Clean Water Infrastructure, the EPF, and NYLCV’s Other Funding Priorities In 2024

By Peter Aronson

It’s a simple maxim in government: If you don’t allocate sufficient funds, you can’t do what needs to be done.

That’s what we continue to face in New York State as we urge the state to approve funding and implement programs that will continue to keep New York a leader in fighting climate change. 

“Investing public dollars in our environment is essential to building a more sustainable and more resilient future for all New Yorkers,” the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) said in its 2024 New York state Policy Agenda. “Funding for environmental agencies must be increased to protect the environment, safeguard public health and combat climate change.”   

That’s never been more true than now as the League pushes Gov. Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature to invest sufficiently in our environmental future for 2024 and beyond. Unfortunately, Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget for FY25 took a step backward with a proposal to cut $500 million ($250 million per year for two years) from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and allowing up to $25 million from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to be raided for agency staffing.

[Tell Governor Hochul her cuts to clean water and environmental protection are unacceptable.]

One of the League’s top priorities for 2024 is the continued allocation of at least $4 billion in clean water infrastructure funding over the next five years, with $600 million in the 2024-2025 budget to reduce the backlog of water infrastructure projects. But the governor’s proposed budget takes us in the wrong direction. It will slow our ability to replace lead service lines, tackle emerging contaminants and ensure our waterways are safe and swimmable, while jeopardizing public health, the environment and the jobs created by infrastructure projects to fix our pipes and deliver safe drinking water to our families.

We also reject the governor’s proposal to reallocate $25 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to cover agency staffing.

“This is a dangerous precedent that amounts to a cut for environmental protection and climate mitigation projects,” said Julie Tighe, NYLCV president.

[Urge Governor Hochul to fully fund the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and EPF.]

As we push onward in 2024, in addition to fully funding the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the EPF, we will advocate for Gov. Hochul and the State Senate and Assembly to take action on several essential budgetary issues. These are our top funding priorities for 2024:

  1. Implementing to the fullest the 2022 $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act by expediting funding to the appropriate programs;
  2. Maintaining the Environmental Protection Fund at $400 million, on the path to a $500 million annual allocation—and without raiding it to pay for staff—to address significant environmental, land protection, infrastructure, and conservation needs throughout the state;
  3. Maximizing the programs and opportunities made available by newly created federal funding streams from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. These funds are essential for updating New York’s aging infrastructure and accelerating the transition to a just carbon-free economy, including funding for EV charging infrastructure and modernized electric transmission;
  4. Identifying existing revenue streams and plan for new revenue streams to support the implementation, promotion and understanding of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Ensure that at least 35% of CLCPA investments benefit disadvantaged communities, with a goal of at least 40% of the investments benefiting those communities;
  5. Adopting expeditiously the Cap-and-Invest program regulations to ensure New York meets the CLCPA’s statewide emission limits and provide funding to implement other programs to reduce emissions consistent with the 2022 Scoping Plan. Program regulations should prioritize emission reductions and investments in disadvantaged communities in accordance with CLCPA requirements and the Scoping Plan and provide rebates to mitigate increased costs to low and moderate-income households;
  6. Redirecting spending from tax benefits and expenditures that benefit fossil fuels to programs that will accelerate the transition to net carbon neutrality by 2050;
  7. Supporting the increased hiring of new staff at key agencies to help ensure effective operations and achieve measurable outcomes for environmental policies at the agencies charged with protecting and preserving the environment and public health and with implementing the CLCPA. Such agencies include the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Department of Public Service (DPS), the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) the Department of Agriculture & Markets (DAM), the Department of Health (DOH), the Adirondack Park Agency, and the Department of State (DOS);
  8. Ensuring full funding for mass transit capital and operating needs throughout the state, including the state’s portion of the historic 2020-2024 MTA Capital Plan. Ensure that dedicated transit funds are not diverted to the General Fund or used for other purposes;
  9. Implementing the New York metropolitan region congestion pricing plan, as approved by the MTA Board in December 2023, with a robust public education campaign. Ensure that the required mitigations in environmental justice communities, such as planting more trees along roadways, investing in clean truck fleets, and installing air filters in schools near highways, are implemented in a timely manner;
  10. Allocating sufficient funds to improve and expand public transit in the Hudson Valley and the Central, Western, and Northern areas of NY;
  11. Ensuring full funding and the timely completion of Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway and the community vision enhancements to 125th Street transit hub to increase subway ridership and better connect uptown to mid- and lower-Manhattan;
  12. Using the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction proceeds exclusively for clean energy and energy efficiency projects and programs;
  13. Allocating funding to create a state rebate program for the private purchase of eligible pedal-assist e-bikes and e-scooters to help incentivize the transportation mode shift;
  14. Supporting state and local resilience planning by developing a statewide resilience plan and increasing investments in the Climate Smart Communities program; and
  15. Supporting funding for retraining and upskilling for green jobs.

Without proper funding, the state cannot implement the programs needed to protect the environment and public health and to adequately fight climate change. We urge everyone to reach out to Gov. Hochul and their state representatives in the coming weeks and months to emphasize support for our budgetary priorities.

01.22.24 // AUTHOR: Devin Callahan //