New York is poised to be the next state to lead the country in renewable energy as Gov. Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to a sweeping climate change bill on Tuesday.
"People that are on the front lines of fossil fuel impacts, on the frontlines of extreme storms, on the frontlines of air pollution — it will clean up their air, keep them safer and move this country into a better future for all of us," said Wes Gillingham, the Associate Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.
New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CCPA, is set to make the state the sixth in the country with a 100 percent clean electricity target.
"New York is one of the largest states in the country, one of the largest economies, together with California and other large economies," said Jeff Freedman, a renewable energy expert at the Atmospheric Science Research Center at UAlbany. "You're talking about a large portion of the United States' economy is now going to be moving aggressively towards what we call this 'green economy.'"
The bill calls for zero emissions from statewide electric by 2040. Activists say this is what they've been working for, for years.
"We've been working on this since 2015," said Gillingham. "When I say, 'we,' I'm talking about a coalition of folks from Buffalo, Central New York, upstate, downstate, in the city, on Long Island. It's bringing together multiple organizations from very different backgrounds to work together... and we were able to go to our elected officials and say, 'It's time.'"
But is it a realistic goal and how do we implement change? Freedman says the technology for solar and wind energy is already there, now it's just implementing it on a bigger scale.
"The quicker we can do this, the less of an impact we'll have regionally and globally," Freedman said. "So, is the timetable ambitious? Yes, it's ambitious. Can we meet it? Of course we can."
Gov. Cuomo's office announced Tuesday a revised version of the bill. You can find the details and bill text here.