Tag Archives: wind

Rule would boost solar and wind energy development

The Obama administration took action Thursday to boost the development of solar and wind energy on public lands.

A final rule announced by the Interior Department would create a new leasing program on public lands and encourage development in areas where it would have fewer effects on the environment.

The rule came a little more than two months before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, and a new Republican administration could reconsider it.

The Interior Department said the rule would help develop cleaner domestic energy.

“We are facilitating responsible renewable energy development in the right places, creating jobs and cutting carbon pollution for the benefit of all Americans,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

President Barack Obama has called on the Interior Department to approve renewable energy projects that generate 20,000 megawatts of power on public land by 2020. The department said the rule’s competitive leasing provisions will apply to 700,000 acres of public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

 

Wind could power 20 percent of world’s electric by 2030

Wind power could supply as much as 20 percent of the world’s total electricity by 2030 due to dramatic cost reductions and pledges to curb climate change, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said in a report released in Beijing on Tuesday.

If last year’s Paris climate accord leads to a worldwide commitment to the decarbonization of the electricity sector, total wind power capacity could reach as much as 2,110 gigawatts (GW) by then, nearly five times its current level, the industry group said.

Such an increase in capacity would involve annual investment of 200 billion euros ($224 billion) and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3.3 billion tonnes per year, it said.

It forecast that China’s share of the total would reach 666.5 GW, more than quadrupling its current capacity.

The group said total global wind power installations stood at 433 GW by the end of last year, up 17 percent from a year earlier, and are set to rise by around 60 GW in 2016.

Much of the increase was driven by China, which accounted for 145.4 GW at the end of 2015, 33.6 percent of the total. China built 30.8 GW of new wind power capacity over the year, the highest annual addition by any country, the wind council said.

But the pace of capacity additions could fall in 2016, with China still struggling to find enough transmission capacity to take on the huge numbers of new turbines being built.

China’s energy regulator said in July that 21 percent of all wind-generated electricity was wasted in the first half of the year, due also to slowing electricity demand growth as well as the completion of new coal-fired power plants, which made it harder for wind projects to access the grid.

Wasted power – known as curtailment – stood at more than 40 percent in the distant northwestern provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang, where grid capacity is relatively weak, the regulator said.

The wind council said curtailment remained a “major challenge” for China, but the situation was likely to improve over the medium term as regulators work to solve the transmission bottlenecks.

Offshore wind industry has hopes for East Coast

The offshore wind industry has high hopes for establishing a permanent beachhead in the U.S. after years of disappointment.

Business leaders and politicians who gathered for an industry conference in Boston this week said wealthy investment firms and seasoned European offshore wind companies are increasingly committing to projects along the East Coast. That, they said, is evidence a domestic industry dreamed about for nearly two decades is finally on its way.

“There’s a palpable sense that it’s finally happening,” said Bryan Martin, a managing director at D.E. Shaw & Co. That New York hedge fund is the principal backer of Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island-based company looking to launch the country’s first offshore wind farm off Block Island by the end of the year. “The U.S. tends to start small and ramp up very fast. I believe that will happen with offshore wind.”

Among the significant new players to emerge in the past year is DONG Energy, a Danish firm that operates more than a dozen wind farms, including some of Europe’s largest.

The government-owned company has leased roughly 187,000 acres of federal waters about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and recently announced intentions to seek a second federal lease in waters off New Jersey.

“Massachusetts has some of the best offshore wind conditions in the world, and the peak wind speeds match the peak demand times for energy, so that is why we see so much potential,” says Lauren Burm, a Boston-based spokeswoman.

OffshoreMW, which is owned by the private equity giant the Blackstone Group and has ties to a company that recently completed a wind farm in Germany’s North Sea, has also joined the fray in Massachusetts, securing federal development rights to an area near DONG’s lease. So, too, has Deepwater Wind.

Elsewhere, Renexia, an Italian company specializing in renewable energy projects, is backing a project about 15 miles off Ocean City, Maryland.

The new players are helping the industry move past the stumbles of Cape Wind, the once-high-profile project proposed for the waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, that never quite got off the ground. The project has been bogged down for years in a bitter and costly legal fight with wealthy property owners, including billionaire William Koch.

