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New York Approves Clean Energy Standard Mandating 50% of Power From Renewables by 2030

Climate

The Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to approve New York's Clean Energy Standard Monday, making an enforceable commitment to Gov. Cuomo's goal of sourcing 50 percent of the state's power from renewable energy by 2030.

The Public Service Commission voted to approve New York's Clean Energy Standard today, making an enforceable commitment to Gov. Cuomo's goal of sourcing 50 percent of the state's power from renewable energy by 2030.Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of the Governor

"The Clean Energy Standard is a monumental step forward in ensuring the governor achieves his ambitious 50 percent by 2030 renewable energy goal," Lisa Dix, senior New York representative for the Sierra Club, said.

"Governor Cuomo has shown his commitment to climate leadership by moving New York and the nation, towards a renewable energy future, while at the same time creating thousands of jobs across the state, protecting ratepayers from volatile fossil fuel prices and improving New Yorkers' public health and environment."

Today's decision comes after more than a six-month process that began in December when Gov. Cuomo instructed the PSC to ensure that New York powers 50 percent of the electric sector with renewable energy by 2030. After the PSC's initial proposal in early 2016, more than 11,000 New Yorkers submitted comments and hundreds came out to the public hearings hosted across the state supporting the governor's proposal for an enforceable renewable energy target.

In addition to the Clean Energy Standard order, New York is also moving forward on developing the state's offshore wind portfolio. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is expected to release an offshore wind blueprint to lay out a long-term statewide plan for developing this invaluable resource. Recently, NYSERDA announced its intent to bid into a federal leasing process for New York's Wind Energy Area and the Long Island Power Authority announced its support for building New York's first offshore wind farm and the largest offshore wind project in the country, 30 miles off the coast of eastern Long Island.

Making a long-term commitment to a pipeline of offshore wind projects will be crucial to achieving the governor's 50 percent by 2030 goal while also establishing New York as the regional offshore wind hub—supercharging the state's economy by bringing high-paying, local jobs and manufacturing opportunities to local communities.

"With today's order and recent actions on Governor Cuomo, Governor Cuomo is clearly setting New York as a climate and renewable jobs leader," David Alicea, organizing representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said.

"We look forward to working with his administration as they develop these policies and a long-term large-scale offshore wind plan to build a robust renewable energy economy for the state."

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One of the initial reasons social distancing guidelines were put in place was to allow the healthcare system to adapt to a surge in patients since there was a critical shortage of beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. In fact, masks that were designed for single-use were reused for an entire week in some hospitals.

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Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders greet each other with a safe elbow bump before the start of the Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Unity Task Forces formed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled sweeping party platform recommendations Wednesday that—while falling short of progressive ambitions in a number of areas, from climate to healthcare—were applauded as important steps toward a bold and just policy agenda that matches the severity of the moment.

"We've moved the needle a lot, especially on environmental justice and upping Biden's ambition," said Sunrise Movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash, a member of the Biden-Sanders Climate Task Force. "But there's still more work to do to push Democrats to act at the scale of the climate crisis."

The climate panel—co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State John Kerry—recommended that the Democratic Party commit to "eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035," massively expanding investments in clean energy sources, and "achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030."

In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."

"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."

 

The 110 pages of policy recommendations from the six eight-person Unity Task Forces on education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and healthcare are aimed at shaping negotiations over the 2020 Democratic platform at the party's convention next month.

Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.

Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.

"It has always been a crisis that tens of millions of Americans have no or inadequate health insurance—but in a pandemic, it's potentially catastrophic for public health," the task force wrote.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."

 

Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."

Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."

"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."

"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

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