Riverkeeper Reacts to Governor Cuomo’s 2020 Executive Budget
By CLIFF WEATHERS

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Cliff Weathers

ALBANY, NY and OSSINING, NY — January 22, 2020 — New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the 2020 Executive Budget proposal yesterday afternoon at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. In the address, the Governor outlined a bold environmentally focused budget that could have a positive effect on New York’s waterways, if implemented. Riverkeeper’s Legislative Advocacy Manager, Jeremy Cherson responded to several proposals, a $33 billion plan over 5 years to address climate change including a $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, Clean Water Infrastructure Act, Environmental Protection Fund, Reimagine the Canals, a statewide ban of polystyrene used in food service, a permanent fracking ban, and staffing capacity at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Clean Water Infrastructure Act

“We’re grateful for the additional $500 million proposed for clean water projects included in the budget but given the billions of dollars needed in upgrades, we’d like to see the investment increase. The Clean Water Infrastructure Act is one of the most successful and ambitious clean water programs in the nation. The $3 billion appropriations since 2017 have touched every corner of the state, bringing tangible improvements to water quality and drinking water through critical work that also provides an economic benefit. We look forward to working with the administration and the legislature to supercharge this funding line.”

Permanent Fracking Ban

“The grassroots movement against fracking is still strong in New York State. We applaud Governor Cuomo for proposing to make the ban on fracking permanent in law. This proposal, if approved in the final budget agreement will protect New Yorkers and our environment from the actions of a future administration.”

Polystyrene Ban in Food Service

“Riverkeeper is excited to support this proposal to ban Styrofoam packaging in food service and notorious packing peanuts. Styrofoam packaging is one of the most common items Riverkeeper finds along the shores of the Hudson River. New York City and other communities in the state have already phased out the environmentally damaging packaging, which is derived from fossil fuels, polluting our water and climate.”

Restore Mother Nature Bond Act and Climate Spending Plan

“We’re over the moon at the $33 billion plan over five years to address climate change including a $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. In addition to the bold clean energy initiatives, the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act can give New York’s animals stressed by the climate crisis and years of exploitation a fighting chance to recover and thrive. Nearly all the Hudson’s iconic fish are in serious long-term decline including the ecologically and economically important striped bass. State investments protecting vulnerable animals and their habitats also help communities across the region at risk from sea-level rise and increased flooding through projects such as wetland restoration.”

Reimagine the Canals

“The Mohawk River is the largest tributary of the Hudson River and supplies the drinking water for over 100,000 people. Yet, the Mohawk suffers from combined sewage overflows and underinvestment in recreational amenities, water infrastructure and habitat restoration projects. We are thrilled to see new recreational opportunities, wetland restoration, stream connectivity proposals included in the $300 million proposals for Reimagine the Canals.”

Environmental Protection Fund

“Riverkeeper appreciates Governor Cuomo’s continued support for a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund. We joined a coalition of organizations asking for an increase to the fund by $50 million this year, recognizing the immense work ahead to address the climate crisis and protect vulnerable species. There is no question that Governor Cuomo is prioritizing environmental and clean water programs in this budget, yet we hope to see an increase to the EPF in the final budget agreement.”

Department of Environmental Conservation

“We are extremely excited to see a $145 million increase in capital spending for the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Trump administration’s EPA and DOJ are hitting record lows in polluter penalties and enforcement, making state agencies an even more important watchdog in this era. However, the DEC has experienced significant declines in funding for personnel over the past decade, with some of the steepest declines in the Division of Water. This increase is a great step forward but we hope to see staff increases in order to support the increased workload for the agency in the budget language.”

SOURCE: Riverkeeper, Inc. | Cliff Weathers | Communications Director

 

eHeziRiverkeeper Reacts to Governor Cuomo’s 2020 Executive Budget
By CLIFF WEATHERS

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