While 2016 is less than a week old, Governor Cuomo has given us good reason to be optimistic about the year ahead. As part of Governor Cuomo's 2016 agenda, he recently proposed some critical initiatives to bolster New York's environmental legacy... Increase the NYS Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $300 million: No matter who you are or where you live in New York, the EPF has improved your quality of life. From Buffalo to Long Island, the EPF has been responsible for protecting clean water, improving air quality, creating jobs, conserving open space, saving family farms, bolstering recycling programs, revitalizing waterfronts, building community parks, enhancing zoos, driving economic development, and so much more.
Prior to the nation’s economic recession, the New York State Legislature passed legislation to mandate a $300 million EPF by 2009. Unfortunately, the promise was never fulfilled as EPF funding was cut significantly during the recession and has yet to recover. While the EPF has seen modest increases in recent years, environmental needs continue to outpace available resources. The EPF currently sits at $177 million. Governor Cuomo's proposed $300 million EPF would be a $123 million increase, and put the EPF at an all-time high. We want to thank the thousands of our members that have signed petitions and written letters calling for a fully-funded $300 million EPF over the past few months--this would not have happened without you!
Increase Funding for Clean Water Infrastructure: Aging and failing sewage treatment plants discharge raw sewage into local waterways, jeopardizing human health, closing beaches, harming fish and wildlife, and damaging local economies. Drinking water infrastructure is also in a state of constant disrepair, with communities facing ever-increasing water main breaks every year and numerous “boil water advisories” due to contaminated drinking water.
Last year, the Governor and Legislature agreed to provide $200 million over three years to help upgrade failing wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. To build on this, Governor Cuomo has proposed to provide an additional $100 million over the next two years. Given that New York needs over $70 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade aging sewage and drinking water infrastructure, increased investment is welcome news!
Confirm Commitment to Fund the Bay Park Outfall Pipe on Long Island: Long Islanders asked for an ocean outfall pipe for the Bay Park Sewage treatment plant for Christmas, and Governor Cuomo has delivered! The plant currently discharges sewage into the Western Bays and contributes to low dissolved oxygen levels, harmful algal blooms, and depleted fisheries on the south shore. A significant state commitment to fund the ocean outfall pipe guarantees that this project will move forward. That’s a win for our community, our bays, and our ocean.
Confirm Commitment to Address Nitrogen on Long Island: Septic systems across Suffolk County discharge excess nitrogen, which contaminates groundwater, degrades ecosystems, and threatens public health. Governor Cuomo has confirmed his commitment to ensure funding for an initiative to connect nearly 10,000 Suffolk County households currently on septic systems to state-of-the-art sewer systems.
CCE will be working hard during the upcoming legislative session to ensure that these proposals are enacted. Be on the look out for ways you can help!