Press Releases

Environmental priorities in Governor's budget plan could bring relief to the Adirondacks

ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. Kathy Hochul’s FY2023/24 budget proposal today included significant funding and policy proposals for municipal clean water and wastewater projects, environmental jobs training, an Environmental Protection Fund of $400 million, and “Cap and Invest” program expected to generate $1 billion for programs to fight climate change, the Adirondack Council said today. 

“We were pleased to see the Governor’s plan includes $2.1 million for the Timbuctoo Summer Climate Careers Institute,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “That was an initiative of the Legislature last year, so it means a lot to see the Governor making it part of her plan before the negotiations begin. That program will link the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry to students in the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. City residents who might not ever see the Adirondacks otherwise will have the opportunity to live and study here and explore career options such as climate science, forest ranger or wilderness management and protection.” 

Brooklyn and the Adirondack Park have a long history together, Janeway said. This is a new chapter. 

Janeway added that there were several initiatives aimed at rural populations that would help Adirondack communities and residents.   

“For example, the Adirondack Diversity Initiative would receive $300,000 under the plan, for important programming to foster a more welcoming and inclusive Adirondack Park,” he said.  “This funding is important to the communities, economy and the environment. In the past was a dedicated line in the Environmental Protection Fund.”  

Janeway also pointed to efforts to improve the availability of clean, affordable electric energy and broadband internet in rural areas; the clean-up of chemical contamination; improving food availability; promote affordable housing; and, provide technical assistance for planning and grantmaking as areas of the budget plan that could benefit the Adirondack Park’s communities and economy. 

The Adirondack Park’s two college-operated visitor interpretive centers -- at Paul Smith’s College near Saranac Lake and SUNY ESF in Newcomb – would receive the same funding as this year under the new plan. 

The Dept. of Environmental Conservation would be able to hire 231 new staff to administer the $4.2-billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act approved by the voters last fall.  It would also be authorized to hire 52 new staff for the Division of Air to work on climate programs as the state implements its first comprehensive Climate Action Plan.  Two other additional employees were recommended for the Division of Lands and Forests. 

“We still want to see the DEC double and diversify the Forest Ranger and Environmental Conservation Office forces,” he said.  “Both have hired more women in recent years, but both can do more to reflect the regional, racial and social diversity of the state’s population.” 

Janeway said he was disappointed to see no additional staff proposed for the Adirondack Park Agency, which administers a park the size of Vermont with only 54 staff.  

Brooklyn Connection 

Referring to the Summer Climate Careers Institute, Janeway noted that Timbuctoo was a “suffrage settlement” near Lake Placid where free Black men gained the right to vote in New York in the 1840s (by owning a farm worth more than $250). Many of those new voters were from Brooklyn. Some stayed and made new lives in the North Country. Some returned to Brooklyn but never forgot the Adirondacks. In 1894, Brooklyn’s Constitution Club helped to propose a Constitutional Amendment declaring the Adirondack Forest Preserve to be “forever wild.”  In another more recent connection, Dr. Wallace Ford of Medgar Evers College was a member of the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, which later became the Adirondack Diversity Initiative. 

Here are some highlights (quoted directly from the Governor’s budget briefing book) relevant to the Adirondacks: 

  • Clean Water Infrastructure Funding. An additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding is advanced, to bring the State’s total clean water investment to $5 billion since 2017. This critical investment in our State’s infrastructure will ensure New Yorkers have access to clean drinking water and will allow municipalities to invest in efficient and effective wastewater treatment strategies. 
  • Environmental Protection Fund. $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is again provided to support critical projects that work to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve agricultural resources, protect our water sources, advance conservation efforts, and provide recreational opportunities.  
  • Sustaining our Environmental Resources. $90 million for DEC to address a variety of capital needs to facilitate access to state lands, ensure the safety and durability of our state’s dams, rehabilitate campgrounds, and upgrade a variety of widely used recreational facilities. This funding will also provide critical repairs to other public property, including wetlands, trails, waterfronts, and fish hatcheries. 
  • Advancing renewable energy through the New York Power Authority. Unlock the New York Power Authority’s ability to capitalize the federal Inflation Reduction Act and help New York meet its aggressive renewable energy targets. Enabling NYPA to develop, finance, construct, own, operate, and maintain renewable energy projects; provide bill credits to electricity consumers in disadvantaged communities; phase-out of electricity production from its peaker power plants by 2035; and support workforce training for the renewable energy field 
  • Electrifying New York Houses. $200 million for NYSERDA’s EmPower Plus home retrofits program. This first-of-its-kind program will help 20,000 low-income families retrofit their homes by adding insulation, installing energy efficient appliances, and where eligible, switching from inefficient fossil fuel heating systems to clean, efficient electric alternatives. 
  • Making New York Buildings More Sustainable. Reducing emissions in the building sector by prohibiting fossil fuel equipment and building systems in new construction, phasing out the sale and installation of fossil fuel space and water heating equipment in existing buildings, and establishing building benchmarking and energy grades.
  • Implement the Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act. A statewide producer responsibility program that will transfer the responsibility of end-of-life management for packaging and paper products back onto the producer. This initiative will increase recycling rates, save local governments money, and protect the environment. 
  • Clean Up Forever Chemicals Initiative. A commitment of $60 million from the clean water investment to fund the first year of the Clean Up “Forever Chemicals” initiative. This new grant program will provide funding for municipalities to investigate and remediate sites contaminated with emerging contaminants like Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
  • Eliminating Food Scarcity. A commitment to addressing food scarcity in New York by providing a $10 million in grant funding to aid retail food stores in creating new access points for markets, shorten supply chains, and promote equitable food distribution. This new program will work toward the establishment of farm markets, supermarkets, food cooperatives, and other similar retail food stores, along with supporting infrastructure in underserved communities and regions of the state. 

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.  

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities.  Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340

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