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Cuomo pitches plastic bag ban as Nixon leads ‘green’ march

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon says Gov.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon says Gov. Andrew Cuomo's efforts on renewable energy are "not good enough." Credit: Hans Pennink / AP - Frank Franklin II / AP

ALBANY — Actress and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon led a march Monday of more than 1,000 environmental activists to the State Capitol, saying Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s climate change record lagged behind his rhetoric.

As the activists poured into the building, Cuomo countered the criticism by announcing a proposal to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.

The exchange indicated that the Democratic primary fight seems to be intensifying week by week.

Nixon, best known as one of the stars of “Sex and the City,” bantered with activists, who chanted slogans and snapped dozens of “selfie” photographs with the candidate in the shadow of a former trash-burning power plant in downtown Albany that the state is seeking to transform into a natural-gas fired facility.

Nixon said despite Cuomo’s promises to move to renewable energy, the state still gets just 4 percent of its energy from wind and solar.

“And that’s not good enough,” Nixon said. “We can be in a growth industry. At a time when [President] Donald Trump has pulled out of the Paris accords, we can lead not only for our own state, but we can show the nation how to lead in renewable energy.”

Nixon has said the state should be using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Cuomo has called for reaching 50 percent by 2030. Cuomo has earmarked billions in state dollars to keep upstate nuclear plants open, saying workers needed the jobs while the state transitions to renewable fuels. Nixon contended “nuclear power is not a bridge to a clean energy economy.”

Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer said the governor has been a leader on climate change, from banning hydraulic fracturing for natural gas to moving to shutter the Indian Point nuclear plant.

Not long after the marchers reached the Capitol, Cuomo issued a news release announcing his proposal for a statewide ban on plastic shopping bags. That comes less than a year after the governor blocked New York City from imposing a 5-cent fee on bags. The Cuomo administration had said earlier this year it was studying the plastic bag issue.

“The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment,” Cuomo said in a statement.

It is unclear whether Cuomo’s proposal would fly in the Republican-led State Senate, which also opposed the city’s 5-cent bag fee. If adopted, the ban would pre-empt local laws such as Suffolk County’s new 5-cent fee.

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