Andrew Cuomo: Gov for All Seasons?
Eric Alterman describes Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to global warming as progressive [“The Cuomo Conundrum,” April 8]. But Cuomo’s response to global warming is troubling. While he talks about it—which is a good thing—Cuomo is considering allowing the oil and gas industry to frack New York. Contrary to industry propaganda, fracking does not help reduce global warming. In fact, because fracking inevitably leaks methane—which exacerbates climate change much more than carbon dioxide—fracking is a major climate threat.
Fortunately, Governor Cuomo has better, safer energy options. A recent peer-reviewed study by Cornell and Stanford scientists shows that New York could shift to renewable energy by 2030. Under the plan, 40 percent of energy would come from offshore wind farms, 10 percent from onshore wind farms, 38 percent from solar sources and 5.5 percent from hydroelectric plants.
Not only is the plan good for public health and the environment; it is good for New York’s economy—creating 4.5 million construction jobs and 58,000 permanent jobs from the new energy facilities alone. The economic benefit of the plan is estimated at $314 billion during construction and $5.1 billion a year afterward. Governor Cuomo has the chance to be a true leader on climate change—if he stands up to the oil and gas industry and bans fracking in New York.
Robert W. Howarth
Eric Alterman says that Governor Cuomo need not worry about wealthy people fleeing New York State if taxes get too high. Perhaps not, though hedge-fund billionaire and lifelong New Yorker John Paulson publicly flirted with a move to Puerto Rico. I suspect he won’t be the last, especially if New York’s taxes, combined with federal ones, push upper-income New Yorkers into marginal rates exceeding 50 percent. But the real problem is not seen in booming Manhattan or gentrifying Brooklyn, where high taxes are outweighed by the attractions of city life. New York’s economic woes are exemplified by small cities like Poughkeepsie, Schenectady and Utica, and larger ones like Syracuse and Buffalo, which fifty years ago were thriving manufacturing centers but now languish, losing industries and people. Economic revival can be aided in such cities by state policies, such as university-connected business “incubators.” But if there is to be a real economic revival, it must be generated by entrepreneurial energy, by young people willing to start businesses and families in upstate New York. Anyone contemplating staying in or moving to, say, Utica, to start a business knows that he or she will pay higher taxes and deal with a tougher regulatory climate than in, say, Texas. Andrew Cuomo is not wrong to worry about such matters. And liberals should, too.
“The complexity of the issue makes it easy for politicians to portray themselves as supporters of reform and then defang it behind closed doors,” says Eric Alterman about campaign finance reform in New York. And so it has been done. The NYS Fair Elections Bill being promoted by a broad coalition of good progressive organizations is doomed to fail, as it contains two fatal flaws.