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Another Voice: Climate leadership act is a step forward for N.Y. State

By Robert Ciesielski

Our thanks go out to the New York State Senate and Assembly, which passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act last month.

The votes of 41-21 in the Senate and 111-35 in the Assembly demonstrate the importance of this act in addressing climate change, reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, and creating strong economic and job growth throughout the state. We encourage Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to sign the bill into law.

The dangers of climate change and global warming are becoming more immediate in the Midwest and upstate New York, where increased rainfall delayed the planting of crops this year and acted as the primary cause of the rise of local lake levels. Throughout the Great Lakes, warming air now holds 5% more moisture than previously, increasing both humidity and precipitation. In order to help protect us and future generations, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) by 85% by 2050.

To help achieve this, the act would codify into law a goal of producing 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro by 2030. Its targets of 9 gigawatts of offshore wind in the Atlantic (enough to power 5 million homes), 6 gigawatts of solar power, large increases in storage of electricity, and reductions in energy emissions will mean many new jobs and employment opportunities.

The act also calls for a review of reducing emissions in other energy sectors, including transportation and heating and cooling. Autos, buses, tractors and trains can all be manufactured to run on electricity. Home heating and cooling can be accomplished by new heat exchangers and geothermal systems.

Americans have always prided themselves on technological innovation. The economic potential of clean energy as a driver of new jobs and investments is limitless. Fossil fuel-based energy corporations in New York are invited to envision a win-win situation by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Solar and wind power are already the least expensive sources of electricity in many parts of the U.S. and the world. American energy corporations are able to look at the Norwegian oil company Entergy and the German coal giant E.ON, which are successfully switching their business models to wind and solar power production.

The governor’s signing of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would help foster these wonderful opportunities to promote jobs and economic growth and to protect the Earth, our citizens and future generations.

Robert Ciesielski, of Buffalo, is energy committee chairman for the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter.

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