Environmental Group Touts Cuomo Address as Smart, Responsible

Thursday, January 10, 2013 -- Scenic Hudson

Ned Sullivan, President, 914 489 4630 (cell)

Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy, 914 489 1568 (cell)

Hudson Valley Poised to Implement Climate Change Agenda

HUDSON VALLEY—Scenic Hudson today praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a forward-looking and responsible 2013 State of the State address that outlined key areas for helping New York State recover from Hurricane Sandy and prepare for future storms. The address also recognized tangible environmental strategies that can re-energize the Hudson Valley's regional economy and support critical industries like agriculture and tourism.

The environmental organization noted that the 2013 State of the State address delivered strategies vital to protecting the environment, safeguarding our communities and creating jobs, and that the governor's visionary agenda to promote public safety, the economy and the environment would be met with ready partners in the Hudson Valley.

Storm and sea level rise policies necessary to create resilient communities

Scenic Hudson's President Ned Sullivan, noted: "Governor Cuomo has cast aside the unproductive political debates about whether climate change is real. He has put forth a bold and balanced mix of strategies to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change. His State of the State address proposed lowering the cap on regional greenhouse gases—continuing New York's leadership on this model strategy for reducing harmful emissions from power plants across the Northeast. He proposed to fuel New York's economy with solar energy technology and cleaner cars. And his NYS 2100 Commission and State of the State address have outlined vital approaches to preserve wetlands and coastal buffer lands that absorb tidal and storm surges and protect our communities and infrastructure. Scenic Hudson and the Hudson Valley's public officials are poised to work with the governor to secure funding and begin to implement these critical strategies."

Mr. Sullivan explained that coastal regions—like the Hudson Valley—face challenging decisions on how to respond to storms, but that the governor's policies are focused and smart. "The governor is correct in promoting one of the key findings of the NYS 2100 Commission report—that we need a balance between armoring our communities against rising waters while at the same time making strategic investments in land and natural resources that will help maintain the natural function of the Hudson Estuary and buffer our communities against future impacts."

The governor's address and the NYS 2100 Commission report proposed making sustainable investments in natural resources and infrastructure following a comprehensive engineering survey of the state's coastal areas. This proposal is consistent with efforts underway in Hudson waterfront communities to revitalize local waterfronts and plan for sea level rise, according to Scenic Hudson.

"The governor has paid attention to what leading experts and scientists are saying—we need to encourage sustainable and green infrastructure that can work in combination with traditional measures to protect our communities from severe storm events, which are increasing in frequency. The Hudson Estuary has nearly 7,500 acres of wetlands that can contribute to this strategy if protected. We join Governor Cuomo in urging Congress to approve the full supplemental appropriation for recovery from Hurricane Sandy, including funds that can help in this context," Mr. Sullivan said.

Mr. Sullivan added that following Hurricane Sandy, his organization convened a public forum on related issues in Peekskill, Westchester County. The forum was attended by more than 100 concerned community leaders and residents. The City of Kingston in Ulster County also has kicked off a review of the projected impacts of sea level rise and has convened land owners, environmental organizations, businesses, religious organizations and others to troubleshoot and plan a sustainable response to rising waters.

Development of tourism and agricultural industries figures prominently

In addition to outlining his policies for climate change, the governor's remarks addressed ongoing needs to rebuild the state's economy. "The governor again demonstrated his savvy when it comes to economic development by noting the connections between long-term fiscal health and the environment," said Mr. Sullivan. He added, "Agriculture and tourism—causes that I have been proud to help advance through the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development strategy inspired by the governor and led by Lt. Governor Duffy—play important roles in our economic recovery."

Scenic Hudson has revitalized waterfronts, creating destination parks and attractions that showcase the region and has worked to secure the valley's agricultural economy by convening farmers and community leaders to safeguard working farms and other vital lands through conservation easements.

"The Hudson Valley's open spaces play a central role in the region's identity and can be leveraged to enhance our tourism and agricultural industries. We look forward to working with the governor and his team of environmental and economic development professionals to achieve this," said Mr. Sullivan.

Advocates praise State of State address, look forward to seeing state budget

Scenic Hudson Director of Public Policy Andy Bicking, said, "The governor's address laid out well-conceived strategies to help New York State respond to future storm events, conserve the state's natural resources and promote compatible economic development. We were encouraged to find mention of the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which funds capital improvements in the state's natural infrastructure, open spaces, farmlands, estuaries and waterfronts, in the written address. Scenic Hudson looks forward to building on the ideas proposed by Governor Cuomo and implementing real projects in the Hudson Valley that create resilient communities while protecting natural resources and enhancing access to the Hudson Estuary.

"We also look forward to seeing the governor's budget proposal and sharing our perspective about appropriate levels of investment in the EPF, as well as New York's natural resource stewardship agencies, that will be necessary to achieve this vision," Mr. Bicking said.