Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York’s aggressive plan to tackle climate change this week during his State of the State address. The plan calls for a mandate that half of the Empire State’s power come from renewable energy within 15 years. But the real backbone of the plan to reduce emissions is, of course, an even greater increase in natural gas use. Since New York has banned fracking, that gas will have to be imported.
Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder perhaps said it best on Twitter:
.@NYGovCuomo in ’14: We’re banning fracking & in ’16: NY will be coal-free by ’20 Meanwhile, natural gas provides most of NY’s electricity
— Amy Harder (@AmyAHarder) January 13, 2016
New York City is following suit. Mayor Bill de Blasio has set a plan in motion that calls for an increase of natural gas usage to meet climate change goals.
So, the state that banned fracking plans to import more natural gas than ever to tackle climate change!
Needless to say anti-fracking activists are not happy. As Mark Dunlea wrote in an opinion piece in City Limits, “Unfortunately, the de Blasio plan envisions a large role for natural gas.” Meanwhile the co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking, Sandra Steingraber, is now turning her attention to fighting the infrastructure needed to support this increasing demand. In her speech at a rally organized around the State of the State address, she proclaimed,
“We seek to replace every burner tip—from power plants to basement furnaces—with energy systems that look up—to the sun and the wind—instead of down at the graveyards of Devonian fossils.
Governor Cuomo, we want you to tell the world that New York is so done with keeping the lights on by building more crematoria for the burning of more prehistoric plants and animals, whose extraction from the ground and transportation to the flame destroys our climate, our water and our health.
An end to fossil fuels is our united goal.”
“New York should not be permitting new methane gas pipelines and must shut down bomb trains’ ability to transport dirty, dangerous fossil fuels through our communities.”
Apparently activists like Steingraber are living under a rock to have missed the clear environmental benefits already occurring in their home state.
Thanks to domestic natural gas development, and associated infrastructure, New York City is currently experiencing its cleanest air in over 50 years. According to former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, the cleaner air is estimated to have prevented as many as 800 deaths and 2,000 hospital visits per year.
New York is also seeing wholesale electricity prices plummet as power plants transition to affordable natural gas. From a recent Bloomberg article:
“New York power is becoming so cheap that it’s threatening to fall below prices in the area surrounding Washington. Electricity at the two hubs is only about $1 apart now, down from almost $23 a megawatt-hour in 2013.” (emphasis added)
Cleaner air and lower bills are great news for New York consumers. It’s just unfortunate that Governor Cuomo has banned the process that would provide that gas and bring so many jobs to an area of the state that needs them the most.