As New York State marks the 30th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), this crucial source of capital funding for environmental projects remains a top agenda item for the New York League of Conservation Voters.
NYLCV supports the current funding which stands at $400 million annually, while we urge the legislature to reject Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent budgetary proposal to take money from the EPF to pay for staffing. We also urge the legislature and the governor to work towards increasing annual funding to $500 million next fiscal year.
As climate change gets worse and our environmental needs increase, and as we strive for carbon neutrality, we need more funding, not less, to pay for essential environmental projects.
NYLCV “strongly opposes the proposal to offload funds from the Environmental Protection Fund in order to pay for some portion of new staff,” NYLCV Policy Director Patrick McClellan said in his recent testimony to the Joint Committee on Environmental Conservation’s hearing on the executive Budget. “The EPF is not meant to be used for the State’s personnel costs and every dollar taken out of it means one less dollar funding an important environmental project somewhere in the state. We urge you to reject this misguided raid on the EPF as you have on many occasions in the past.” NYLCV also opposes cuts to the municipal recycling and Climate Smart Communities lines within the EPF. These are two budget lines that are oversubscribed and completely spent every year. Given the importance that these lines can play in achieving the CLCPA’s goals and supporting local recycling, if anything they should be increased.
Since the EPF was started in 1993, more than $4.3 billion has been appropriated for environmental projects, and more than $3.3 billion has been disbursed. EPF projects combine EPF grants with other funding sources that require matching dollars. Project examples include conserving farmland, restoring wildlife habitats, controlling invasive species, upgrading municipal sewage treatment plants, cleaning up waterfront property, creating public parks, helping businesses develop recycling programs and assisting with land purchases for preservation purposes.
“The EPF allows us to protect our clean drinking water and air, [protect] parks and state lands, undertake programs that reduce pollution, fight invasive species, and attract tourism and businesses,” the non-profit Adirondack Council said in a release. “A robust EPF allows New Yorkers to set an example for other states to prioritize environmental protection.”
NYLCV agrees. The EPF needs more money, not less.