Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday renewed his promise to adhere to the Paris climate change accord, a day after President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from it.
Cuomo made the declaration in Westhampton Friday, where he announced plans to support coastal research.
The 2015 climate agreement — ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union — pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow down global temperature increases. Trump had critized it as an ineffective deal that was unfair to the U.S. economy.
“This is a giant step backwards,” Cuomo said to a crowd of about 100 politicians, activists and others. “The environment is not the enemy of the economy.”
Cuomo and the governors of California and Washington announced the creation of the United States Climate Alliance Thursday and invited other states committed to the Paris Agreement to join.
“I don’t understand the thinking or the reasoning but we’re going the other way and we’re going to bring a lot of other people with us,” Cuomo said.
The governor went on to announce $2.05 million in state funding that will be directed to the New York Sea Grant program, which supports research, education and outreach in coastal communities.
“It’s great to have a leader who cares about the environment,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who was at the event.
The money, from the state Environmental Protection Fund, is on top of an $400,000 allocation already set aside for Sea Grant. Trump’s proposed budget wipes out $73 million in funding to 33 Sea Grant programs nationwide.
Cuomo spoke after visiting a clam spawning sanctuary in Western Shinnecock Bay where Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences runs the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Project. Projects like this are funded through Sea Grant, he said.
The program has seeded about 2.5 million clams in spawning sites in the past 5 to 6 years. Stony Brook professor Chris Gobler said a thriving clam population would restore historic stocks but also help reduce nitrogen levels, which can cause harmful algal blooms such as brown tide that is toxic to shellfish but not people.
Gobler estimated the western part of the bay needs about 30 million clams to help protect water quality and stave off brown tide, which has become a more persistent problem in recent years.
“The goal is to get a density whereby they’re filtering at such a rate they reduce the brown tide,” Gobler said.
Cuomo was joined on the boat ride to the spawning area by local politicians and environmentalists, who helped toss clams into the water.
He also challenged local governments to find and build facilities for clam and oyster hatchery programs, saying he could find $2 million to contribute to the effort.
“We are losing ground,” he said. “The brown tide . . . is just evidence we are losing the fight. We now need to increase our rate of reproduction of clams and oysters so that they are more effective at filtering.”
Before throwing the last clam into the water, Cuomo kissed it and added: “I wish you to reproduce, have a long life and make many babies.”