offshore wind farm
The Deepwater Windfarm, 12 miles east off the coast of Montauk Point and 2 miles south of Block Island, R.I. as seen in 2016. Photo Credit: AllislandAerial.com/Kevin P. Coughlin

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to increase funding for environmental projects such as Long Island’s fledging offshore wind farm industry was inspired by witnessing toxic pollutants contaminate her native Buffalo as a child.

The governor recalled the pollution in her Western New York hometown while touting a proposed budget increase to help fund wind farms and other clean energy projects that she said will help combat climate change that is fueling extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

“I grew up near a steel plant, I saw what happened,” Hochul told local leaders Friday during the Long Island Association’s annual State of the Region event. “I didn’t even know the sky was blue. The sky was always orange. I saw Lake Erie become a dumping ground for what looked like lava coming out of this plant. I lived in a toxic dump. So environmental issues are personal to me. It’s amazing I’m still alive.”

Hochul recently unveiled in her first State of the State address her plan to ask voters on November ballots to approve a proposition to increase the Environmental Bond Act from $3 billion to $4 billion. Her budget also includes a $500 million increase to support the offshore wind industry through port infrastructure and other improvements.

South Fork Wind, which has been billed as the state’s first offshore wind project, recently received federal approval and crews are expected to soon begin on-shore work before building a dozen turbines 30 miles off the coast of Montauk. But some Wainscott residents are asking a court to halt construction in a bid to have the cable come ashore someplace other than a residential neighborhood. The project is the first of several planned for off the coast of LI.

“We are going to make sure that we lead the nation in clean energy,” Hochul said. “This is the epicenter.”

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