Monday, June 15, 2015

Environmental Leaders Call for Bold Action and Accountability in NYS Energy Plan

Monday, June 15, 2015
Environmental Leaders Call for Bold Action and Accountability in New York State's Energy Plan
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Citizens' Environmental Coalition, Green Education and Legal Fund, Sane Energy Project, Sustainable Otsego, Capital District, and others
Location:        NYSERDA, 17 Columbia Circle, Albany, NY
Contact:         Barbara Warren 845-648-8802
                        Keith Schue 407-470-9433
Albany— Today the New York State Energy Planning Board will hold its first meeting in over a year to discuss the state's much-awaited Energy Plan. Required by statute, the New York State Energy Plan lays the foundation for policies and programs, investments in energy infrastructure, and permitting decisions that affect how New York will meet its energy needs in the future. Last year, a draft of the plan was widely criticized by the public for its vague goals, lack of renewable targets, promotion of natural gas, and failure to tackle climate change. A final document is expected shortly, so concerned citizens and organizations are attending today's meeting to make sure state agencies know we are watching. 

The revised NYS Energy Plan will require careful review when it becomes available. Once that happens, we intend to issue a report card detailing how it compares to last year's failed draft. Essential criteria for our review will be on display at today's meeting. (See below.)

Heidi Gogins of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy said, "2015 is a critical year because this is when New York was supposed to achieve a previous target of meeting 30% of its electricity needs with renewables. "We failed to do that. It's time for a real plan with a real strategy for moving us away from fossil fuels."
Only about 22% of New York's electricity comes from renewables today, most of that being traditional large-scale hydropower. With a strong Energy Plan, New York could meet 50% of its electricity needs with renewables by 2025 and 100% by mid-century.
"Revolutionary advances have occurred in solar power and energy storage in recent years," said Kim Fraczek of Sane Energy Project. "We have the technology. What we need now is leadership."
Yet despite boasting colorful pictures of solar panels and wind farms, the 2014 draft Energy Plan predicted virtually no growth in renewables through 2030 and proposed burning even more fossil fuels in the future--specifically natural gas produced from fracking.
"That's a fundamental problem which must be fixed," said Keith Schue with Sustainable Otsego. "Let's hope that in the wake of Governor Cuomo's promise to ban high volume fracking in New York, the planning board will see the moral conflict in welcoming more gas from other states where people are suffering the ill-effects of fracking."

Furthermore, despite the anticipated ban of fracking, New York has experienced an explosion of gas-related infrastructure proposals since release of the draft plan last year, including power plants, pipelines, compressor stations, and gas storage facilities.
"We are under siege," said Pramilla Malick of Minisink, NY who fought a compressor station that has made children in her community sick and is now waging a battle against a related power plant. "New York needs an Energy Plan that rejects the fiction of 'clean' natural gas."
Other major projects under review by state agencies include the Constitution Pipeline, Northeast Energy Direct (NED) Pipeline, Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project, Dominion New Market project, and a Crestwood Energy proposal to store liquefied petroleum gas and methane at Seneca Lake.

"It's time to put the brakes on any more fossil fuel infrastructure," said Susan Rubin of Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE). If built, these projects will be with us for decades, polluting our air and water, harming our communities, and threatening our climate."
Regarding climate change, the 2014 draft failed to explain how it would meet the state's goal of achieving an 80% reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, instead proposing an interim target that ignores methane. The main ingredient of natural gas, methane is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change over twenty years.
"Show us the math. It's impossible for climate goals to be met if New York's energy portfolio is dominated for decades by gas," said Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund. "Damage from climate change could cost New Yorkers ten billion dollars a year. Immediate action is needed to reduce ALL greenhouse gas emissions."
The Energy Plan should also explain how it intends to deal with New York's aging fleet of nuclear reactors. The 2014 draft supported closure of just one nuclear facility, Indian Point, and proposed additional gas-fired power generation to replace lost capacity.
"That's a zero sum game," said Barbara Warren, with Citizens' Environmental Coalition. "With bold investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we can have a truly clean, Carbon Free / Nuclear Free future."

Never has there been so much at stake for the future of energy planning in New York than at this moment. It is imperative that we make the most of this opportunity by charting a bold course for a sustainable energy future.
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Does the plan commit to a sustainable energy future with robust targets for renewables (50% by 2025, 100% by 2050) and energy efficiency, measurable benchmarks, and a strategy for rapid implementation? 

Does the plan protect successful programs and create bold new ones with investment levels needed to achieve targets of the plan? 


Does the plan discourage the use of fossil fuels, and curtail new energy infrastructure like power plants, pipelines and gas storage facilities that perpetuate reliance on fossil fuels? 


Does the plan include a credible strategy for meeting total greenhouse gas reduction goals (80% by 2050) with measurable benchmarks for all emissions, including methane? 


Does the plan provide for the responsible decommissioning of aging nuclear reactors without increasing New York's dependency on fossil fuels? 


Is the plan transparent and understandable, defining terms like "clean" energy and ensuring that money from its "Clean Energy Fund" will not subsidize fossil fuels or nuclear power?


Does the plan offer the opportunity for all New Yorkers to participate in a sustainable energy future and provide equal protection to all communities?

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be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

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