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On Earth Day, Some Say NY Needs to Do More

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for the development of 2.4 GW of offshore wind power by 2030. (Hans Hillewaert/Wikimedia Commons)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for the development of 2.4 GW of offshore wind power by 2030. (Hans Hillewaert/Wikimedia Commons)
April 21, 2017

NEW YORK – Tomorrow is Earth Day and, though efforts to fight climate change are under attack in the nation's capital, here in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is getting high marks for his clean-energy initiatives.

However, some in the environmental community say he needs to do more. They give Cuomo credit for encouraging the development of offshore wind energy, banning fracking and stopping some major pipeline projects.

But according to Mark Dunlea, chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund, to meet the goals of the Paris conference on climate change, every state should be reducing its carbon emissions by 7 to 9 percent a year. Dunlea says New York is falling short of that goal.

"We think he's still way too reliant upon fossil fuels, way too reliant upon nuclear power, and really isn't doing enough to promote renewable energy," he said.

Cuomo has committed the state to getting 50 percent of its electric power from renewable sources by 2030, but Dunlea points to studies showing that 100 percent would be achievable in the same time frame.

And he says every effort to slow climate change is now critical. Dunlea notes that some scientists now estimate the world is within one to four years of reaching a tipping point for global warming, the maximum amount of carbon that can be put into the atmosphere.

"There are studies now saying that countries within a couple of thousand miles of the equator will begin to experience catastrophic climate change by 2020," he added. "That's in three years."

New York State now estimates that sea levels may rise six feet by the end of this century, and the temperature by as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dunlea stresses that this Earth Day, people can't just leave it up to politicians to solve the problem.

"If we are concerned about what type of planet we're going to leave to our children and grandchildren, we ourselves have to take action," he explained. "And we have to look at every level of government and community for that action to occur."

He acknowledges that achieving 100 percent clean energy will require significant state and federal funds, and suggests a robust carbon tax could be the best way to raise that revenue.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY