On April 1, 2020, the New York State Legislature included the Environmental Bond Act, also known as the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, in the 2020 – 2021 state budget for a total of $3 billion.
The Bond Act covers a wide range of environmental protection programs and initiatives including improving existing infrastructure to mitigate flooding, habit restoration, climate change mitigation, and increasing water quality. During the General Election in November, New Yorkers will be able to vote to approve the Bond Act, which would be hugely advantageous for sustainability and resiliency efforts in New York.
The current breakdown of the programs within the Bond Act are:
Restoration and Flood Risk Reduction: This goal of this program would be to improve infrastructure and protect vulnerable communities from flooding in the event of increased rates of severe storms. Floodplains and forest are essential natural barriers to mitigate flood risk and must be restored and maintained. Over the next decade, scientists have estimated $50 billion in damages from flooding, so reducing this threat is more important than ever before.
The total funding is $1 billion, which includes:
- Voluntary buyout program: $250 million
- Shoreline Protection: $100 million
- Inland Flooding and Local Waterfront Revitalization: $100 million
Open Space Land Conservation and Recreation: Open spaces and recreational areas are essential for New Yorkers to have access to green places within the city. Investing in hatchery improvements and enhancing public sites for recreational fishing is essential in increasing hatchery production. Additionally, this program will assist farmers in becoming more resilient in the face of climate change and help them to reduce their pollution.
The total funding for this program is $550 million:
- Fish Hatcheries: $75 million
- Open Space: $200 million
- Farmland Protection: $100 million
Climate Change Mitigation: The Bond Act prioritizes the fight against climate change and protecting New York against climate threats. Green buildings are a large component of this as they would reduce carbon emissions, decrease pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and limit energy use.
The total allocated funding is $700 million:
- Green Buildings: $350 million.
Water Quality Improvement and Resilient Infrastructure: Improving water quality and municipal stormwater systems will safeguard communities by increasing access to clean water and reduce public health risks. Every New Yorker deserves clean, drinkable water and this program will ensure that enhanced infrastructure reduces runoff from storms and controls any contamination.
This program is funded at $550 million:
- Water Infrastructure improvement act projects: $200 million
- Municipal Stormwater: $200 million.
Other projects: Another $200 million has been allocated for a variety of other environmental initiatives that will work in conjunction and expand upon the programs outlined above.
The Bond Act is a crucial piece of legislation for New York that encompasses many essential environmental programs. Together, these initiatives will reduce flood risk, increase public access to green spaces, improve fish hatcheries, help farmers, mitigate climate change, and improve water quality.