In the News  Archive

Green group pushes for renewed environmental spending

December 11, 2014
Press Republican

By Kim Smith Dedam

ELIZABETHTOWN — Environmental lobbyists at the Adirondack Council have repeatedly called for restoration of the Environmental Protection Fund.

They have been pushing the state for several years to add staff to both the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency.

The newly released DEC audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli backs up concerns raised by the council in recent years.

“We are troubled by the cuts in overall environmental spending by the state and impact of the cuts on staffing at the DEC, APA, Parks and Agriculture & Markets departments over the past decade," Council spokesman John Sheehan said via email.

"There is a need for additional personnel at all four agencies.

"As the economy grows, so will the need for people who keep our food, water, air and parks safe.”

The Adirondack Council says that diversion of money from the Environmental Protection Fund has stalled important clean-water and clean-air projects.

“That means we have to increase the size of the fund while also finding other means to accomplish a long list of environmental projects that can’t be put off any longer,” Sheehan said.

The green group has submitted specific budget requests for renewed environmental protections.

"Thanks to a $5 billion settlement with banks whose lending practices largely caused the recession, New York has money for significant investments in communities and clean water," Sheehan said.

"We have asked the governor to use at least $1 billion for clean water statewide and set aside $200 million for just the Adirondack Park.

"These water and waste-water treatment projects will result in construction jobs and long-term employment in communities around the Adirondack Park."

Here is what the Adirondack Council is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include in his 2015 budget:

• A dedicated $200 million for clean-water infrastructure in the Adirondack Park.
• A $200 million Environmental Protection Fund, as a step toward a fully funded program of $300 million, with $30 million for open-space protection; $10 million for a statewide boat-washing program to prevent invasive species; $25 million for state land stewardship; and $1 million for Adirondack smart-growth community planning.
• Funding for a 2015 New York State Ranger Academy and Assistant Forest Ranger Program.
• Restoration of six full-time APA staff to expand outreach and assistance to communities and applicants.

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