New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo has once again demonstrated important clean energy and climate leadership today by vetoing plans for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, called the Port Ambrose project, proposed for the waters off Long Island's South Shore. (The governor's veto is allowed under the federal Deepwater Ports Act, which gives adjacent states veto power over proposed deepwater terminals in federal waters.) The governor's veto clears the way for an offshore wind project proposed for the same ocean site, resolving a very visible and concrete conflict between fossil fuel energy and renewable energy. "This facility is right in the middle of an area that has been proposed for possible renewable energy. That would disrupt that plan," the governor said, citing climate change and other dangers as his motivation for vetoing the LNG terminal. The governor's veto is a victory for our climate--with clean energy winning out over dirty fossil fuels--and a win for our local economy, too.
The Sierra Club's Lisa Dix (right), Andrienne Esposito from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (third from right), and I (second from right) celebrate Governor Cuomo's veto of the Port Ambrose LNG terminal today with other allies and partners in Long Beach.
The governor's veto puts an end to the ill-conceived Port Ambrose project. As I explained earlier, the project would have effectively blocked development of the state's significant offshore wind power resources in this area, called the New York Bight, by occupying the area best suited for offshore turbine siting, thereby making construction and operation of a wind power project there substantially more difficult and expensive. The approval process for offshore wind power in this portion of the Bight has already been moving ahead, with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the process of designating this portion of the Bight as a federal Wind Energy Area, and preparing, after that, to hold an auction for the right to develop offshore wind in this area. There is already at least one offshore wind power project waiting to be developed there: the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Project, which three New York utilities proposed long before plans for the Port Ambrose LNG terminal was submitted for approval. Private developers have also expressed interest in developing offshore wind at this site.
As this map indicates, the proposed Port Ambrose LNG terminal would have conflicted with an offshore wind power project proposed in 2011 and now moving through the siting process.
The LI-NYC project has the potential to power more than 200,000 metropolitan-area homes, pollution-free. A Stony Brook University study found that a 250-megawatt offshore wind power project could create nearly 3,000 local jobs. (The LI-NYC project is slated to start at 350 megawatts and might eventually grow to 700 megawatts.) And offshore wind power can improve the reliability of our region's overstressed electric grid. That's because offshore wind power generates the most electricity when we need it most: on cold winter days and hot summer afternoons.
Offshore wind power is essential to helping New York meet its ambitious climate goals as well as its forward-looking clean energy plans. Thanks to the governor's veto today, and the hard work over two years by a coalition of national, state, and local groups, including NRDC, to oppose the LNG terminal, this proposed offshore wind power project, and others put forward for the area by private developers, won't be blocked by a fossil fuel project that we never needed. Residents of Long Island and the rest of New York know only too well from our experiences of Hurricane Sandy that we need to end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and build a clean energy economy right here in New York, right now. With any luck, in fact, these offshore wind power proposals will be able to move forward soon. Only two weeks ago, BOEM head Abby Hopper stated that moving forward with offshore wind power in New York was BOEM's "No. 1 priority at the moment. All systems go."
As world leaders prepare for the upcoming climate talks in Paris, there's new reason for optimism that we can tackle climate change and move forward on clean energy. At the national level, President Obama's Clean Power Plan is setting historic new carbon pollution standards for power plants. And just last week, President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline. Here in New York, in the lead up to Paris, Governor Cuomo is speaking out on climate and clean energy, establishing ambitious state climate and clean energy goals and revolutionizing the role of utilities with the Reforming Energy Vision process. Today's decision nixing Port Ambrose in favor of offshore wind is a further demonstration of the governor's leadership and his commitment to walking the walk on climate and clean energy.