Press Releases

Gov Hochul’s 1st “State of the State” Calls for Action on Climate, Forest Preserve Overuse, Clean Water, Equity & Green Energy  

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today praised Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first State of the State Address for focusing the state’s attention on the need to take action on climate, protect the Adirondack Forest Preserve from overuse, invest in clean water, and expand clean energy and energy conservation. 

“We agree 100 percent with the Governor’s bold statement that ‘we are in a climate crisis and we need to act like it,’” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “We were also reassured by her statement that she wants to invest in better safeguards for the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves, to protect them from overuse. Her emphasis on protecting wetlands and clean water will be good for the Adirondacks. Her support for preventing harmful algal blooms on major lakes is especially well-timed, as is her support for grants to help replace non-functioning wastewater treatment facilities – both public and private.” 

Janeway said he was eager to see the details of the Governor’s plans laid out in her state budget proposal.    

Among the highlights of the Governor address, as laid out in her State of the State briefing book include: 

Protect New York’s Forest Preserve Lands in the Catskills and the Adirondacks 

The Adirondacks and Catskills are unique and vital resources for New York. But since they are managed as wild forest lands, the Adirondacks and Catskills are even more susceptible to damage and deterioration from increased use. To preserve these state gems, Governor Hochul will leverage the Environmental Protection Fund to invest in helping New Yorkers enjoy the Adirondacks and Catskills responsibly. This investment will allow for critical actions designed to address overuse through comprehensive planning for the future, including trail safety and climate resiliency. It will also support stewards to engage visitors and the community to ensure that all of us can benefit from these shared natural resources. These actions will ensure the Adirondacks and Catskills are preserved as wild forest lands while still allowing visitors to enjoy their stunning beauty for years to come. (p167) 

Expand the Climate Resilient Farming Program to Better Prepare Farmers for Climate Change

There is increasing demand for climate mitigation, resilience, and adaptation options from New York’s 33,400 farms. New York State has provided funding through the Climate Resilient Farming (CRF) Program to assist 200 New York farms in reducing their operational impact on the environment and addressing the impacts of extreme weather events resulting from climate change. But the CRF grant program has been oversubscribed during its last two rounds by approximately 50 percent. To help farms adapt to climate change, Governor Hochul will increase funding for the CRF program and its associated supporting initiatives. This action will advance New York’s efforts to reduce agricultural greenhouse gases and advance on-farm and community-wide resiliency measures. Additionally, expanded CRF funding can help access key opportunities for mitigation, resilience, and adaptation beyond the program’s current offerings. These opportunities have emerged through evolving applied research funded through the CRF budget and conducted by the state’s land grant college, Cornell University. Establish the BIPOC Farmer Engagement and Outreach Program to Better Support Diversity and Equity in New York Agriculture Recent agricultural surveys have shown increases in the participation of women and Hispanic farmers, but a decline in Black farmers in New York. 

Consistent with our state’s efforts to address the underrepresentation of minority groups in many industries, and to dismantle barriers to social mobility, a long-term approach is needed to ensure diverse farmers are thriving in New York.  (p78) 

To better support diversity and equity in New York agriculture, Governor Hochul will establish the Black, Indigenous, and other People-of-Color (BIPOC) Farmer Engagement and Outreach Program, supporting the unique needs of BIPOC-identifying farmers and producers across the state.  
The program’s initiatives will include: • Taking input and feedback from the Diversity and Racial Equity Working Group established in 2020 at AGM, as well as other external stakeholders. • Helping to build an ongoing and sustainable relationship between farmers of color and AGM. • Providing a direct phone number and email address to connect with AGM staff to help navigate the various service providers and resources available to underrepresented groups in agriculture. This first step will help expand farming opportunities to more New Yorkers, especially those in historically marginalized groups.  

Expand SNAP Access to New York State Farms

New York will take a series of actions to remove barriers in connecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries with more healthy, locally produced food options. The State will become a national leader in facilitating SNAP EBT purchases direct from New York farmers online, clearing a major access hurdle. Additionally, SNAP recipients will receive a special FreshConnect benefit toward purchasing a food subscription from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. These initiatives will assist underserved members of the community in accessing wholesome fresh food, while also supporting farmers across the state. 

