Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

Governor Cuomo Makes Huge Green Investment in New York State

The following article appeared last week on the Nature Conservancy website:

The Nature Conservancy in New York Celebrates Historic Environmental Funding Announced by Governor Cuomo in State of State and Budget Address

$300 Million for Environmental Protection Fund, $250 Million for Water Infrastructure, Capital Funding for State Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation Will Create Jobs, Benefit Future Generations
Albany, NY | January 13, 2016

Today Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State and 2016-17 Budget address, further detailed his proposals to make historic investments in New York’s environment. The Governor has included $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) in the executive budget.

“The Nature Conservancy congratulates and thanks Governor Cuomo for proposing an unprecedented level of funding for the EPF,” said Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer with The Nature Conservancy in New York. “This investment will benefit our economy, quality of life, and health of our communities today and for future generations by protecting our clean water, working farms and forests, parks, waterfronts and waterways. By conserving our natural resources we reduce risks to communities from climate change, create jobs and sustain New York as a special place to live and work for many years to come,” Gruskin continued.

Noteworthy EPF investments in this year’s proposal include a new focus on climate resiliency, continuing to restore funding land conservation, and increased funding for the Water Quality Improvement Program, State Land Stewardship Program and Invasive Species Program.

“Ensuring that New York is resilient in the face of a changing climate is one of Governor Cuomo’s great achievements, and with this allocation he continues that leadership,” said Gruskin. “The Governor has also provided New Yorkers with amazing recreational opportunities through his commitment to open space conservation, and The Nature Conservancy has been proud to partner with his administration to conserve important lands for future generations.”

In addition to his landmark EPF proposal, the Governor included in his budget a $100 million increase in grant money for waste water and drinking water infrastructure projects, growing the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015 program to a total of $300 million. This 3-year program was created in the last state budget and originally funded with $200 million. This $100 million increase will allow the program to meet more of the significant demand that exists for such funding. The first $50 million of grants from this program was released in December 2015 and leveraged more than $400 million in total project investments in communities throughout the state.

“The Nature Conservancy supported the creation of the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, and we fully support Governor Cuomo’s forward-looking proposal to increase that fund by $100 million,” said Gruskin. “This program provides communities critical grant funding to ensure clean water and effective wastewater disposal – necessary services for public health, safety and sustainable growth.”

In his speech, Governor Cuomo proposed landmark initiatives to mitigate climate change, further asserting New York as a national leader and transforming the state to a clean energy economy. In addition to a new program within the EPF to fund work to mitigate climate change and increase resilience of communities, Governor Cuomo set a goal of transitioning New York off of coal energy by 2020. This goal will help the state reach its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2030.

Governor Cuomo also continued his support for reducing nitrogen pollution on Long Island. The Nature Conservancy has identified nitrogen pollution of Long Island’s groundwater, beaches and bays as a top threat to the environment, public health and the economy of that region. The Governor’s budget proposal continues to allocate resources to address this issue, including the creation of a Island-wide nitrogen reduction plan and funding to transition properties currently reliant on septic systems to community sewage treatment systems.

“The Nature Conservancy congratulates and thanks Governor Cuomo for making historic commitments to New York’s clean water and natural resources in his Executive Budget Proposal, and looks forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to ensure that these proposals are enacted in the final state budget,” said Gruskin.

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