That’s a lot of $$ for a lot of pipes: Watchdog Report

What they delivered

Governor Cuomo and state legislators have finalized the SFY2016-17 budget, and we secured several new investments for our environment. Your advocacy helped push many of these initiatives into the win column – THANK YOU!

Making New York a Clean Car Leader: New York State is now on the radar when it comes to electric vehicles. For many years, the state lacked an electric vehicle (EV) rebate program, despite a goal of having 800,000 zero-emission cars on the roads by 2025. More than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions here come from the transportation sector. EV buyers will be eligible for a $2,000 rebate – a critical step in our #ActOnClimateNY campaign. Now our focus turns to ensuring that the full weight and muscle of NYSERDA – the state agency tasked with finalizing details – are behind making this program a success. 

$350 Million to Help Communities #FixOurPipes: Last year our coalition secured $200 million in grant funds, that would be distributed over three years, for drinking and wastewater infrastructure projects statewide. An aging and failing infrastructure harms public health and safety, and undermines community growth. This year we secured an additional $200 million, doubling the original program. This means that $175 million will go out the door both this year and the following. Many thanks to our great partners and advocates! We will now be working with municipal leaders to ensure they are able to access these funds and can get much-needed projects, which were previously stalled due to a lack of resources, up and running.

A Bigger EPF, with a Focus on Climate and Kids' Health: The Environmental Protection Fund has made your community better. It’s a program a lot of people don’t know about, but it supports local recycling centers, creates parks, preserves land, and much more, all while creating jobs and putting people to work. Following several years of advocacy, the investment jumped significantly, from about $177 million last year to $300 million this year – and that increase includes some exciting new initiatives to:

  • Keep e-waste from landfills;
  • Build out New York’s electric vehicle infrastructure with $250,000 grants for new charging stations;
  • Provide up to $5,000 per electric vehicle that local governments buy; and
  • Support the Centers for Environmental Health, a network of health professionals and institutions who provide expert care addressing issues like exposure to toxic hazards.

Unfortunately, the budget has some serious setbacks concerning clean air and our climate. Despite building a coalition that includes health professionals, implementation of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006 (DERA) – a now decade-old law to reduce diesel soot which triggers severe asthma attacks, lung disease, and cancer – was delayed yet again. Governor Cuomo and state legislators also enacted a job-killing raid on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the state’s premier carbon abatement program. RGGI has put thousands of people to work in the clean energy sector and helps working families lower energy bills, yet $68 million was pulled for such purposes as covering the cost of tax credits dating back to the Pataki administration. RGGI funds should be reserved for programs designed to move the state forward on climate action instead of funding dated programs that would otherwise be paid for with other sources. 

Boat sewage in the St. Lawrence River

The St. Lawrence is one of America’s great waterways. Millions live along its path and depend on the water it provides for drinking, fishing, and recreation. Unfortunately, boats are allowed to dump sewage into the river, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just announced that’s about to change. Officials have determined there are enough places along the river to properly discharge of this dangerous waste, and the EPA is accepting public comment on their plans to stop sewage dumping through April 25. We’re submitting comments in support and encourage you to, as well!

Are you a climate hero?

We want to hear from you! What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you drive an electric car, use solar panels or wind for energy, or take mass-transit, walk or ride a bike instead of driving? Share your story with us!

A swimming pool of chemical exposure

Last month, we published an OP-ED in the Albany Times Union on the need for Governor Cuomo and state legislators to focus, in the wake of the water contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls, on overhauling New York’s regulation of potentially hazardous chemicals. Right now there are more than 80,000 unregulated and untested chemicals flooding the market, which can be found in everything from our food and hygiene products, to our clothes and kids toys. America’s chemical policy of “it’s safe until someone gets sick” cannot continue.

Environmental Advocates is urging state legislators to hold hearings and to create an action plan that will prevent another Hoosick Falls. And it comes as issues of chemical policy are garnering national attention. For instance, a recent study from University of California - Berkeley has linked widely used pesticides with “decreased lung function” in children. Attention is also being drawn to a federal bill to regulate chemicals in personal care products; this piece notes that women use an average of “12 different personal care products each day, and men use six.” Yet not a single one of the chemicals used has been investigated by the Food and Drug Administration. We’ll be drawing more attention to these issues, as well as providing ways to get involved, in the months ahead!