Washington — New York state appeared to be turning a deeper shade of blue as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's easy victory combined with an expected flip of the state Senate to Democratic control. The combination could boost pressure for renewables and energy efficiency goals and potentially make a tough climate for natural gas infrastructure more challenging.
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Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a statement late Tuesday said voters of New York state "have elected a clear Democratic majority to the State Senate." While some election results were not yet in, she said "at least 32 Senate Democratic Conference members have already won election tonight" and that she was confident the majority would grow larger after all results were counted.
Backers of legislation mandating an economy-wide shift to renewable energy in New York have been predicting the bill could get new life in a Democrat-controlled Senate. The measure sets a target of achieving 50% renewables from the power sector by 2030, and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from human-caused sources by 2050. State agencies would apply a climate test to permitting decisions.
The bill previously passed the state Assembly three times but has idled in the Republican-controlled Senate, where a group of independent Democrats have caucused with Republicans.
Renewable energy proponents are keen on getting a floor vote for the bill the next session, potentially putting more pressure on Cuomo to come on board. In question is whether Cuomo will seek to match California's clean energy targets as he toys with a potential presidential run.
Balancing that pressure, industry advocates suggest Cuomo will need natural gas-fired generation to meet the state's already ambitious renewable energy goals.
Cuomo took steps to the left on energy policy this election season. On Earth Day 2018, he rolled out energy efficiency targets to reduce energy consumption equivalent to 1.8 million New York households by 2025.
Reflecting the pressures on Cuomo in the state, a coalition of environmental organizations, clean energy advocates and others earlier this week wrote to urge the governor to take further steps to follow through on his pledge to accelerate energy efficiency gains.
During the primary season, state regulators in April turned aside the initial water quality certification application for a proposed Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line natural gas project to serve New York City and Long Island known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project. That was the third April in a row in which the state rejected natural gas projects.
Transco has resubmitted its application for NESE, which will be a key project to watch in the state. Some environmental advocates are pushing for its demise.
Transco has resubmitted its application for NESE, which will be a key project to watch in the state. Some environmental advocates are pushing for its demise. -- Maya Weber, firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Edited by Christopher Newkumet, email@example.com