“To have steel in the water and to be talking about an existing domestic offshore wind industry is really critical,” says Nancy Sopko of the American Wind Energy Association, referring to Deepwater Wind’s Rhode Island project. “We’re talking about an industry that is here, not one that is coming.”

Matthew Morrissey, head of Offshore Wind Massachusetts, an industry advocacy group, says the expected closure of a number of coal and nuclear-powered energy plants in New England in the coming years also presents an opportunity for the industry. The region faces a major energy-production drop-off, and Morrissey says his industry is positioned to help fill that void.

But Audra Parker, head of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the opposition group fighting the Cape Wind project, says it remains to be seen how much power will cost from these offshore wind projects. Offshore wind power, she noted, is more costly to produce than natural gas or other forms of renewable energy like solar power or land-based wind turbines.

Martin, of D.E. Shaw & Co., says technological advances already in place in Europe — like larger, more powerful turbines — will help bring the cost of offshore wind power down, though he and other developers have so far declined to say by how much, citing the competitive nature of the business.

A state by state look at renewable energy requirements

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have requirements that utilities get a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Nine additional states have goals for renewable energy, while a dozen others have no targets.

A state-by-state look at renewable energy policies.

WISCONSIN

State law sets a target of 10 percent of all electricity coming from renewable sources this year. Requirements vary for each utility, but the amount of renewable energy must be at least 6 percentage points above its 2001-2003 average.

ALABAMA

No renewable energy standard.

ALASKA

A bill passed in 2010 sets a goal, but not a requirement, for Alaska to receive half its electricity from renewable and alternative energy sources by 2025.

ARIZONA

Public utilities must get 6 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 15 percent by 2025.

ARKANSAS

No renewable energy standard.

CALIFORNIA

Utilities must get one-third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. That requirement rises to 40 percent by 2024, 45 percent by 2027 and half of all electricity by 2030.

COLORADO

Utility companies currently must get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, rising to 30 percent by 2020. The standards are lower for electric cooperatives and municipal suppliers, topping out at 10 or 20 percent by 2020 depending on their size.

CONNECTICUT

Utilities must get 21 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 27 percent by 2020.

DELAWARE

Utilities must derive 13 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources this year, gradually rising annually until reaching 25 percent in 2025.

FLORIDA

No renewable energy standard.

GEORGIA

No renewable energy standard.

HAWAII

Utility companies must provide 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources this year. That requirement rises to 30 percent in 2020, 40 percent in 2030 and 70 percent in 2040. By 2045, all electricity must come from renewable sources.

IDAHO

No renewable energy standard.

ILLINOIS

Utilities are required to get at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources this year, gradually rising annually to 25 percent by 2025.

INDIANA

Public utilities can receive regulatory approval for larger earnings if they agree to obtain at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. As much as 30 percent of that target can come from clean-burning coal facilities, nuclear power and natural gas generators that displace coal-fired plants.

IOWA

The state adopted the nation’s first renewable energy law in 1983, requiring investor-owned utilities to have 105 megawatts of generating capacity from renewable sources. Utilities have far exceeded that threshold.

KANSAS

A state law had required at least 20 percent of a utility’s peak demand for electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. But an amendment passed this year made that a voluntary goal.

KENTUCKY

No renewable energy standard.

LOUISIANA

No renewable energy standard.

MAINE

At least 40 percent of total retail electricity sales must come from renewable energy sources by 2017.

MARYLAND

Utilities must comply with a gradually increasing standard that requires at least 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2022.

MASSACHUSETTS

Utilities must derive 11 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, gradually rising to 15 percent by 2020 and growing by an additional 1 percent annually thereafter.

MICHIGAN

Utilities must get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources as of this year.

MINNESOTA

Most utilities must provide 17 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, rising to 21.5 percent in 2020 and 26.5 percent in 2025. The state’s largest utility faces a higher standard of 25 percent from renewable sources by 2016 and 31.5 percent by 2020.

MISSISSIPPI

No renewable energy standard.

MISSOURI

Investor-owned utilities currently must get 5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 10 percent in 2018 and 15 percent beginning in 2021.

MONTANA

Public utilities must get at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources as of this year.

NEBRASKA

No renewable energy standard.

NEVADA

Utilities currently must derive 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources. That requirement rises to 22 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2025.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Utilities must get 16.7 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 24.8 percent in 2025.

