“Climate change is the issue of our lifetime, frankly.” – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted August 7th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
There once was a time when that I well remember as an environment reporter in this region that people in Ontario pointed accusing fingers across to the Niagara River to polluters on the New York side, and to government bodies in New York State that didn’t seem to be doing enough to keep those polluters from poisoning the water, fish and air that people on both sides of the border drank, ate and breathed.
With the possible exception of a few major discharges of waste from the Niagara Falls, New York wastewater treatment plant in recent years, pointing accusing fingers at our New York neighbours for environmental malfeasance carries very little weight any more.
In fact, the fingers should be pointed the other way although Americans I have corresponded with have been reluctant to do so for reasons that, from what they have said, have something to do with not wanting to say negative things about neighbours that they view as nice and as a population of people who want to keep our province ‘clean and beautiful’.
Remember that? Ontario, “Keep It Beautiful.”
It used to be a slogan on our license plates until it changed to “Yours To Discover,” and now under current Premier, Doug Ford, losing his bid to stamp new plates with his favourite slogan, “Open For Business,” agreed to settle for the little less plunderous-sounding “A Place To Grow”.
“Open For Business” – a slogan that is not new, but has been used off and on for decades by mostly right-wing governments as a premise for slashing corporate taxes, for gutting environmental, labour and any other regulations, and for keeping minimum wages down that their already well-to-do friends claim threaten their standing as members of the upper five to 10 per cent – – remains a mantra for the Ontario Ford government though.
And everyone across Ontario who cares to pay attention, has certainly witnessed what “Open For Business” leads to – all of the cuts to public services that mostly middle and lower income rely on to live healthy, productive and quality lives.
In the mix are all the cuts to budgets for the Ontario Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources, the weakening of the province’s green energy legislation, endangered species act and planning rules for protecting green places like wetlands and woodlands, the cuts to flood management programs, tree-planting and on and on.
All while Ford and his government continue to waste tax money on lawyers to fight the federal government’s efforts to place a price (what Ford and his Tory allies demonize as a “carbon tax”) on carbon emissions that are contributing to a climate emergency already causing billions of dollars of damage to properties and whole communities across Ontario.
The Ford Tories seem intent on pandering to a nostalgia that mostly aging baby boomers have for the “good old days” – way back about 50 or 60 years ago – when gas was cheaper and you could spew as much carbon exhaust and other pollutants into the atmosphere without, what they call “the nanny state,” stepping in with some controls.
Then we have states in the United States like California and Washington and, right across the border, New York State that, in spite of what Trump is and isn’t doing to protect the environment, are introducing 21st century programs that are sure to place them among the environmental and economic leaders of the world as the century continues to unfold.
These are the places that are setting themselves up for investments and prosperity and the manufacture and sale of leading edge, green technology, not the middle of the last century backwater, with its one buck beer, that Ford and his supporters are turning Ontario in to.
This past July 31st, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an investment of more than $1 billion to upgrade a large hydro power plant along the Niagara River. It was an announcement that Niagara At Large posted here, along with an outline of New York State’s recently approved Green New Deal, which was buried at the bottom of the state announcment.
We are posting New York State’s outline for that Green New Deal again so that you can weigh this against the backward steps being made by the Ford government in Ontario.
Here it is –
New York State’s Green New Deal
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal is the most aggressive climate change program in the nation and puts the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy, including power generation, transportation, buildings, industry and agriculture.
The Governor’s program also establishes a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any state in the nation.
The recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates several of the Governor’s ambitious Green New Deal clean energy targets: installing nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035; six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030.
The CLCPA also calls for an orderly and just transition to clean energy, creating jobs while spurring a green economy. It builds on New York’s unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector and 1,700% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012.
The CLCPA also directs New York State’s agencies and authorities to work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% from 1990 levels by 2050, and to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.
To read a complete copy of the legislation behind New York State’s Green New Deal, click on – https://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2019/S6599 .
Read a recent story on New York State’s ambitious plan in Scientific American magazine by clicking on – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-york-has-a-climate-plan-now-it-has-to-follow-through/
A story on the new plan from The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/19/new-york-climate-crisis-emergency-plan-progressive .
A Canadian investment corporation jumps in to solar market, click on – https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/canadian-investment-manager-jumps-into-u-s-community-solar-market-with-nau .
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