– NY’s Environmental Protection Fund: Creating Jobs, One Buck At A Time

February 13, 2012

NY’s Environmental Protection Fund: Creating Jobs, One Buck At A Time

Advocates Descend on Albany to Urge Lawmakers to Maintain Environmental Funding

ALBANY, NY (02/13/2012)–Advocates, including two dressed as whitetail deer, descended on Albany to make one thing clear: New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is creating jobs, one buck at a time. Led by We Love New York/Friends of New York’s Environment, more than 100 individuals representing over 55 organizations from across New York are expected to meet with more than 90 members of the Legislature and the Governor’s office today to express support for the EPF and to urge lawmakers to increase the fund in the future.

The coalition will also share the findings of a new study showing that all New York’s economy receives $7 in financial benefits for every $1 spent on environmental protection. The study, which was conducted by the Trust for Public Land, was released February 9th. 

“Numbers don’t lie. New York’s Environmental Protection Fund is not only good for our air, land, and water, it’s a wise use of taxpayer dollars that’s good for our economy,” said Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY. “Environmental spending stimulates the economy, produces new jobs, and bolsters business statewide. New York can’t afford to pass up the seven to one return on EPF investments.”

Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2012-13 budget includes $134 million for the EPF–-the same amount budgeted in 2011-12. The fund accounts for about 1/10th of 1 percent of the state’s $132.5-billion spending plan. All participants in the lobbying effort gathered early in the day to hear from the two Environmental Conservation Committee Chairmen: Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, and Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo. The morning program also featured representatives of diverse organizations sharing “success stories” made possible by the EPF.

Organizations participating in the day’s events include: The Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Audubon New York, Environmental Advocates NY, Land Trust Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Farm Bureau, New York League of Conservation Voters, Open Space Institute, Scenic Hudson, Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy in New York, Wildlife Conservation Society, and many local organizations including community gardens, local land trusts, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

“Whether the fund is paying for a recycling center, improvements at state parks, farmland conservation or preservation of an historic landmark, the EPF is creating and retaining good jobs in New York State,” said Brian Houseal, executive director of The Adirondack Council. “Those projects require labor, construction, design, maintenance, plumbing, electrical work and/or long-term management. None of this work can be outsourced. The jobs and salaries stay here in New York.”

The EPF provides revenue for large, capital projects including landfill closure, recycling facilities, parkland acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species management, park stewardship and historic preservation. More than 90 percent of the EPF’s revenues come from a Real Estate Transfer Tax, which generated about $600 million over the past year.
In order to increase the fund in future years, the organizations said they would urge the Legislature to increase the amount of RETT revenue directed to the EPF, while also seeking the use of unclaimed nickels from beverage container revenues and public authority bonding. Bonding can rapidly deploy capital to EPF projects that await funding.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the Governor and Legislature to ensure that the EPF grows as part of New York’s economic recovery,” said Jessica Ottney Mahar, director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy in New York. “These strategies would steer funding to projects that create jobs, protect valuable natural resources, and enhance communities around the state.”

The Governor’s budget proposal incorporates bonding to fund capital projects at the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, through the New York Works Fund. Over the past decade the Environmental Facilities Corporation has financed about $400 million in bonds for EPF projects in place of cash which was at the same time removed from the Fund. The Legislature and three previous governors removed more than $500 million in additional revenue from the fund since 2003.

The We Love New York campaign is launching a series of new advertisements today, including placements on the Times Union’s Capitol Confidential blog and the weekly Legislative Gazette. The ads celebrate the range of EPF investments in various industries. To learn more about We Love New York, visit www.KeepProtectingNY.org.