In the News  Archive

New York Environmental Protection Fund to nearly double to $300 million

Times Union
January 5, 2016

A host of environmental groups heaped effusive praise on Gov. Andrew Cuomo for announcing plans Tuesday to dramatically increase the state Environmental Protection Fund from $177 million to $300 million in his proposed budget, due this spring.

And unlike the current fund, the expanded EPF will not spark a repeat of last year's fiscal raid on the state's climate change Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a move that drew widespread criticism from environmental groups at the time.

In an announcement in Long Island, the governor promised "big investments that will protect the environment and make our communities cleaner, greener and more resilient for generations to come." The extra cash will come from "traditional funding sources," according to a statement from the governor's press office.

Created in 1993, the fund is used to help support land acquisition, farmland protection, waterfront revitalization, municipal recycling and local government assistance to improve wastewater treatment plants and municipal parks.

After several years of budget cuts, the fund had dropped to a low of $134 million when Cuomo took office in 2011. While the governor gradually grew the fund to $177 million this year, he drew criticism from environmental groups for taking $41 million from the RGGI program to support the fund.

RGGI collects money on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and uses it to support alternative energy and efficiency programs.

Praise for the planned EPF funding increase came from a variety of environmental groups, including Riverkeeper, Protect the Adirondacks, Adirondack Council, Lake George Association, Audubon New York, Environmental Advocates of New York, Scenic Hudson, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and The Nature Conservancy.

"We are very pleased to see that the Governor's plan will nearly double the size of the Environmental Protection Fund, bringing it up to full funding for the first time in its history," Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway said. "Having a fully funded capital projects account for the environment will mean that the state can better protect wilderness, water quality and wildlife in the Adirondack Park, while also providing money for smart growth planning that will help boost the year-round economy.

"It also means the state can finally afford the $10 million program that is needed to fight invasive species statewide," Janeway explained. "We have been urging the creation of such a program for a long time. Large portions of the Adirondack Park are free from invasive species. This will help keep them that way."

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said the increase "should provide new resources for key programs to stop sewers from leaking, control runoff of manure into local streams, manage the Hudson River Estuary and support a number of other important clean water programs."

Last month, a coalition of environmental and business groups had urged Cuomo to boost the EPF. The coalition included The Business Council, The Nature Conservancy, Farm Bureau, Empire State Forest Products Association, and Open Space Institute

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