Andrew Cuomo’s Empire of Economic and Environmental Injustice

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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Andrew Cuomo has, by politically choosing winners and losers, delivered nothing but economic and environmental injustice to New York and it’s all falling apart.

Our friend and guest blogger Chris Acker sent me a couple of news clips yesterday that demonstrate what a disaster Andrew Cuomo has been for New York, though few New Yorkers seem to realize it. His policies are all about choosing winners and losers for other New Yorkers.

He has chosen Tesla as a politically correct winner and natural gas as an equally politically correct loser, despite the fact the former is accomplishing nothing for the environment and the latter is responsible for lowering emissions here in the U.S. to a degree never even thought possible. He has also chosen the wealthy elites of the NRDC gang as winners and the poor who live in NYC public housing as losers. Indeed, everywhere you look there is nothing but economic and environmental injustice today in New York, thanks to Andrew Cuomo.

The two stories forwarded by Chris spell out the economic and environmental injustice that has been wrought by Andrew Cuomo. First there is the continuing disaster that has been Andrew Cuomo’s “investment” of New York taxpayer money with the pasty faced con man Elon Musk:

The bottom line of this story isn’t pretty:

“It’s a wake-up call,” said Dale Witherell, who was among the 50 employees that Tesla laid off in Buffalo, part of a larger 7 percent reduction of its global workforce.

“I don’t know how Gigafactory II has been going on this long without any checks and balances or any government officials or politicians actually monitoring or watching and holding them to some standards.”

Tesla’s fourth quarter financial results back up some of the problems raised by the employees, as the solar side of Tesla continues to struggle…

The plant at Riverbend in Buffalo was built and equipped with $750 million in taxpayer funds – the centerpiece of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative. As part of the deal, Tesla must employ 1,460 workers at the facility by April 2020 or face $41.2 million in state penalties…

Tesla reported a 21 percent decrease in installed solar systems for the fourth quarter.

Company officials said in the quarterly update letter that transitioning the sales force to sell both cars and solar systems has been a challenge. For the second time, the ramp up of the Solar Roof got delayed.

“We plan to ramp up the production of Solar Roof with significantly improved manufacturing capabilities during 2019, based on the design iterations and testing underway,” Tesla stated in its quarterly update letter…

“Some weeks we produced enough solar modules for zero homes and probably the best I saw was maybe four homes in a week, so that is alarmingly scary to obviously be a part of a company who doesn’t have any sense of urgency to tackle these issues and get them working correctly,” Witherell said.

Scott said his experiences there have him questioning the massive state investment that Gov. Cuomo made on behalf of taxpayers.

“That $750 million could have been spread out a lot better to a lot of other companies to stay here in Buffalo than sinking it into one big company,” Scott said…

News 4 Investigates requested through the Freedom of Information law the job numbers at Tesla’s Buffalo plant

After three months passed without any documents, News 4 appealed to the state. Only then did the state provide two sheets of paper that showed employment numbers by quarter for both Tesla and Panasonic, including workers employed elsewhere in the state by Tesla. The documents did not state how the state insures the job data is accurate.

But the data only showed job numbers for each quarter through the end of 2017, when Tesla employed 188 workers and Panasonic employed 279 workers at the facility…

“The state of the Gigafactory II is in, I believe, a spot where it can no longer recover from,” Witherell said.

“It’s a terrible loss for obviously the taxpayers of New York state and obviously the City of Buffalo.”

It’s become obvious the whole SolarCity/Tesla thing is a boondoggle for New York; a chosen winner that’s turned out to be a loser. Meanwhile, unsubsidized natural gas development in Pennsylvania has delivered jobs, tax revenue, economic revitalization, lower emissions and lower costs of energy. This is what Andrew Cuomo to be the loser by banning fracking (“at this time”) and also blocking pipelines that only deliver gas to New Yorkers and New Englanders.

And, who suffers? Well, not the wealthy elites who compose the NRDC gang and have demanded Cuomo pick natural gas as the loser. No, it’s the poor. They’re burdened with the economic and environmental injustice of a policy that deprives them of the dependable, cleaner, lower cost natural gas that could be replacing the oil now being burned in public housing projects. Moreover, these same policies have now resulted in moratoriums on new gas hookups needed to support economic development and provide jobs for the low and moderate income. It’s a deadly combination of economic and environmental injustice.