NEW JERSEY

Utilities must get more than 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

NEW MEXICO

Public utilities currently must provide at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 20 percent by 2020. Rural electric cooperatives face a lesser standard of 5 percent renewable sources this year, rising to 10 percent by 2020.

NEW YORK

Utilities must get 29 percent of their electricity from renewable sources as of this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a goal of renewable sources comprising half of all electricity by 2030.

NORTH CAROLINA

Utilities currently must provide 6 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 10 percent in 2018. For investor-owned utilities, that rises to 12.5 percent in 2021.

NORTH DAKOTA

State law sets a voluntary goal of supplying 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by this year.

OHIO

A state law had required utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from alternative sources by 2025, with half of that coming from renewable sources and half from improved technologies such as clean-burning coal or nuclear facilities. But a 2014 law put a hold on the gradual implementation of those standards, meaning the renewable energy portion of that requirement will remain at 2.5 percent in 2016.

OKLAHOMA

State law sets a goal, but not a requirement, for 15 percent of electrical generating capacity to come from renewable sources as of this year.

OREGON

Large utilities currently must get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 20 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2025. Smaller utilities face a renewable requirement of either 10 percent or 5 percent by 2025, depending on their size.

PENNSYLVANIA

Utilities currently must get 13.7 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, gradually rising annually to 18 percent by 2021. A portion of that can come from clean-burning coal facilities.

RHODE ISLAND

The state Public Utilities Commission delayed a scheduled increase this year in its renewable energy standards, citing a potentially inadequate supply. That held the requirement at 8.5 percent – instead of 10 percent – of electricity coming from renewable sources.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Utilities may choose to participate in an energy program that includes at least 2 percent of their electricity coming from in-state renewable energy facilities by 2021.

SOUTH DAKOTA

State law sets a voluntary goal of 10 percent of electricity coming from renewable sources and conservation efforts as of this year.

TENNESSEE

No renewable energy standard.

TEXAS

In 1999, the state set a target of having 5,880 megawatts of generating capacity from renewable energy by this year, with a goal of 10,000 megawatts by 2025. That long-range goal already has been exceeded.

UTAH

State law sets a target for utilities to provide about 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, if it is cost-effective to do so.

VERMONT

A law enacted this year converted Vermont’s renewable energy targets to requirements, meaning utilities will have to get 55 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017. That will rise periodically until it reaches 75 percent in 2032.

VIRGINIA

Investor-owned utilities have a voluntary 2016 state goal for their renewable energy to equal 7 percent of their electricity sales in 2007. That goal rises to 12 percent in 2022 and 15 percent in 2025.

WASHINGTON

Large utilities must obtain at least 9 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2016 and 15 percent by 2020.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Utilities must provide an amount of electricity from renewable sources that increases each year, reaching 20 percent in 2020.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lawmakers this year repealed a 2009 law that had set a goal for large investor-owned utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2015 and 25 percent by 2025. The repealed law had included certain coal and natural gas facilities in its description of renewable sources.

WYOMING

No renewable energy standard.

Greenpeace report: 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 possible

Greenpeace has released its 2015 Energy [R]evolution report, which finds that a global phase out of fossil fuels and shift towards 100 percent renewable energy is possible by 2050.

The analysis, researched in collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre, shows that the transition to renewables would create jobs and be cost competitive. The necessary investment in clean energy would be more than covered by future savings in fuel costs.

“The phase out of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy is not only needed, but can be achieved globally by mid-century,” said Greenpeace USA climate and energy campaign director Kelly Mitchell. “In the United States, we must prioritize keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground while accelerating the transition to clean energy like wind and solar. Doing so would both create new jobs and ensure a healthier planet for future generations.”

In December, world leaders will gather at the UN climate summit in Paris with an opportunity to take the necessary steps to fight climate change by accelerating the transformation of the world’s energy sector.

Globally, the average additional investment needed in renewables is roughly $1 trillion a year until 2050. Because renewables don’t require fuel, the savings over the same period would be $1.07 trillion a year, which more than covers the costs of the required investment.

The report finds that the solar PV industry could employ 9.7 million people by 2030. In the United States, there are already twice as many solar workers as coal miners.

Previous Greenpeace Energy [R]evolution reports have accurately predicted the potential and market growth of renewable energy.

