Cuomo declines to sign anti-coal push

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ALBANY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the only governor among eight in the northerneast who declined to sign a letter calling for stronger pollution controls on nine midwestern and southern states.

New York supported the initiative, but state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens signed it on behalf of New York instead of Cuomo. The Democratic governors for Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont all signed the letter, which calls on the federal government to impose stronger regulations on coal power plants and factories.

Those states include key swing states in a presidential election including Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia. Others include Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. Republican legislators in a number of those states have pushed back against what they see as Obama's “war on coal” because of new federal regulations aimed at curtailing coal emissions.Cuomo also did not attend a press conference announcing the pollution control push, though he was in the District of Columbia for a campaign fundraiser and to meet with other Democratic governors.

According to Cuomo's publicly released schedule, he even appears to have had an opening at the time of the press conference, which pitted eastern states as being “downwind” to a solid chunk of midwestern states with more lax pollution control standards. Four governors, including Daniel Malloy of Connecticut, Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Jack Markell of Delaware joined the conference by phone or in person.

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A Cuomo spokesman referred comment to the D.E.C.

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a likely 2016 presidential candidate also did not sign the letter.

New York has four coal—burning power plants. Two of them, including Dunkirk in western New York and Cayuga in the central part of the state may be taken off line.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is expected to take up the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would force 27 states to limit the soot and smog that blows into the Eastern U.S.