This is the fruit of insane attempt by Andrew Cuomo to personally direct New York’s economy, but it’s not there’s more. He hasn’t just hurt the poor; he’s hurt every New Yorker by perpetuating a long-time tax and spend policy that has particularly burdened Upstate New York while denying it the economic revival natural gas would have spurred. Cuomo is but the latest governor to embrace that sort of thinking.

He and his predecessors of both parties were enabled by a Federal tax system that let New Yorkers get a deduction for their high state taxes on their Federal tax bill. Now, that is no longer the case for those who happen to be wealthier than the average bear. It’s caused those wealthier New Yorkers to suddenly care how much their state taxes and spends. The result is that many are leaving or finding ways around the taxes, leaving the state with a huge $2.3 billion drop in revenue:

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state is facing a $2.3 billion tax-revenue shortfall, and argued that the deficit can be attributed to the “diabolical” recently passed federal tax-reform package.

Cuomo blamed the loss of tax revenue, the scale of which was unpredicted by state officials, on a provision in the Republican-led tax reform package that capped state and local tax deductions at $10,000, depriving the wealthiest New Yorkers of a significant tax break that defrayed the high state taxes imposed by Albany.

Those New Yorkers affected by the loss of the SALT deduction are now filing their income taxes in other states or using other means to circumvent their tax liabilities, Cuomo seemed to suggest.

“[Capping] SALT was an economic civil war,” Cuomo said at a news conference Monday at the Capitol, referring to the State and Local Tax deduction. “It literally restructured the economy to help red states at the cost of blue states. That’s exactly what it did. It was a diabolical, political maneuver.”

Naturally, Cuomo has spun the problem exactly opposite of the truth. Red states had heretofore, in fact, been subsidizing high-tax New York, letting it pass that burden onto other lower-tax states through an off-setting Federal tax deduction. But, that’s the sort of lie to be expected of Andrew Cuomo. He loved the ability to throw somebody else’s money at uber-huckster Elon Musk for the sake of embellishing his green credentials with the likes of the wealthy elites in the NRDC gang. He knows they’re the sort of people who might help finance a future presidential campaign, after all.

Now, predictably, it’s all falling apart; the empire is slowly collapsing. Wealthy New Yorkers aren’t so happy to finance green new deals and boondoggles such as Tesla/SolarCity when they can’t deduct the higher taxes required to pay for it. A measure of economic and environmental justice is being restored, together with whole lot of poetic justice, as we have Andrew Cuomo finally admitting he cares more about the rich than the rest.

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8 thoughts on “Andrew Cuomo’s Empire of Economic and Environmental Injustice

  1. Good morning Tom.

    So many mistruths here, where to begin? I’ll just pick two.

    A – It is not true that Tesla is doing NOTHING for the environment. Electric cars are good, and I see their electric cars all over the Newburgh area. There’s even a restaurant that has parking spaces with charging stations. Exaggerated claims like “Tesla doing nothing” just shoots even bigger holes in your credibility than you already have. There are arguments you can credibly make. Make them.

    B – Get your definitions right. Envirnmental injustice is when society places all of its dirty, polluting industries – like natural gas extraction – in areas where poor people live, like the farming areas of Pennsylvania. I don’t think you would ever see gas wells in the Hamptons (Putting aside the fact that there are no gas reservoirs out there, obviously).

  2. Mr. Dogma: Solyndra left behind 12 million pounds of cadmium-laced waste when they folded after blowing through $550 million Federal dollars. How we doing on waste disposal from solar panel manufacturing in Buffalo? Where are the 1,400 jobs? Tesla automobiles are toys for the rich who can afford virtue signaling, but they don’t do much for the rest of us in upstate NY where our rights as land owners have been denied by your shyster pals and paid-to-play shills. NY state needs the jobs and tax revenue and energy from natural gas development, and instead we get people like you telling us to buy Teslas. Do you have one? Susquehanna River Basin Commission has 58 on-line water monitoring stations on the Susquehanna River providing data every 5 minutes since 2010, and there’s no evidence of contamination from natural gas development.

  3. Personally, I can’t think of anything more disingenuous and patronizing than a representative of an industry responsible for massive systemic soil, air, and water pollution, criticizing the government of one of our nation’s strongest state economies for environmental and ‘economic’ injustice.

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