Even though this is a rough budget season, full of expected cuts as the state stares down a potential $15 billion budget hole, things are looking bright for environmental advocates.
The New York State Senate included a host of environmentally friendly bills in the the state budget agreement.
This includes the much anticipated $3 billion environmental bond act, which will need to be approved by voters in November. The Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, provides resources to address issues that have arisen due to climate change, such as revitalizing fish and wildlife habitats, restoring wetlands and more.
“Given the challenges the Governor and Legislature are facing with the coronavirus outbreak, this is a very good budget for the Adirondacks,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway. “We understand that there may still be some need to economize as state revenues may be affected by the current public health crisis. This budget recognizes that clean water, open space, wildlife and a healthy environment remain priorities no matter what other challenges we are facing."
A permanent ban on fracking was also included in the Senate TED budget bill. While groups like NYPIRG applauded this effort, they also are encouraging the Legislature to close the "dangerous hazardous waste loophole."
"The work cannot end here," urged Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director for NYPIRG. "The Legislature needs to come back and do more. New Yorkers are counting on the Governor and the Legislature to take further action on climate, reduce plastic pollution, and protect water quality.”
These budget bills also include a ban on single use foam food containers and packing peanuts that contain polystyrene. This was a big one for restaurant advocates that have warned that this might place an additional strain on small businesses.
Also included in recently passed Senate budget bills: $500 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act which will go to improving access to clean water and improve water quality, and a bill that will address overuse of the High Peaks Wilderness Area and other popular destinations.
These budget bills are expected to pass the State Assembly as well.