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All Three State Budget Negotiators Move Toward Restoring the Environmental Protection Fund

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ALL THREE STATE BUDGET NEGOTIATORS MOVE TOWARD RESTORING THE
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION FUND TO $200 MILLION
Adirondack Council Praises Senate and Assembly Efforts to Restore EPF Funding

For more information:
John F. Sheehan
518-432-1770 (ofc)
518-441-1340 (cell)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Friday, March 14, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization today thanked both houses of the NYS Legislature for advancing proposals restoring Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) appropriations.

The organization urged the Governor and Legislative leaders to reach a final accord on a $200-million EPF as they set spending priorities for fiscal year 2014-15.

“All three budget negotiators have expressed a desire to restore some of the Environmental Protection Fund cuts made in previous years, now that the state has a budget surplus,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “The programs funded by the EPF protect clean water, open space, green jobs and healthy communities. EPF grants -- including grants to local communities -- help to stimulate the state’s tourism economy and protect farmland from development. Agriculture and tourism are New York’s top two industries.”

Janeway noted that the EPF was funded at $250 million as recently as 2008-09, but the EPF was cut deeply when the economy soured. It now stands at $153 million.

“We are encouraged by the Senate’s proposal to approve an EPF appropriation of $200 million,” Janeway said. “That is the funding level we and our partners have asked for. At the same time, we support the Assembly’s funding source for restorations to the EPF, which relies upon cash from the state’s budget surplus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a modest restoration of the EPF in his plan as well, so we believe he is also supportive of restorations.

“All of these are good signs,” Janeway explained. “It shows how everyone recognizes the importance of the EPF for clean water, the environment, and the economy. The EPF has made a positive impact in every corner of the state.”

The Senate bill adds $43 million to the EPF, using bonding. The Assembly proposal restores $10 million to the EPF, using increases in state tax revenues to cover the difference. The Governor’s plan restores $4 million, using money from the beverage container deposit program.

“We have questions regarding the source of the Senate’s new funding, which remained unclear as late as Friday afternoon. In addition, the Senate’s spending plan does not restore the EPF programs that were cut during the recent state budget reductions.” Janeway said the Council would support new investments for clean water infrastructure with new funds dedicated to the effort.

“All in all, this is a good start to the final negotiations,” Janeway said. “Everyone agrees the EPF should be restored to some degree. There is money available to restore some of the deep cuts suffered by the EPF during tough budget years. We urge all three parties to keep the momentum going and reach agreement on a $200-million EPF from a sustainable and appropriate source that doesn’t negatively impact other environmental programs”

The Council is one of more than 100 organizations that are members of the Friends of New York’s Environment Coalition, which is urging state lawmakers to boost the EPF to $200 million when it negotiates a final budget by the April 1 deadline.

The Adirondack Council is privately funded, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms, and vibrant rural communities. The Council carries out its mission and vision through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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