The US-based Meister Consultants Group concluded earlier this year that Greenpeace forecasts were more accurate than those of other established groups, including the International Energy Agency, Goldman Sachs and the US Department of Energy.

“We must not let the fossil fuel industry’s lobbying stand in the way of a switch to renewable energy, the most effective and fairest way to deliver a clean and safe energy future,” said Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo. “I urge all those who say ‘it can’t be done’ to read this report and recognize that it can be done and must be done for the benefit of people around the world.”

Within 15 years, renewables’ share of electricity could triple from 21 percent to 64 percent, which would ensure almost two-thirds of global electricity supply is delivered from clean energy. Despite the rapid development of countries like Brazil, China and India, CO2 emissions could fall from the current 30 gigatonnes a year to 20 gigatonnes by 2030.

“The solar and wind industries have come of age, and are now cost competitive with coal,” said Greenpeace’s Sven Teske, the lead author of the report. “It is very likely they will overtake the coal industry in terms of jobs and energy supplied within the next decade. It’s the responsibility of the fossil fuel industry to prepare for these changes in the labor market and make provisions. Every dollar invested in new fossil fuel projects is high risk capital which could end up as stranded investment.”

Naidoo concluded: “Following this Greenpeace scenario, the Paris climate agreement must deliver a long term vision for phasing out coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy by mid-century, reaching the goal of 100% renewables with energy access for all.”

On the Web …

Find the report at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Climate-Reports/Energy-Revolution-2015/ 

Koch Brothers group, Ryan-led committee move to kill domestic wind energy

Under the leadership of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the House Ways and Means committee is considering legislation to make many of the so-called “tax extenders” permanent.

The legislation excludes the production tax credit for wind, a now-expired incentive that is vital to the growing domestic wind industry, according to Friends of the Earth, a grassroots environmental group.

News of this came one day after the Koch-aligned Americans for Prosperity and other conservative groups wrote to Ryan urging the committee chairman not to extend incentives for renewable energy.

Friends of the Earth climate and energy campaigner Lukas Ross said in a statement,” When the Koch Brothers say ‘jump,’ chairman Paul Ryan asks ‘how high?’ Once again Republican leadership feels the need to publicly pledge fealty to its Big Oil backers.

“Cutting off the wind industry at the knees while ignoring Big Oil’s egregious tax giveaways is nothing short of climate denial. Avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will to require an Apollo Project-sized commitment to renewable energy. Chairman Ryan’s proposal delays the renewable energy future we so desperately need.”

See also:

Walker wants $250,000 to duplicate wind energy study because he didn’t like the findings

As Wisconsin tries to kill clean energy, Indiana announces two massive wind farms

Fight back against WE Energies’ assault on clean energy in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s solar energy eclipse

Wind turbines at center of bat protection rules

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering requests from the wind energy industry to exempt wind turbines in Wisconsin and nationwide from new rules to protect threatened bats, even as a fungal disease has killed millions of the creatures.

Because of the disease, white-nose syndrome, the federal agency listed the northern long-eared bat as threatened. The temporary rule to list the bat as threatened exempted some activities, but not wind energy generation. The agency is now considering a final rule, including potential exemptions for wind turbines.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said wind turbines cause a significant number of bat deaths. A 2013 study, cited in the Federal Register, found wind turbines nationwide killed 650,000 to 1.3 million bats in a year.

“You actually have dead bodies in hand,” Rick Amidon, a USFWS regional director in Minnesota, said of the giant turbines. He contrasted that with forestry and highway right-of-way work, which are exempted from the new rules because they kill and harm fewer bats.

Estimates through 2013 show white-nose syndrome has killed as many as 6.7 million bats since it was first discovered in 2006, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency said it expects the disease to spread and the number of deaths to grow.

In 2008 and 2009, a carcass survey conducted at the Blue Sky Green Field Project wind farm in Fond du Lac County estimated the bat fatality rate during the six-month study period at 41 bats per turbine.

Such fatalities are of special concern in Wisconsin where white-nose syndrome is spreading and threatening to dramatically reduce bat populations. The state Department of Natural Resources has found the disease itself or the fungus that causes the disease at 14 hibernation caves, or hibernacula.

