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New York Times ($):

In a major win for climate advocates and supporters of wind and solar energy, New York State environmental regulators refused on Wednesday to allow two companies to upgrade their gas-fueled power plants — signaling a newly aggressive approach to ending fossil-fuel emissions that drive climate change.

With the decision — and a strong, immediate statement of support from Gov. Kathy Hochul — the officials took a clear and potentially influential position on a longstanding question that is at the center of national and global debates on renewable energy.

The regulators’ decision to deny the power plant upgrades in Astoria, Queens, and Newburgh, north of New York City, suggested confidence that the state will be able to build renewable energy — energy like wind and solar that comes from sources that are naturally replenishing — quickly enough and at sufficient scale to reliably supply power needs while meeting climate goals adopted by law in 2019.

Companies that sell gas or run gas-fueled plants have argued that gas is necessary as a so-called bridge fuel until New York has an established renewable infrastructure. But scientists, climate advocates and state officials have argued that continued investment in any fossil fuel, even gas — which is cleaner than oil or coal — would confound the goal of eliminating planet-heating emissions.

The 2019 climate law commits the state to getting 100 percent of its electricity by 2040 from sources that do not release greenhouse gases or pollute the air. By 2030, the state must get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, mainly by increasing wind and solar power.

[Grace Ashford and Anne Barnard]

More: How New York Just Took a Big Step Away From Fossil Fuels

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