Service Commission to establish a renewable energy mandate requiring that 50 percent of our electricity come from renewable energy sources. The governor has also established the cutting-edge Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative to reform the way utilities are regulated and to provide incentives for energy efficiency and on-site renewables. The state is moving forward with the NY-Sun program to promote solar power, the Shared Renewables Program to ensure that all New Yorkers can benefit from solar power, whether they have good rooftop access or not, the New York Green Bank, and an aggressive electric vehicles program through Charge NY. Governor Cuomo also recently signed the international Under 2 MOU pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 80 to 95 percent by 2050.

New Yorkers should be proud of the leadership role our state is taking on energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change. Governor Cuomo summed it up very well in the statement he made about COP 21:

"New Yorkers stand ready to do their part. We are committed to requiring that 50 percent of the power used in our state is from renewable resources by 2030. We are also demonstrating through our work with the [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] consortium that collaboration between governments can have a real impact in reducing harmful carbon emissions." (RGGI is a nine-state program that cuts carbon pollution from power plants while it creates new jobs and saves consumers money on energy.)

We have a lot of work ahead of us. The governor can build on his already impressive leadership by pushing for a strong RGGI program that makes bigger emissions cuts faster than the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan requires. And the governor can further cement New York's progress by following through on the ambitious but entirely achievable State Energy Plan. The 50 x '30 clean energy goal now before the Public Service Commission is central to that. We also need comparable certainty to scale up energy efficiency in New York's buildings by 23 percent by 2030, as the State Energy Plan puts forth.

Thanks in large part to the governor's leadership, we're on track to build a better future with clean energy jobs, healthy communities, and prosperity among all communities. What a year it's been!