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The 1994 movie Dumb and Dumber reminds me of the current race to become the next governor of New York (on the Democratic side at least), except if I made it into a movie it would be called “Crazy and Crazier.” New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a known climate alarmist and dedicated enemy of fossil fuel production. Cuomo banned fracking in New York state, hurting government coffers and shafting property owners in upstate New York. Subsequently, at Cuomo’s behest, the state offered solar companies nearly a billion dollars in subsidies, tax abatements, and other inducements to create a new factory in Buffalo New York. Then, Cuomo had the state’s Public Service Commission enact a new Clean Energy Standard in August 2016 without any legislative vote, requiring at least 50 percent of all the electricity sold in New York by its utilities to come from renewable generation sources by 2030. CES also requires the state’s utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, a mandate known as “80 by 50.”
One might think these policies would cement Cuomo’s environmental credentials on the left, but not so. Cuomo now faces a challenge for the Democratic nomination for governor from actress Cynthia Nixon. Nixon says Cuomo has been soft on companies in the fossil fuel industry, writing on her campaign website, “Eight years ago, I voted for Andrew Cuomo because I believed he was a real Democrat. Our state could be a place where every single New Yorker has what we need to thrive, if only we could stop our governor from selling New York off to the highest bidder.”
Nixon backs up those fighting words with a loony energy plan. In her recently published “Agenda for a Clean Energy Economy and Climate Justice” Nixon one-ups Cuomo’s clean energy plan by committing to run the state entirely on 100 percent renewable energy by no later than 2050. As Nixon says in her new plan, Cuomo’s plan addressed carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector only, whereas “most of the emissions in New York come from buildings and transportation.” Nixon also pledges to halt all new investment in new fossil fuel plants and pipelines, instead providing more support for wind and solar power, and to “make corporate polluters pay for the damage their [sic, OMG] causing to our communities and our planet.”
There is an old saying from baseball, “from out of left field,” meaning something that is unexpectedly odd or strange. On climate issues, if Cuomo were a left fielder, he would already be playing with his back against the wall on the warning track. Nixon’s progressive challenge is from out beyond the bullpen, way out of the field of play. Cuomo’s efforts are hurting the state’s economy and increasing New York’s already high energy prices. Nixon’s plan would make a bad situation worse. I say, let them slug it out. States like my own will benefit if either of them wins, as energy prices continue to rise and businesses, seeking a better business climate, and residents, seeking lower energy prices and more and better jobs, increasingly flee New York.