NY Anti-Wind Bill Could Hurt Clean Energy Economy

The New York State Assembly should reject Assembly Bill A.9053A, which would unfairly prohibit state funding for wind power facilities in six large areas near the Fort Drum military reservation in Jefferson County, New York. This bill is completely unnecessary to protecting national security and guaranteeing the continued vitality of the Fort Drum military base. If passed, A.9053A would hinder progress on clean energy goals, and kill clean energy jobs, without providing any benefits. A group of veterans have written a letter urging the Assembly to reject the bill (which is currently in Assembly Committee).

The bill is completely unnecessary

The asserted purpose of A. 9053A is to prevent wind projects from conflicting with military operations at Fort Drum. But there are already robust federal and state procedures to ensure that wind projects are appropriately sited to align with the secure operation and mission readiness at military bases like Fort Drum. The Department of Defense (DoD), through its Siting Clearinghouse, rigorously evaluates the risks of projects. By law, the Department of Defense has the authority to determine whether a project poses a risk to national security, either in isolation or cumulatively with other projects. So far, no wind projects have been built over the objection of the DoD. As the Department of Defense stated to  Congress in 2015, “generic standoff distance are not useful” and “due to the wide variety of missions and variability of impacts on different types of obstructions, it is not possible to apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ standoff distance between DOD military readiness activities and development projects.”

Wind turbines in New York State

Photo Courtesy of NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

NRDC has worked with the DoD to develop the Renewable Energy And Defense Geospatial Database to help developers identify potential conflicts early in the project development process. This is yet another tool that ensures that projects are carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis to safeguard national security. At the state level, the Article 10 siting law provides additional processes for evaluating the impacts of renewable energy projects.

The bill impedes achieving clean energy goals

Especially as the Trump administration continues to try to roll back environmental protections, it is more important than ever that New York State continue to show leadership through its climate policy. This bill could make it difficult to reach targets such as generating 50 percent of electric generation from renewable sources and reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Fostering land-based wind development is a critical component of installing enough renewable energy at the pace needed to realize Governor Cuomo’s clean energy vision. Beyond halting projects near Fort Drum, this bill sends a bad message, and bolsters opponents of renewable energy projects which will negatively impact investment in wind energy in other areas of New York going forward.

The bill could kill clean energy jobs

Fort Drum is an important economic driver of New York’s North country and is home to the United States Army 10th Mountain Division. By prohibiting state funding to projects near Fort Drum, the bill could stifle economic growth in the area and prevent hundreds of clean energy jobs from being created. The wind industry is rapidly expanding and provides employment opportunities for many groups including veterans. Nationally, the Department of Energy estimated that veterans make up 11.5 percent of wind industry jobs.

According to the wind industry, this bill could result in the loss of 1,080 temporary jobs and 49 permanent jobs associated with wind development. This would also be detrimental to the economy by preventing $29 million in local spending and $238 million in project payments over 30 years.

By rejecting this bill, New York State can reaffirm its commitment to leading the way to a clean energy future that protects our national security, grows the clean energy economy, and fights climate change.

About the Authors

Jackson Morris

Director, Eastern Region, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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