On June 1, 2017, New York Governor Cuomo, California Governor Brown and Washington State Governor Inslee declared their states’ commitment to the ideals of the Paris Climate Agreement (“Agreement”) by forming a United States Climate Alliance (“Alliance”). This action came in response to President Trump’s announcement earlier that day which stated the United States would immediately cease implementation of the Agreement which they joined in 2016. Governor Cuomo also issued an Executive Order which condemned President Trump’s decision as “an abdication of leadership” which “threatens the environmental and economic health of all New Yorkers.”
The Alliance’s membership grew to nine states by the end of June 2, when Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon and Hawaii chose to join the three founding states. The nine member states are predominantly Democratic, though both Massachusetts and Vermont joined the Alliance under the leadership of Republican Governors. As described by New York’s official announcement, the function of the Alliance is to “act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.” Whether a Constitutional issue will arise under a Compact Clause analysis may depend on the extent to which the Alliance fashions itself as an entity bound by explicit terms, as opposed to a loose “understanding” between the member states.
As a further measure, Governor Cuomo announced on June 2 that New York would partner with Cornell University’s Worker Institute and Climate Jobs NY in a Clean Climate Careers initiative. The initiative seeks to create 40,000 new jobs both directly and indirectly by 2020 through a three-pronged strategy: (1) investing up to $1.5 billion in clean technology development, (2) a $15 million commitment to training and apprenticeship opportunities for applicable trades and unions, and (3) advancing environmental justice through the creation of a Working Group to help underserved communities. To launch the Clean Climate Careers initiative, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (“NYSERDA”) and the New York Power Authority (“NYPA”) issued solicitations to procure a total of 2.5 million MWh of renewable energy per year. NYSERDA will host a webinar on June 14, 2017, pertaining to the application process for its RFP, which totals 1.5 million MWh. Those two Requests for Proposals (“RFPs”) are the first wave of solicitations under the Clean Climate Careers initiative, and are expected to be followed by a series of major procurements that will result in the development of 40 to 60 large-scale renewable energy projects by 2022—the largest clean energy procurement by any state in U.S. history.
While it is too early to predict what the coming weeks will bring for the Alliance, it seems clear that New York will strive to be a leader in the clean energy marketplace of goods and ideas.