Environmental organizations in New York are making a last-minute push for the passage of a measure meant to expedite off-shore wind development in the state amid local-level opposition in Nassau County.
Advocates argue the measure is crucial for off-shore wind to move forward as part of a broader effort to create renewable and cleaner forms of energy in the coming years. But residents in Long Beach have signaled their concerns over the development of two wind projects off the coast of Long Island and a cable that would used to run through the community.
The measure was previously approved in the state Senate earlier this month. The state Assembly will convene on Tuesday and Wednesday to take up unfinished measures.
Developer Equinor and partner BP are planning the construction of the Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2 projects off Long Beach in the coming years. The bill under consideration would allow Long Beach to discontinue land for the construction and maintaining of a "subterranean conduit and electrical distribution cable system" for offshore wind, according to the bill.
But more is at stake than a project near Long Beach. A coalition of environmental organizations in a letter to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wrote the failure to pass the bill could have a cascading impact on other offshore wind efforts.
"Without passage of this bill this session, the Empire Wind 2 project will not stay on its timeline, jeopardizing not only this critical initiative but also creating a domino effect delaying and potentially derailing other crucial projects currently in the pipeline: the Empire Wind 1 project, the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and the Beacon Wind 1 project," the groups wrote in the letter.
Signing onto the letter: Natural Resources Defense Council, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, New York League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. But support for the project is broad, with backing from business entities like the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Long Island Association.
As required by New York's climate change law, the state must meet key benchmarks for the generation of renewable energy. The Empire projects, along with the additional projects trying to get underway, are expected to make up a significant amount of the renewable energy goals by the end of the decade.
At the same time, supporters of the project point to a statewide impact, including union jobs that are being promised as well as the build out of the Port of Albany as a key waystation for offshore wind construction.
“This is the most important bill no one’s talking about," said a person familiar with the effort to get the bill approved. "Without it, New York’s entire offshore wind industry will go up in flames, setting us back years and taking thousands of good-paying union jobs and $3B of economic benefits with it."
Newsday reported this month residents' opposition to the wind projects, so much so that a previous version of it was initially shelved, according to Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick.
“It is unprecedented that this has happened according to what I’ve been told. I have spoken to public officials and they were unaware that my bill was hijacked,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said earlier this month during a floor debate over the measure.