Cuomo’s Nuclear Bailout Spoils His Environmental Record
And yet that appears to be precisely what we're seeing with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a potential 2020 challenger to Trump who until recently had a strong record advocating for the planet.
Most notably, Cuomo as governor banned fracking statewide, which was a huge win for the movement and also recently closed Indian Point nuclear power plant, a move that may have saved the lives of millions of people.
But the goodwill from those arguably heroic acts has evaporated because of another Cuomo directive that's causing problems nationwide, but has barely made headlines outside New York.
Last year, Cuomo quietly ordered New York's Public Service Commission—which regulates energy companies in the state—to slip subsidies into electric bills for all New Yorkers to prop up three aging, unsafe, unprofitable nuclear power plants.
He's not calling it a tax, but it is and one that will bring in an estimated $7.6 billion over the next 12 years for Exelon, the $34 billion Fortune 100 corporation that operates the plants.
As if handing more than $7.6 billion to a nuclear energy company isn't outrageous enough, he did it in the name of his otherwise commendable "Clean Energy Standard," which calls for 50 percent of New York State's energy to be renewable by 2030, and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and other heat-trapping pollutants by 40 percent from 1990 levels.
Unfortunately, the idea to make ratepayers—some of whom have opted into renewable programs for which they're already paying a premium—subsidize nuclear power plants has spread to other states, with proposals now pending in Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Meanwhile, Illinois, where Exelon is located, had repeatedly fought off a similar program. After Cuomo authorized New York's bailout, however, they approved ratepayer-funded nuclear subsidies in late 2016 to keep two plants there open.
All total, consumers can be on the hook for $3.9 billion in higher bills as a result of these subsidies, according to a Bloomberg analysis.
Cuomo's decision, and the resulting ramifications nationwide, is a hard blow and environmentalists won't soon forget it—especially if, as early signs seem to indicate, he runs for the White House in 2020.
After four years of Trump, what this country will need is a president who is both consistent and creative when it comes to the environment. We've seen neither of those qualities from Cuomo.
Cuomo has an environmental record with some serious achievements, but if he's looking to be the next president, he needs to take such bold action again, not support corporate welfare.
There is still time for Cuomo to make this right. Just as he directed New York's Public Service Commission to include the surcharge tax in the Clean Energy Standard, he can direct them to remove it and build a better, more ambitious plan that relies on energy efficiency and renewables and moves away from nuclear power.
The people and the planet deserve nothing less.
In less than one week, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke will submit his final recommendations to President Trump on whether 27 national monuments around the country should be downsized, eliminated, transferred to state control or left alone.
But as Aaron Weiss, the media director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, pointed out: "Rather than spending his final week hearing from local communities who have worked tirelessly to protect their natural and cultural heritage as national monuments, Secretary Zinke is on vacation in the Mediterranean. His wife, Lola Zinke, tweeted a picture early this morning of herself and Secretary Zinke enjoying a sunrise on the Bosphorus Strait."
Energy Transfer Partners' controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis.
The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, has been stalled from numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.
'A Major Win for New Yorkers': Court of Appeals Upholds State's Denial of Water Quality Certification for Constitution Pipeline
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld New York State's denial of a water quality certification for the Constitution Pipeline Friday, a critical win for the Attorney General's office and the state's authority to take necessary action to protect its waters and natural resources. The appeals court noted that the state is entitled to "conduct its own review of the Constitution Project's likely effects on New York waterbodies and whether those effects would comply with the state's water quality standards."
New York must be able to do what's necessary to protect our environment—and we're glad that the court agreed.
By Anne Bolen
On Aug. 21, for the first time since 1918, a total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. from coast to coast. Along the path of totality, the moon will completely block out the sun, turning day to twilight for nearly three minutes. While a partial eclipse will be visible throughout the U.S., millions will be flocking to spots along the path of totality, which begins in Salem on Oregon's coast about 10:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and exits the nation at Charleston, South Carolina, where maximum coverage will occur about 2:47 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Perhaps no other natural event will inspire so many people to go outdoors.
The Trump administration released an environmental review Thursday of Hilcorp Alaska's Arctic offshore drilling development. Hilcorp plans to build a 9-acre artificial island and 5.6-mile pipeline in the Beaufort Sea for its offshore drilling project. The Trump administration's draft environmental impact statement proposes to greenlight the dangerous drilling plan, which would be a first for federal waters in the Arctic.
The incident was detailed in several Facebook posts from Equinac, a Spanish marine wildlife conservation group.
The National Park Service (NPS) announced Wednesday that it has rescinded the 2011 "Water Bottle Ban" that allowed parks to prohibit the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. That same day, news emerged that the Trump administration removed a nine-slot Capital Bikeshare station at the White House that was requested and installed during the Obama years and used by staffers.
By Catherine Collentine
This week, a federal court ruled that the Obama administration over-penalized Exxon for dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of a pollutant onto the streets of Mayflower and threw out a number of safety violations levied against Exxon on the basis that the company met its legal obligations to consider the risks associated with the pipeline.