Diseased bats have been found in Grant, Crawford, Richland, Door and Dane counties. The fungus has been discovered in Iowa, Dodge and Lafayette counties.

The disease was first seen in a Grant County mine in March 2014, and 70 percent of the bats there have since died — an indication of how deadly the disease can be. So far that mine is the only location where bats have died in such large numbers in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is home to several of the largest bat hibernation sites in the upper Midwest, with a population estimated at up to 500,000. The state’s four species of cave bats — all of which are threatened by white-nose syndrome — serve a crucial role by consuming insects that cost farmers nationwide more than a billion dollars a year.

Wind turbine operators and proponents argue that the disease is the primary threat to bats and that the turbines do not account for enough deaths to warrant stricter rules.

John Anderson, a senior director for the American Wind Energy Association, said it is neither fair nor effective for the Fish and Wildlife Service to put “a conservation burden on activities that are not having a significant effect,” Midwest Energy News, a nonprofit energy news website, reported recently. “The wind industry is one of them.”

High-stakes mortality

But Amidon, with the Fish and Wildlife Service, said that some bat populations — such as northern long-eared — are so precarious that even the marginal additional deaths caused by wind turbines can become a factor in their survival.

“The bottom line,” Amidon said, “is that if you have a huge population decline, the bats that are remaining become very important.”

The northern long-eared bat, one of four cave bat species in Wisconsin, weighs only about 0.3 ounce and has been found in 37 states. It has been identified in 67 of the state’s hibernacula. Other than those caves and mines, however, the bat has no other refuges, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, and a population analysis led the agency to conclude that the bat could face extinction if white-nose syndrome infected its major hibernacula.

The decision to list the bat species as endangered could force wind turbine operators in affected areas nationwide to spend about $610 million over the next 30 years, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

That cost would cover developing and maintaining a habitat conservation plan, which would show how the operator is going to minimize bat deaths. Such a plan would be required by the wildlife service before it issued an “incidental take” permit, allowing inadvertent killing of bats.

Brian Manthey, a spokesman for WE Energies, which owns the Fond du Lac wind farm where the tests were conducted, said the utility must find a way to protect bats and birds while maximizing wind energy production. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Wisconsin’s 417 wind turbines provided 2.65 percent of all in-state electricity production in 2014, enough to power 148,000 homes. Manthey added that percentage is expected to grow.

Manthey said there is no doubt that the bat protections would be a “financial hit” for turbine operators.

“What would have to be weighed is how do we maximize the amount of energy with the least impact on bats and birds,” Manthey said.

Midwest plan proposed

In a related move, the Fish and Wildlife service is also taking suggestions for an environmental impact study on an eight-state plan to protect habitat for all bats and birds. The agency has scheduled a series of hearings, including a comment session in Madison taking place as WiG went to press.

In the study, the agency would consider the impact of exemptions which would protect operators of wind turbines from prosecution for incidental bat deaths and injuries.

The Wisconsin DNR has been working with the Fish and Wildlife Service on early drafts of the habitat conservation plan. DNR spokesman Bill Cosh said the federal agency is considering exempting wind farm development except in areas within a 20-mile radius around primary hibernacula, including the Bay City, Maiden Rock and Neda mines, along major rivers and within 3 miles of Great Lakes shorelines.

New wind projects in areas not covered by the habitat plan would need to seek individual incidental take permits from the Fish and Wildlife Service, Cosh said.

But Amidon said wind turbine operators have indicated they would prefer a blanket exemption.

In seeking exemption from the threatened species rule, the American Wind Energy Association has proposed adjusting turbine operations to reduce bat deaths. Based on the theory that bats do not fly in high winds, the association says that operators could prevent blades from turning until the wind reaches a certain speed, known as “cut-in speed.” During migration periods and during periods of low wind, bats are more active.

Manthey said the practice is the subject of a new study by WE Energies. According to the company, other studies have reported average reductions in bat mortality ranging from 36 to 89 percent using such curtailment practices.

Russ Benedict, a professor of biology at Central College in Pella, Iowa, estimated that changing the cut-in speed would cut bat mortality by 50 percent but only reduce energy production by 3 percent.

“If we are more careful about when we use wind turbines,” Benedict said, “we won’t have that big of an impact on energy production, but we can dramatically reduce bat mortalities.”

