The Fate of a Rare White Deer Herd: Watchdog Report

Protecting the Seneca White Deer

"They're a huge tourist attraction," said Lisette Wilson, who runs a farm store and bakery with her husband across the highway from the depot fence.

A decommissioned Army depot in Seneca County has become the unlikely home of 200 deer that have a rare recessive gene that makes their fur white. Growing in number over many years, the thousands of fenced acres have been a shelter from predators.

There are efforts underway, however, to sell the land – and with the likely removal of the fence, the herd is not expected to survive given how difficult it is for them to hide.
A coalition has formed to protect the Seneca white deer by preserving this land and expanding upon an already growing eco-tourism industry in the community. Because of their rarity, Environmental Advocates proudly supports maintaining the land in its current form, and we are urging people to contact the Seneca County Board of Supervisors and urge them to “VOTE YES on depot takeover” when a resolution comes before them on February 9.

You can email or attend the 6PM meeting at 1 DiPronio Drive, 3rd floor, Waterloo, NY.

10 Public Officials to Watch in 2016

“...the success or failure of many critical initiatives rests on her

Environmental Advocates has a new blog post in which, in no particular order, we provide an overview of the 10 officials statewide – including state legislators, Cuomo administration officials, U.S. Representatives, and others – who have the potential to make a big impact in 2016 for New York’s environment. Take a read and let us know what you think!

An Environmental Budget Overview

Last month, Governor Cuomo released his proposed budget for the 2016-17 State Fiscal Year. As the only organization that analyzes the budget through a green lens, we have identified some positive policy proposals that would help to protect our environment and public health. However, there are also aspects of the Governor’s proposal that would take New York in the wrong direction by making it harder for New York to achieve its climate and clean energy goals.

The budget adds new resources to #FixOurPipes and the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), as well as supports full implementation of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006. This is great news, although we are urging some tweaks to ensure long-term funding for the EPF (see our Poughkeepsie Journal letter), and for the Legislature to identify additional resources for drinking and wastewater infrastructure.

Unfortunately, in his budget, Governor Cuomo also proposed another raid on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – the state’s premier carbon abatement program – to cover General Fund expenses such as tax credits, many of which pre-date RGGI’s existence. For New York to be a true climate action leader, we need new programs and innovations that move us toward a cleaner future, not raids. 

The Governor has also proposed using $340 million to subsidize Thruway driving and the unhealthy smog, soot, and climate pollution associated with gasoline and diesel. We believe those funds are better spent going to immediate clean water infrastructure needs or creating incentives for electric vehicle puchases . Read the testimony our Peter Iwanowicz provided to legislators. You can also check out this interview of what the budget means for the environment (as well as the water crisis happening in Hoosick Falls).

We recently posted our 2016 policy priorities, which outline what we will focus on this year in our mission to protect New York's air, land, water and wildlife and to create healthy communities. The Climate Protection Act is just one of the many issues we will be working on. This new bill would set legally binding clean energy and climate goals from the 2015 State Energy Plan, and require all state agencies and local governments to screen every decision against a climate, social justice, and workforce development “test.”

A Budget that Protects Kids with Asthma

In 2006, when the Legislature passed – and then-Governor Pataki signed into law – the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) was seen as a striking benefit for public health and a boon to the Upstate manufacturing sector.

Diesel emissions are linked to a number of health ailments, including lung cancer, premature deaths, asthma attacks, and more. 

DERA is simple: make New York’s fleet of diesel vehicles (and those of its contractors) cleaner by installing filters to reduce tailpipe pollution or retiring old dirty diesels. All vehicles and contractors were to be in compliance by 2010, but it remains an elusive goal because state Senators – including many of the same ones who originally praised its passage – are delaying it from being fully implemented.

The Acting DEC Commissioner told legislators at the environmental budget hearing last week that as of now, the State fleet is about 80 percent in compliance, and that figure is far lower for contractors. Your advocacy is critical to ensure that DERA is finally enforced in 2016 – if you haven’t already taken action, please tell Governor Cuomo and your state legislators to protect kids and public health by fully implementing DERA!

Community Applications for 2nd Round of #FixOurPipes Grants

“Pipes are easy to take for granted — they're under the ground. But their condition is the linchpin to our public health and economic development efforts.”
Due to the incredibly high demand for state grants to meet our communities’ drinking and wastewater needs, as well as increased attention to clean water infrastructure as a result of Troy’s massive water main break, and the crisis in Flint, Michigan, the state Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) recently decided to early-release applications for 2016-17 funding. Although we know the state will offer $75 million for the next round of grants, we are continuing our fight for more funding in the state budget and are working with legislators to see this figure increased significantly.

EFC will hold an informational webinar for community leaders on February 24th (register now) and application materials can be found online.