A sweeping climate change fighting measure was approved Thursday by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who called the legislation one of the most important in the eight years he's been in office.
Seated next to former Vice President Al Gore, Governor Cuomo on Thursday approved a climate change bill that seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 85 percent in the next 30 years and shifts the state to 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and a 100 percent carbon neutral system by 2040. The measure also creates a climate action council.
"The environment and the climate change are the most critically important policy priorities we face. They will literally determine the future or the lack thereof," Cuomo said.
At the same time, Cuomo touted the development of off-shore wind projects he says will generate billions of dollars in economic activity and create thousands of union jobs — an essential balance, he said, in environmental protection.
"That is the art form — to develop a sustainable, achievable, environmental agenda that does not disrupt our economy, but rather grows and enhances our economy," the governor said.
Cuomo was joined by Gore, the former vice president who out of office has made fighting climate change a signature issue.
"I started to say we're gaining on the crisis. But if we keep gaining momentum, we will be gaining on the crisis," Gore said.
But the business community has concerns with the legislation. Darren Suarez of the Business Council says there's no price tag yet on the off-shore wind projects.
"That comes at a cost to somebody, and consumers ultimately will pay it," Suarez said.
And he says enacting the law will, decades from now, mean major changes for the state's energy needs.
"At this time, there is no technology to get us where we need to be in 2050," Suarez said. "There will have to be significant investment in [research and development], significant investment in infrastructure."
And how that law is enacted will be spelled out when the climate change council meets later this year.