New York asks for exclusion from offshore drilling plans

New York state has joined a number of U.S. coastal states in a request for exemption from the proposed offshore drilling plans. 

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by Vice President Al Gore, on Friday announced that New York had formally requested an exclusion from the Department of Interior’s new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

“Instead of protecting our waters from another oil spill, like the one that devastated the Gulf, this new federal plan only increases the chances of another disaster taking place,” Governor Cuomo said.

“We believe the future is a clean energy economy and New York is going to lead a counter-movement to what this administration is doing to the environment and illuminate the path forward,” Cuomo added.

Vice President Al Gore said: “Governor Cuomo is demonstrating outstanding leadership in helping to solve the climate crisis and building a sustainable future.”

“His vision and leadership stand in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s malignant mission to make us even more dependent on the dirty and destructive fossil fuels. Now more than ever, it’s up to all of us to step up and act on this urgent cause of our time. Governor Cuomo is showing how it can be done.”

To remind, in January 2018, the federal government unveiled the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas program, which proposes to make over 90 percent of the total offshore acreage in the United States available to oil and gas drilling. This plan would open two areas of the North Atlantic coast adjacent to New York State for fossil fuel exploration.

Following a request by Florida Governor Rick Scott, an exclusion from offshore drilling program was granted to Florida shortly after its launch on the grounds that the state relies heavily on tourism as one of the nation’s top ocean economies. However, the validity of Florida’s exclusion was later questioned by the U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida and a long-time offshore drilling opponent.

On the other hand, Florida Petroleum Council in February said the inclusion of Florida in Secretary Zinke’s offshore plan was critical to enabling Floridians “to reap the long-term benefits of affordable and reliable U.S.-produced energy and specifically secure Florida’s long-term economic future with new tax revenue, new jobs and new industries to support energy development.”

According to Cuomo, as the number three ocean economy in the nation, New York stands to lose nearly 320,000 jobs and billions of dollars generated through tourism and fishing industries should the exclusion not be granted.

The Port of NYNJ is the largest on the Atlantic seaboard and a major spill that disrupted operations would be devastating to the national economy, he said.

He also emphasized that New York State strongly opposes the Department of the Interior’s National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program as it poses an unacceptable threat to New York’s ocean resources and the state’s economy.


Investing in renewables


The Governor on Friday also announced the single largest commitment to renewable energy by a state in U.S. history at $1.4 billion, which will advance 26 large-scale renewable energy projects across New York.

He claims that offshore drilling endangers New York’s progressive efforts to move toward cleaner, smarter energy solutions, including the nation-leading $1.4 billion investment dedicated to renewable energy projects. The awarded projects include 22 solar farms. The projects are expected to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 430,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons, the equivalent to taking nearly 340,000 cars off the road.

New York Secretary of State, Rossana Rosado, said, “Governor Cuomo’s forward-thinking leadership charts a course for a sustainable and responsible future, free from the real threats offshore gas and oil drilling poses to our coastal communities.”

DEC Commissioner, Basil Seggos, said, “Oil and gas exploration, drilling, and potential spills are incompatible with New York’s multi-billion dollar coastal economy. Rather than endangering the environmental and economic health of our coasts, New York is carefully and responsibly expanding renewable energy to support the state’s comprehensive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.”