Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to divest the state's $200 billion pension fund from fossil fuel companies -- a provision he plans to push in his State of the State address next month.
"The goal is to divest from fossil fuels. That is the energy of yesterday," he said. "It is literally polluting the planet. It is endangering our health and safety."
But that is easier said than done. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is the elected official who controls the pension fund, and in a statement, said he supports discussing efforts to invest in green technology, but said there are no plans to divest from traditional energy companies just yet.
"We all say we have to move to the new energy sources -- renewable. Well, you have to put your money where your mouth is, and that's what this proposal is about," Cuomo said.
Environmental organizations largely applauded Cuomo's support for divesting, and say they want to see the state move quickly.
"We would like to see the comptroller, who has sole power -- the governor has no power -- over the pension plan, to immediately halt the investment of fossil fuels," said Mark Dunlea of the Hunger Action Network.
Studies by environmental groups have shown that investing in cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar power can actually boost the state pension fund, which provides retirement benefits to state and local workers.
"The state pension plan would add about an additional $5 billion, compared to what they presently have invested. So we think it makes a lot of financial sense," Dunlea said.
And divesting now, as electric vehicles are getting closer to being the same price or cheaper than traditional fuel-burning cars, may be a wise move.
"Right now, investment in fossil fuels is a very risky investment," Dunlea said, "and the sooner you move away, the better."
If approved, New York would be the first state to divest from fossil fuel companies.