New York state will eliminate its use of coal power by 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told state lawmakers Wednesday.
“New York [is] the nation’s leader in the fight against climate change and that’s something we should all be proud of,” said Cuomo in the speech. “[W]e will eliminate all use of coal in New York State by 2020. We will help the few remaining coal plants transition but we must clean our air and protect our health and that must be our first priority.”
The state currently has only three active coal-fired power plants, one of which is scheduled to close in 2016. These plants provide less than four percent of New York’s electricity. The shuttered coal power might be replaced by wind, solar or natural gas.
The intended goal of the policy is to help reduce New York’s carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector by 40 percent.
State lawmakers have already created a fund of $20 million to financially support communities losing power plants. The fund, however, is widely regarded as too small to make a difference. In the same Wednesday speech, Cuomo announced that he will allocate $300 million to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
The Energy Information Administration predicts that America will more than double the number of coal plants shutting down over the next five years. Such shutdowns have a cascading effect, causing the entire coal industry to collapse even further.
In 2015, 7,500 coal mining jobs were lost due to federal regulations aimed at preventing global warming, according to federal data. These regulations also spurred a sharp drop in the price of coal since coal plants were shut down.
An April 2015 study found the coal industry lost 50,000 jobs from 2008 to 2012, due to regulations and cheap natural gas. The coal country of west New York state and Appalachia has been economically devastated and has very few job options for the now-unemployed workers.
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