Cuomo proposes boost in state environmental protection fund
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday proposed boosting New York’s environmental protection fund by $123 million, increasing available money to buy land and conservation easements, protect farmland, fight invasive species and revive waterfronts.
The $300 million he’s proposing for the fiscal year that starts April 1 more than doubles the amount from his first year in office — $134 million in 2011. The fund has $177 million for the current year.
“New York’s natural environment is one of our greatest assets so we are stepping up to protect it like never before,” said Cuomo, a Democrat.
Environmental groups and the New York Farm Bureau immediately praised the move. Current funding includes $26.5 million for land conservation, $15 million for farmland protection, $14.2 million for agriculture pollution control, $8 million for water quality improvement, $15.3 million for solid waste programs and $61.7 million for state land stewardship, municipal parks, waterfronts and zoos.
“This big increase in Environmental Protection Act funding should provide new resources for key programs to stop sewers from leaking, control runoff of manure into local streams, manage the Hudson River Estuary and support a number of other important clean water programs,” said RiverKeeper’s Paul Gallay.
Jessica Ottney Mahar of the Nature Conservancy said Cuomo had committed to ending the sweeps of the fund done by Democratic Gov. David Paterson’s administration in the recession to use the money for other state spending.
Cuomo on Tuesday also proposed budgeting $250 million for drinking-water and sewer projects, with half going to municipalities this year and the rest in 2017. That increases the three-year grant program approved last year. So far, $50 million has been approved for 45 projects.
Cuomo has begun unveiling pieces of his 2016 agenda ahead of his State of the State address, scheduled for next week. He said Tuesday that he’ll support, with state and available federal funds, connecting nearly 10,000 Suffolk County households to sewer systems, a $388 million project. He repeated his support for building an ocean outfall pipe for a sewage plant in Nassau County to reduce nitrogen pollution.