Editor’s note: The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism contributed to this report. The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

Study: Offshore wind v. offshore drilling

Offshore wind could produce twice the number of jobs and twice the amount of energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the environmental group Oceana.

The group challenges recent claims by the oil and gas industry that opening the East Coast to offshore drilling would lead the United States to energy independence, generate millions of dollars in revenue for states and create thousands of jobs.

Oceana said in its analysis, the benefits projected by the industry are exaggerated, due to the inclusion of oil and gas resources that are not economically recoverable. Industry estimates also rely on an assumption of a state revenue-sharing system that does not exist.

Oceana, in a report released in mid-January, also finds that offshore oil and gas development along the Atlantic could put at risk some of the nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation.

Other key findings:

• In 13 years, offshore wind could generate more energy than could be provided by all of the economically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources.

• In the next 20 years, offshore wind could create about 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling — about double the job creation potential of offshore oil and gas.

• A modest and gradual development of offshore wind on the East Coast over the next 20 years could generate enough energy to power over 115 million households.

New York Gov. Cuomo announces fracking ban

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Dec. 17 that hydraulic fracturing will be banned in New York, following the release of a long-anticipated study that concluded fracking could pose “significant public health risks.”

Also today, the Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees voted to approve only a fraction of the renewable energy projects promised by the governor, bringing just 122 megawatts of new solar projects online and falling short of the 280 megawatts of renewable energy the governor committed to this year.

After Cuomo’s announcement, Deborah Goldberg, the managing attorney with Earthjustice, said, “This is truly a monumental day. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has earned a place in history. Never before has a state with proven gas reserves banned fracking. I believe that future generations will point to this day and say ‘This is when the tide began to turn against the dirty, dangerous and destructive fossil fuel industry.'”

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said the national group “applauds Gov. Cuomo for recognizing what the science has made consistently clear: fracking is a hazard to human health that endangers communities wherever it is allowed. By banning fracking, Gov. Cuomo has set himself apart as a national political leader who stands up for people, and not for the interests of the dirty fuel lobby. Today’s decision will shake the foundations of our nation’s flawed energy policy, and we can only expect that it will give strength to activists nationwide who are fighting fracking in dozens of states and hundreds of cities and counties.”

Brune said “passionate anti-fracking activists in New York” were “relentless in telling the truth about the dangers of fracking, persevered years of opposition from the oil and gas lobby, and ultimately prevailed. All we need now is for New York to bring wind, solar, and energy efficiency to full potential so we can leave dirty fuels in the ground and move quickly to clean energy prosperity.”

Julia Walsh of Frack Action added, “On behalf of millions of New Yorkers, we would like to thank the governor for his leadership and keeping his word in listening to the science and protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers over the special interests of the oil and gas industry. The science on fracking has been clear. The toxic drilling process would threaten our health, poison our water and air, and forever mar New York as hundreds of health professionals and medical organizations have told us. This decision will affect New York for generations to come. We now look forward to making New York the renewable energy capital of the United States, leading the nation to a better, brighter future.”

Some background on the issue: 

> Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy recently released a statistical analysis of the approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies to date on the impacts of fracking and shale gas development. It showed:

• 96 percent of all papers published on health impacts indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

• 87 percent of original research studies published on health outcomes indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

• 95 percent of all original research studies on air quality indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants.

• 72 percent of original research studies on water quality indicate potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination.

> Concerned Health Professionals of NY recently released an updated compendium of the scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating the risks and harms of fracking, with the pace of new studies rapidly expanding — the first few months of 2014 saw more studies published on the health effects of fracking than all studies published in 2011 and 2012 combined.

> A new NYPIRG report released this week showed how local municipalities aren’t suited to decide about fracking because of failed ethics and transparency laws. It revealed that some local governments adopted pro-fracking resolutions despite possible conflicts of interest and failure to provide adequate public notice.

Goldberg, who represented the Town of Dryden, New York, in its precedent-setting fracking ban case, said on Dec. 17 that New Yorkers won a hard-fought victory. “Now all New Yorkers can enjoy the safety and peace of mind that the 80 New York communities that have banned fracking already have,” she said. “We hope that this determined leadership Governor Cuomo has displayed will give courage to elected leaders throughout the country and world: fracking is too dangerous and must not continue.”