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Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal Tuesday during his State of the State address to go 100 percent clean energy by 2040.
Cuomo says New York can wean off fossil fuels by relying on wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear power.
Previously, the state's renewable energy goal was set at 50 percent by 2030.
New York would adopt the most aggressive clean energy goal of any state under a plan from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that calls for generating 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2040.
Hitting the new target, which must be approved by state lawmakers, will require the state to increase its use of wind and solar energy as well as existing nuclear and hydroelectric power generation.
Speaking on public radio Wednesday, Cuomo said New York has no choice but to move to entirely renewable energy because of the urgent need to address climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Cuomo included the suggested energy standard in his state budget proposal, which was released Tuesday. Lawmakers hope to act on the budget before April 1.
"We know we can't continue to do what we're doing," Cuomo said on WCNY about the use of fossil fuels. "You look at the scientific projections and it's scary... I don't think it's really a choice."
Advocates for the environment and renewable energy praised the new goal, but said it will take preparation and determination by the state to hit it.
Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, called Cuomo's proposal "impressive, far-sighted," but noted Cuomo's proposal won't impact emissions from cars, trucks and other vehicles that run on fossil fuels.
"We can't reach these goals unless we're tackling transportation, the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S.," he said in a statement.
The group NY Renews - representing 160 environmental organizations, labor unions and other groups - called on Cuomo to flesh out his proposal with specifics.
"Any truly comprehensive plan to tackle climate change needs more specific deadlines, planning processes, and accountability for moving our whole economy off of fossil fuels than are currently included," the group NY Renews said in a statement.
Others questioned why the state has to wait 21 years. Alex Beauchamp, northeast regional director for the group Food & Water Watch, called Cuomo's plan "largely aspirational." His group supports legislation that would set a 100-percent goal by 2030, using state financing for renewable energy projects and energy efficiency to get there. That bill would also phase out nuclear power.
Cuomo had previously set the state's renewable energy goal at 50 percent by 2030, but officials now say they believe the state can hit 75 percent by that year.
If approved, New York's new renewable target would surpass those set in other states, including California and Hawaii, which have both pledged to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2045.