NY gov aims to phase out coal by 2020

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday he aims to phase out coal-fired power plants in the state by 2020. 

Cuomo announced the goal in his state of the state address, pushing to bring more green energy to New York and reduce its carbon pollution. 

"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," he said.

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New York only gets about 1.3 percent of its electricity from coal, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. Greens and Democrats welcomed his Wednesday pledge to zero that figure out. 

“Today, Gov. Cuomo has shifted New York’s focus from the energy of the past to the energy of the future,” Lisa Dix, the New York senior director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement. 

“We look forward to working with the administration toward a just and fair transition policy framework for coal affected communities and to support the governor’s legacy climate and energy programs. His commitment to end coal, and invest in New York communities and jobs will build New York into an economic powerhouse, and an international leader, fueled by renewable energy.” 

In his speech, Cuomo also reaffirmed his plans to cut carbon pollution in New York by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. He has mandated that the state get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and pledged to add 150,000 solar panels and 300 wind turbines around the state. 

"Protecting our environment is a top priority," Cuomo said. "The Native American proverb is true: 'We don’t inherit the land from our parents. We are borrowing it from our children.'"

Cuomo’s energy pledges are among the most aggressive in the nation. Hawaii lawmakers lawmakers passed a law last year mandating 100-percent renewable energy by 2045. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has pushed to generate half its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

—This post was updated at 5:01 p.m.