Cuomo Promises a Dunkirk-Style Citizens' Fleet to Block Drilling

(Bloomberg) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to enlist a “citizens fleet” of leisure boats and fishing vessels to block any attempt to construct oil-drilling facilities off the state’s shores, as part of a broad attack on President Donald Trump’s environmental and energy policies.

“I’m going to commission a citizen fleet to stop it just as Winston Churchill did at Dunkirk,” Cuomo said, invoking the former British prime minister’s call for a seaborne operation of fishing boats and leisure vessels to rescue evacuating soldiers from the French shore line. He called Trump’s decision to permit offshore drilling “an unacceptable risk.”

“The only way you stop a bully is by standing up and putting your finger in his or her chest,” Cuomo, 60, said during a campaign-style speech in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park.

The governor, who’s seeking a third term and faces a Democratic primary challenge from self-described progressive and actress Cynthia Nixon, has also been mentioned as a potential 2020 White House candidate. He used the speech to deliver a broader attack against Trump and the Republican Party’s economic, environmental and social policies.

“They’ve attacked a woman’s right to choose; they’ve attacked immigration policy; they’re against diversity; they’re against the LGBT community; they’re against individual rights,” Cuomo said. “They’re against everything we hold dear.”

Cuomo touted a state-subsidized solar-panel manufacturing plant in Buffalo, which he said would be the largest in the U.S., as an example of economic-development measures to support renewable energy. He mocked Trump’s promises to return to the country’s dependence on coal and fossil fuels.

“We’re going to go back to fossil fuels, we’re going back to coal, we’re going to set up big manufacturing plants again,” Cuomo said. “You don’t politically assuage people’s anxiety by saying ‘don’t worry, I’m bringing back the old days, when you worked in the steel plant and you worked in the aluminum plant.’ The old days are gone; that’s why they’re the old days.”

The Trump administration policy, which would open 90 percent of U.S. offshore oil reserves to private development, has attracted bipartisan opposition from most of the governors of the 22 coastal states it would affect.

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