Fossil Fuels and Clean Air

Governor Hochul will further direct NYSERDA, DPS, and DEC to develop a blueprint to guide the retirement and redevelopment of New York’s oldest and most-polluting fossil fuel facilities and their sites by 2030. (p150) 

Through the investment of “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” funding, the enhanced Clean Green Schools initiative will serve more than 1,000 public schools, benefitting nearly 1 million students. The program will drive significant infrastructure upgrades, such as geothermal heating and cooling, solar, green roofs, indoor air quality/ventilation, electric school bus charging, and more, creating thousands of high-quality green jobs across more than 200 school construction projects. (p154)  

Invest $1 Billion to Support EV Adoption and Infrastructure

To meet our state’s Climate Act goals, New York must increase the share of EV sales significantly by 2030 — across the board. For light-duty vehicles (standard cars), sales must rise from 4 percent in 2021 to more than 90 percent by 2030. For medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (such as trucks), sales must go from less than 1 percent to at least 40 percent over the same period.131 New York will deploy $175 million over five years for EV charging stations through federal formula funds, with a focus on fast charging for light-duty vehicles along highway corridors. These funds build on $600 million for the EV charging make ready program over the next four years and NYPA’s up to $250 million EVolve NY program. This $1 billion-plus in funding will enable New York to put forward winning proposals to capture its share of $2.5 billion in additional competitive federal funding for EVs. (p158) 

Increase Funding for the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act to $4 Billion

To demonstrate New York’s ongoing commitment to the environment, Governor Hochul has proposed a $1 billion increase to the “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act,” which will bring its total to $4 billion. The Bond Act will be on the ballot in November 2022, which if approved by the public would boost funding streams for climate change mitigation, restoration and flood risk reduction projects, and other environmental protection programs.

Expand Community Air Monitoring Statewide to Improve Air Quality Disadvantaged communities are often disproportionately impacted by poor air quality, given their proximity to industrial emissions, power plants, transportation infrastructure, ports, terminals, and other pollution sources. To help identify areas of greatest impact and plan targeted interventions, Governor Hochul is launching a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive air monitoring program in disadvantaged communities across the state and has finalized the necessary agreements to begin monitoring air quality. (p162) 

Protect Wetlands That Clean Our Water Naturally

Wetlands provide a natural approach to flood protection and clean water, saving us money on hard infrastructure. Governor Hochul will propose legislation to expand New York’s wetlands program by improving mapping requirements and enhancing regulations around smaller wetlands. (p166) 

Combat Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Support Localities

Wastewater runoff contains large amounts of nitrogen, which is a major contributor to the formation of HABs. To address this issue, the Governor will dedicate grants for septic system replacements, since replacing inadequate septic systems can greatly reduce the amount of wastewater-related nutrients that end up in a stream or lake. Rather than just treating HABs once they have formed, these grants will enable a proactive approach to mitigating these environmental hazards before they start. (p166)  

Spur Further Investment in the North Country and Adirondacks Through ORDA  

First created after the 1980 Winter Games at Lake Placid, the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) continues to drive economic growth in the North Country and Adirondacks, working closely with local businesses to support the tourism and recreational sports industries. The state will provide additional support to expand use and enjoyment of outdoor recreational facilities in the Southern Adirondacks, with investments going toward the development of the North Creek Ski Bowl at Gore Mountain, amplifying year-round park amenities that include mountain biking, hiking, and sports fields. Plans include a new ADA-compliant recreation center and a new chairlift designed for 12-month use. (p92) 

Broadband Also a Key 'State of the State' Focus

Bring Affordable Broadband to New Yorkers and Transform the State’s Digital Infrastructure with over $1 Billion in New Investments 

Governor Hochul’s ConnectALL initiative will be the largest-ever investment in New York's digital infrastructure, transforming it so all New Yorkers have affordable, reliable broadband statewide. Catalyzing over $1 billion in new public and private investments, ConnectALL will provide affordable broadband access to New Yorkers in rural and urban areas statewide and continue New York State’s leadership on connectivity. In 2015, New York State made an initial $500 million investment with the New NY Broadband program — the largest state broadband investment in the nation at the time. Working through public-private partnerships, the program deployed more than 21,000 miles of fiber, providing access to 256,000 homes, businesses, and community institutions. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed that high-speed broadband remains too costly for many New Yorkers. Affordability is an especially steep barrier, often driven by lack of competition and consumer choice. Today, the average basic broadband subscription costs more than $50 a month, and nearly one-third of New Yorkers have only one provider option. Furthermore, equity remains an issue with Black and Hispanic households in New York more likely not to have a subscription than white households. Closing this remaining digital divide is critical, because having universal access to high-speed broadband in our digital economy is as essential as having heat, clean water, and reliable electricity. Connectivity helps New Yorkers go to school, work remotely, find a job, start a business, access healthcare, and communicate with loved ones. Further investment in this vital public infrastructure will not only strengthen the progress of our State’s initial investment, it will boost economic growth and local innovation far into the future. 

