Viewpoint: N.Y., Climate Alliance states advance climate actions in face of Trump efforts to prop up coal, oil companies

Karen Rubin

Trump is doing all he can to force renewed demand on fossil fuels and derail the transition to clean renewable energy sources.

In fact, it is The official policy of the Trump White House is to undermine climate scientists and ignore scientific findings about climate change from its own federal agencies.

This not only results in costly destruction to communities and public health, and force dependency on a fuel source that is inevitably more expensive to deliver, but endangers national security, requiring costly military ($700 billion in defense spending!).

How ironic after Republicans spent so much effort deriding Obama for incentivizing the development of fledgling solar, wind and other renewable energy industries, that this administration is putting a fist on the scales to bolster enterprises that would otherwise be obsolete. We’re already paying higher prices at the pump thanks to Trump policies.

A year ago, in reaction to Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, New York and 15 states plus Puerto Rico formed the United States Climate Alliance to stay on track to the Paris goals.

Trump is doing everything possible to undermine even those efforts.

Just last week, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced all coal-fired plants would be closed by 2020, Trump, in an abuse of power, signaled an executive order to mandate purchase of electricity from coal plants that would otherwise be too uneconomical to operate – akin to forcing purchase of whale oil to block Edison’s electric lights.

On top of his climate-denying anti-environment, Big Oil-lackey EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rolling back car standards, Trump’s move to put tariffs on imported automobiles is a way to remove competition from Europe and China that are mandating a shift to electric vehicles.

The European Union, Canada, Mexico and China should retaliate by putting tariffs on all U.S. industries and suppliers that do not adhere to the Paris Climate Accord standards, including US car makers.

At the one-year anniversary of Trump pulling out of the US Climate Alliance, Cuomo announced new U.S. Climate Alliance initiatives to further progress on emissions reductions, reduce short-lived climate pollutants, expand clean energy financing, drive grid modernization and deployment of renewable energy, improve the energy efficiency of appliances, and increase resilience to climate change. Among them:

Alliance states are collaborating on a $1 billion Green Banking Initiative to expand sustainable infrastructure financing opportunities and help advance new Green Banks; working together on a Grid Modernization Initiative to use non-wires alternatives that meet electricity demand while avoiding build-out of traditional electric transmission and distribution infrastructure; collaborating on a Solar Soft Costs Initiative to reduce the costs of solar projects; partnering to build greater resiliency of communities, fundamentally changing the way infrastructure is designed and procured; pursuing opportunities to increase carbon storage in forests, farms, and ecosystems, and launching a new initiative to identify best practices for land conservation, management and restoration; accelerating deployment of zero-emissions vehicles, expanding and improving mass transit and active transportation choices and implement ingt other measures for moving towards zero-emission vehicle miles traveled. (Cuomo just announced a new public-private $250 million electric vehicle expansion initiative, Evolve NY, to build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles).

It is a credit to Cuomo that in the past year alone, New York State has taken some of the largest strides on clean energy and climate in state history, including the Clean Energy Standard requiring 50 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030, which has driven $1.4 billion in investment in 26 large-scale renewable energy projects, committed to develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, enough to power 1.2 million New York households, including procuring 800 megawatts of offshore wind.

Incentives to pursue these initiatives are incorporated into regional economic development. Just last week, at the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, NYSERDA announced a new Net Zero grant program to encourage localities to undertake capital projects where the annual energy used would be less than or equal to the onsite renewable energy produced. Winning projects could receive 70 percent of eligible costs up to $1 million, plus a bonus of up to $1 million if in downtown revitalization area, a safe opportunity zone, DEC designated brownfield, or community-adopted stretch energy code.

You would think that the village of Great Neck with its ambitious dream of downtown revitalization, would apply, but then, the village would need a more cohesive plan than what it offers now. But this is a multi-year program, so maybe next year.

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