Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced that despite countless challenges due to this year’s devastating economic crisis, the 2009-2010 state budget keeps a strong commitment to protecting the environment by maintaining essential funding and enforcing tougher penalties and fees for polluters.
The budget includes $222 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) – $17 million more than the executive proposed – raised through the Real Estate Transfer Tax and other revenue sources. Included in that funding is:
- $60 million for land acquisition;
- $24.4 million for waterfront revitalization;
- $21.2 million for municipal parks;
- $17.8 million for non-point source water pollution prevention;
- $10.8 million for municipal recycling;
- $9 million for the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Program – a full restoration;
- $9 million for Water Quality Improvement projects;
- $5 million for invasive species management;
- $6 million for the Oceans and Great Lakes Initiative;
- $6 million for the Hudson River Park; and
- $450,000 for the Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors program at Cornell.
“From the Great Lakes to the Adirondack Mountains to Long Island Sound both residents and visitors enjoy New York’s natural wonders,” Jacobs said. “The Environmental Protection Fund was established to protect these resources in good times and bad because they are critical to both our economy and our way of life.”
Expanded Bottle Bill
The state budget includes an expansion of the existing Returnable Container Beverage Law to include water beverage containers under one gallon. This plan will promote recycling and help keep New York’s environment clean and litter free, said Jacobs. Box stores over 40,000 square feet will be required to have reverse vending machines, but small businesses would be exempted from the provision. This plan will provide much-needed revenues of up to $115 million for the state.
“New York’s bottle bill – created in 1982 and of which I was a co-sponsor– has been tremendously successful in encouraging recycling and reducing litter,” said Jacobs. “However, given the rising popularity of bottled water, our roadways and public spaces are still littered with discarded containers. By expanding the law, we will provide a financial incentive to recycle these items.”
Toughening Penalties on Polluters
The budget also increases air pollution fees, creates a surcharge on environmental violations and creates a wetland permit fee. There are also $5 million in fees for polluters through the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES), increased fees for commercial pesticide applicators (agricultural applicators would not be included) and increased permit fees for operators of mines over 20 acres.
Federal Stimulus Funding
In addition to the state’s funding, the federal economic stimulus package includes the following aid for environmental programs:
- $432.6 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which funds water quality protection projects;
- $395 million for the Low Income Weatherization Program, helping to reduce home energy costs for lower-income New Yorkers and train workers to weatherize homes;
- $126 million for the State Energy Program, which provides grants to states to address their energy priorities and program funding and to adopt emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies;
- $86.8 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which helps finance water system infrastructure improvements, and encourages pollution prevention in underprivileged communities;
- $75 million for nuclear waste cleanup;
- $31 million for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which helps eligible entities reduce fossil fuel emissions, reduce total energy use and improve energy efficiency;
- $10 million to fund state and private forestry programs;
- $9.5 million for enforcement and cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks; and
- $1.7 million to create clean diesel programs that improve air quality and protect public health.