LONG BEACH, N.Y. -- A major renewable energy project off Long Island suffered a big blow on Friday when Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed a controversial bill that would've expedited a planned wind farm off Long Beach.
Residents concerned about electromagnetic fields and construction won a victory against landing an offshore wind transmission line there.
"They've never done this on a community like this. We were the first one, and we were essentially gonna be the guinea pig of this process going forward and we weren't having it," said Tim Kramer, a member of Protect Our Coast LINY.
Hochul vetoed the bill that would've circumvented local rule and allowed the transmission line from wind turbines more than 15 miles off of Long Beach to power 1 million New York homes.
The governor wrote in her veto address, "It is incumbent on Renewable Energy developers to cultivate and maintain strong ties to their host communities."
"Equinor never made any real attempt to address the cities' concerns and they have brought this upon themselves," said Long Beach City Council President John Bendo. "They're talking about potentially closing our roads for up to two years ... absolutely disastrous to traffic flow."
Opponents said they support the transition away from fossil fuels to combat climate change, but the transmission line doesn't belong under densely-populated communities.
"They were going to put electromagnetic cables in the ground, which, unfortunately, Long Island has a high cancer rate. Now we are going to have electromagnetic fields to this degree?" said Assemblyman Ari Brown, a Republican from Cedarhurst.
Environmental leaders called the veto a bump in the road for offshore wind, but not the end of the journey.
"New York state is become further and further away from meeting our renewable energy goals as established by law, and that's a setback for us as a state," said Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "There has been a lot of myths and misinformation."
It's the second recent blow to Equinor. Last week, its request for a hefty rate increase was also denied. The company will have to decide if it will reroute its transmission line or pull out of New York altogether.
"The veto of 'The Planned Offshore Wind Transmission Act' undermines New York's commitment to the energy transition and the role offshore wind must play in achieving the state's renewable energy mandates. This decision sends another troubling signal to renewable energy developers following last week's action by the New York State Public Service Commission," said Molly Morris, president of Equinor Renewables Americas.
New York's goal is to produce all electricity with zero emissions by 2040 and build five offshore wind farms.
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