New York Taking Action Amid Washington's Fossil Fuel Assault to Protect State's Waters and Coastal Communities
Governor Cuomo: "Today's bill says, no how, no way are you going to drill off the coast of Long Island and New York. It's not going to happen as long as we are in charge of this state...New York has to lead the way as an alternative to what this federal government is doing. Let them continue denying, we are going to admit the truth - admit the reality - and show that you can actually address it. That we have to address it. That is what the New York agenda is about."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by Billy Joel, signed legislation (S.2316 (Kaminsky)/A.2572 (Englebright)) to ban offshore drilling in New York State waters. The legislation will bar the state from granting permits for drilling, or oil or gas exploration in offshore areas controlled by the State. The ban will protect New York's waters and coasts by making it more difficult for oil and gas drilling to occur close to coastal New York, even in waters controlled by the federal government. In addition, the legislation prohibits the leasing of State-owned underwater coastal land that would authorize or facilitate the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas. The Governor signed the bill in direct response to the Trump administration proposal to open U.S. coastal areas to drilling.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of remarks is available below:
Thank you. Good afternoon. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you very much. First, what a day, with the sun and to be at Jones Beach. I was thinking on the way down, Jones Beach for me was the beach. We're going to the beach, I didn't really know there were alternative beaches at that time, it was just the beach is Jones Beach. And it is beautiful. Let's give a round of applause to all the people who work at Jones Beach and have done so much. To Laura Curran and Steve Bellone, let's give them a great round of applause and thank them for their leadership.
To Long Island's own Mr. Billy Joel. I'll tell you what I love most about Billy that he is now, he's an international icon, it's amazing how his music has just communicated to more and more people, and the more it communicates the more loved it is and the more popular it is. And what he means all across this country, what he's doing at Madison Square Garden. But what I love about him is with all the fame, with all the acclaim, with all the success, he never forgot where he came from and he never forgot what matters. And he is a Long Island boy and he loves Long Island, he is always there for New York and for Long Island.
Today's message is simple and it couldn't be at a more appropriate venue. This country is in the middle of an economic transition and at the same time an environmental crisis. We have a climate change crisis, we see it all across this country, we see it all across the globe. If you turn on the TV, if you look at a newspaper, you've seen it over and over and over again - climate change, extreme weather. It is a reality and it's getting worse, and it's getting worse, and it's getting worse. If you don't recognize that, I think you're now living in a state of denial, and denial never works. You never solve a problem you are unwilling to admit. That's true for government, that's true for life. Unfortunately we have a federal government that perpetuates the state of denial. Not only are they denying what's happening with our environment, they are actually aggravating the damage that is being done with our environment. You have a President, an administration that looks out at the world and says we have no climate change issue. We have no environmental issue. And as a matter of fact, wants to double down on fossil fuels and the very sources that created the problem in the first place. You see it when they pulled out of the Paris Accords. You see it what they want to do with the energy standards. Just over and over again denying the problem.
You've seen it here on Long Island—they're proposal to allow dumping of dredged materials in the Long Island Sound. We spent decades trying to clean up the Long Island Sound. They want to allow dredging again. And what is one of the really outrageous proposals, which is to allow offshore drilling. They want to open 90 percent of the coast of the eastern United States to offshore drilling. Even after everything we've gone through. After finding out the hard way over and over again that accidents do happen and some accidents are uncontrollable and irreparable. They want to do offshore drilling. And today's bill—and I want to thank Senator Kaminksy and Assemblyman Englebright for sponsoring the bill.
Today's bill says, no how, no way are you going to drill off the coast of Long Island and New York. It's not going to happen as long as we are in charge of this state. As Laura said, it's one of the steps we are taking. Because this is going to require a bold and an aggressive agenda on behalf of the state of New York. New York has to lead the way as an alternative to what this federal government is doing. Let them continue denying, we are going to admit the truth - admit the reality - and show that you can actually address it. That we have to address it. That is what the New York agenda is about. That is what the most aggressive goal in the United States to transition to renewables to transition to production of electricity by 2040 is all about. That's what today is all about with the offshore drilling ban, with the plastic bag bill. That's what the Manhattan protection bill is all about, that was signed. Thank you again Assemblyman Englebright.
That's what the Bay Park sewage treatment plant is all about. That's what cleaning up the Grumman Plume is all about. That's what partnering with Steve Bellone and Suffolk County to reduce nitrogen with a real sewage system is all about. That is what our shellfish restoration program is all about - the largest artificial reef program in our state's history is all about. The federal government is continuing denial. New York is showing the way forward and acting aggressively.
And now that is why I will end where I start. It is so appropriate to be here in Jones Beach because it reminds us of what New York has done in the past and what New York needs to do in the future. I took Jones Beach for granted when I was a kid. We just came. My grandparents took me when I was young. Then, when I could drive, I came myself. This was the beach. It was beautiful and it was here. I never really thought about how it got here or what it took to make it. But now you understand the true history that is New York, the legacy of what New York is. And yes, we are going to have our hands full battling back on this environmental agenda. But look at how they built Jones Beach.
First of all, there was no beach here. This was Robert Moses in one of his more audacious acts. The state didn't even own the land. There had to be a referendum passed locally to transfer the land to the state. The referendum lost. Moses came back again the next year. They ran a second referendum and it passed to transfer the land from the towns to the state. Problem two was, there was no beach. This was all swamp. It was all wetlands. Moses had to build the beach. Seven miles, fourteen feet of fill, is what jones beach is. They brought in 14 feet to raise it and seven miles long. It was the dredging from the state boat channel that created the beach while they created the channel. How bold, how aggressive. To find out how to transfer the land, to have a referendum, to lose, to come back to run a second referendum, to win, to put the state in a position to build the beach. But you then have to build the beach. And if you ever said we're going to build seven miles of beach, 14 miles high, 14 feet high, they would have said what are you kidding? No way, it's impossible. But New York says yes, there is a way. And we don't take no for an answer. And we are going to lead. And we have no alternative because that's who we are, and it's how we made New York New York.
It is that spirit that Billy Joel celebrates in his songs a hundred different ways, and is communicated to the nation, and communicated around the world. It is that essence of being a new Yorker that you can't bobble and there is no formula but it is special. And we do it over and over and over and over again. So did we invest $65 million in Jones Beach? Yes. Yes. To bring it back to its former glory, and I'm proud of it. Cost Governor Al Smith $15 million to make Jones Beach in the first place, which was unheard of. And they said they were going to get it done in five years and they actually got it done ahead of schedule. That's New York, that spirit. We'll show the way. We'll do it over, and over, and over again. And we're going to do it again today, when we sign this bill.
With that, let me ask my friend, for whom we both create a great service today, because today is not really about us, right? I enjoy Jones Beach. I'll come out a few more times. I have a few more times to enjoy it. But more, today is about making sure Jones Beach is here for our children and for the next generation, and for my daughters and for my goddaughters. That's what today is all about. To make sure we leave this place, a better place for them. The Native Americans have a beautiful proverb that sums it all up, that says, 'We did not inherit the land from our parents. We are borrowing it from our children.' And our job as parents, as citizens, as human beings, pass it on better than you found it. That's what today is all about. And Billy Joel has dedicated his life to making Long Island and New York and this world, a better world to pass on to his children.