March 27, 2012
Contact: Dan Hendrick, (212) 361-6350 ext. 206.
Critical issues include environmental funding,
mass transit, clean energy and air quality.
NEW YORK - New York State's new budget makes important sustainability progress, particularly in areas like environmental funding, mass transit, clean energy and air quality.
Speaker Sheldon Silver, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Majority Leader Skelos."Despite the state's ongoing fiscal challenges, we are proud to report today that the environment remains a high priority in Albany," said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Skelos, Speaker Silver and state lawmakers all deserve a round of applause for keeping environmental programs intact. Now, the emphasis shifts from the budget to legislative concerns like hydrofracking waste, water quality and solar energy, and we look forward to working with lawmakers to addressing these issues over the coming weeks."
Among the top sustainability initiatives in the new state budget are:
1) The Environmental Protecttion Fund. One of NYLCV's top priorities of the year, the EPF was maintained at $134 million in the final budget. Lawmakers dropped a proposal to increase the EPF by phasing in unclaimed bottle deposits, but NYLCV will continue to work with the legislature and Governor to see environmental funding enhanced in the future.
2) Mass transit. The final agreement includes a New York State contribution of $770 million for Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital projects in the 2012-2014 timeframe as well as approval of a $7 billion increase in MTA's bond cap. Although there are concerns about additional MTA borrowing, the need to keep mass-transit investments on track outweighs those concerns.
3) Clean energy. The final budget rejected an Assembly proposal to "sweep" up to $200 million in ratepayer-funded clean energy and energy efficiency programs administered by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority into the general fund. Investments in clean energy and energy efficiency reduce pollution and benefit New Yorkers by reducing energy bills and providing new economic opportunities.
4) Air quality. The final budget rejected a Senate proposal to delay the requirement that all No. 2 heating oil sold in the state have a sulfur content of no more than 15 parts per million. This particular oil is among the dirtiest: it is the second-largest source of sulfur dioxide emissions in New York and causes heart and lung illnesses.
For more ideas about how New York's elected leaders can improve the environment and transition to a clean-energy future in 2012, check out NYLCV's State Policy Agenda.
The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, policy-making and political action organization that works to make environmental protection a top priority with elected officials, decision makers, and voters by evaluating incumbent performance and endorsing and electing environmental leaders to office in New York State.