– Environmental Watchdog Points Out Missed Green Opportunities In Final NYS Budget

March 27, 2012

Environmental Watchdog Points Out Missed Green Opportunities In Final NYS Budget

ALBANY, NY (03/27/2012) – In response to the release of the New York State budget bills, Environmental Advocates NY released the following statement, attributable to David Gahl, Deputy Director:

“While the final enacted budget for 2012-2013 includes some green elements, Governor Cuomo and New York leaders missed the boat on two opportunities to help protect our shared environment. We look forward to working with the Governor and the State Legislature during the remainder of the Session to advance these missed opportunities.

#1: Ignoring Dr.’s Orders

By failing to support an independent health impacts assessment for industrial gas drilling called “fracking,” proposed by the State Assembly Majority and members of the Senate Minority, Governor Cuomo and the Senate Majority are ignoring the Medical Society of the State of New York, The American Academy of Pediatrics of New York State, the NYS Nurses Association, the Academy of Family Physicians of New York State, more than 250 physicians, scientists, and other healthcare experts and professional associations, tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and dozens of environmental groups who recognize the lack of such a study as a flaw in the state’s fracking plans. A full assessment of its health impacts must be completed before a decision can be made about whether or not fracking is permitted in New York.

#2: Nickels for Nature

Although state leaders maintained New York’s Environmental Protection Fund at $134 million, they failed to reach agreement on proposals to phase in unclaimed bottle deposits to grow the fund in future. Using resources from the state’s most successful recycling program to invest in our parks and forests, open spaces, and farms has widespread, bipartisan support in the both houses of the State Legislature.

Green Groups Block Bad Provisions

State leaders agreed to reject the following proposals in the final enacted budget, all of which had the power to undermine the state’s environmental and energy goals.

Restricted: By curtailing Governor Cuomo’s proposed ‘transfer language’ in the budget, state lawmakers prevented wholesale changes to New York’s environmental programs without legislative oversight. By specifying that the executive branch’s new transfer powers are limited to back office functions such as procurement, call centers, and IT, the Legislature denied the Governor the authority to single-handedly create programs, such as a program to allow industrial gas drilling called fracking.

Rejected: State leaders rejected a Senate Majority proposal to throw a lifeline to coal-fired power plants in the form of a long-term contract between the New York Power Authority and aging power plants in Niagara and Chautauqua counties. After working to clean up our energy mix for decades, keeping the coal fires burning would have moved New York backward, not forward, on the path to reducing the pollution that’s changing our climate.

Rejected: An Assembly Majority proposal to sweep monies earmarked for clean energy and energy efficiency projects through the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority was also rejected, keeping the state on track to further green our energy mix.

Rejected: In addition, state leaders rejected a Senate Majority plan to permanently extend tax incentives associated with the state’s broken Brownfield Cleanup Program. While incentives are needed to encourage the redevelopment and reuse of brownfield sites, they should be better targeted to benefit communities in need.

Environmental Advocates NY looks forward to remainder of the Legislative Session and working with the Governor and state lawmakers to protect New York’s natural resources.”