To improve broadband access and affordability for all New Yorkers, Governor Hochul will launch the ConnectALL initiative — a historic investment of over $1 billion into connectivity infrastructure that will position New York State residents and businesses to succeed in a 21st-Century economy. This investment includes a state investment of up to $300 million, boosted by $345 million in federal funding as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in additional federal funds from the IIJA. This initiative will be driven by a new Statewide ConnectALL office and will involve a dozen programs across three key areas of focus: capital investments, affordability and equity, and leveraging state assets, thus providing the nation’s most comprehensive and innovative approach to closing the digital divide. The ConnectALL initiative will include efforts such as:

  • Broadband Assessment and Interactive Map: The Public Service Commission is creating New York’s first-ever, in-depth interactive broadband map detailing the availability and reliability of high-speed broadband infrastructure statewide. Consumers will have the ability to search for providers in their area and see what plans are available for their address — a first-in-the-nation feature. Through field-verified research and with the help of internet service providers, the interactive map will demonstrate not only those areas meeting the State’s definition of served — download speeds of greater than 100 Mbps — but most importantly where the unserved and underserved broadband areas remain. 
  • Local Connectivity Planning Grant Program: This program will provide grants to municipalities and non-profit organizations for local broadband planning. 
  • 21st Century Municipal Infrastructure Investment Program: This program will provide grants to municipalities and other entities to plan, engineer, and construct open and accessible broadband infrastructure. 
  • Rural Broadband Grant Program: This program will provide matching grants — plus hundreds of millions of forthcoming dollars from the IIJA — to support rural broadband access, including last-mile connections and middle-mile projects. 
  • Connectivity Innovation Fund Program: This program will provide competitive grants to entities across the state to plan and construct creative, innovative, and new solutions that meet local connectivity needs. The state’s leading broadband experts will advise on these strategic and innovative investments to ensure the state leads the 21st-century connected economy. 
  • Affordability Program: IIJA provides over $14 billion to support a permanent $30 a month broadband subsidy for low-income households. Increasing enrollment in this program — which lags below 30 percent of eligible households in New York — will be an objective of the ConnectALL initiative and digital equity programming. • Affordable Housing Connectivity Program: Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) will include affordable internet in its overall housing plan. 
  • Digital Equity Program: Levering significant IIJA funding, ESD will lead the development of a statewide Digital Equity Plan in coordination with other state and local government agencies as well as private and not-for-profit organizations. 
  • A Build-Free Initiative for Rural Broadband Deployment: Governor Hochul will eliminate state fees for rural deployments where population density is too low to generate sufficient revenue to cover operating costs. Specifically, the State will exempt ConnectALL projects from use and occupancy fee for fiber in the State right-of-way, reducing costs for program participants. 
  • Streamline Make-Ready Processes: Governor Hochul will direct the Department of Public Service (DPS) to streamline the current make-ready process. 
  • Standardize Right-of-Way Access for Cellular and Establish Clear Timelines: Governor Hochul will establish clear timelines for cellular deployments on state land and rights-of-way with simple and standardized forms and processes. 
  • Leverage Existing State Fiber Assets: The state will conduct a pilot to leverage existing State fiber assets to support middle-mile broadband. 
  • Implement a Cellular Siting Guide for Local Governments: Governor Hochul will have ESD provide local governments with model siting requirements and master-lease agreements that can be adopted to facilitate cellular infrastructure deployments. 
  • Address Barriers to Serving Multiple-Dwelling Units: Governor Hochul will direct the DPS to review current regulations on agreements between broadband providers and landlords in apartment buildings to see if additional regulations or limitations are needed.

Broadband expansion and the removal of obstacles to progress were important themes in the Adirondack Council's 2021 State of the Park Report.

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 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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