Ned Sullivan, President, 914 489 4630
Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy, 914 489 1568
HUDSON VALLEY—Scenic Hudson today praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Budget Address for taking a visionary approach to confront the major environmental challenges of our time. His Green New Deal boldy tackles the root causes of climate change and contains policy proposals that advance his strong track record in safeguarding water quality, protecting the agricultural resources critical for sustaining supplies of fresh, local food, and ensuring that the Hudson River and its waterfront communities have the resources they need to protect the environment while supporting economic growth. The governor also advances important statewide policies focused on reducing litter—by expanding the types of containers eligible for a return deposit under the bottle redemption law and banning plastic shopping bags.
“Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal puts New York in the forefront of protecting its citizens and addressing the most significant environmental threat we face—climate change. Scenic Hudson is proud to partner with the governor to advance his bold and visionary proposals,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.
“As a region, the Hudson Valley has demonstrated strong momentum to address climate change, support local agriculture and protect its waterfronts for public enjoyment. The governor’s Green New Deal sets important goals, like eliminating emissions from the energy sectors by 2040, and through a strong Environmental Protection Fund, it empowers local governments and non-profits to partner with the state to achieve them,” added Scenic Hudson Director of Public Policy Andy Bicking.
The governor has proposed $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which contains dozens of grant programs focused on climate change, open space conservation, parks and recreation, and solid waste management that help local governments and non-profits advance the state’s environmental policy goals. Scenic Hudson highlighted several EPF programs that will help meet the governor’s ambitious goals for addressing climate change, including a doubling of the state’s investment in the Climate Resilient Farming Program.
This investment includes funding to conduct a pilot study of methods to capture greenhouse gases on natural and working lands, making good on Gov. Cuomo’s promise when vetoing the Carbon Farming Pilot Study Act (sponsored by Assembly member Didi Barrett and Sen. Sue Serino) to advance such a study in this year’s budget. A report in the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last November showed that 21 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions could be captured in natural lands if they are properly managed. The Climate Resilient Farming Program will put New York State on the path to setting a goal for the sequestration of greenhouse gases in farm and forest soils, so it can take steps to make a meaningful contribution toward reaching this target.
Scenic Hudson also praised the governor for funding traditional conservation programs essential to sustaining the Hudson Valley’s outstanding quality of life and its ability to compete as a region. His budget proposes funds to protect working farmland from development so it can provide healthy food, acquire land critical to maintaining the natural beauty that defines the Hudson Valley, create a strong network of parks, and continue the work of the Hudson River Estuary Program so it can ensure that the river, its tributaries and its waterfronts are clean and productive. And to complement the Empire State Trail, he has proposed funding for a sister water trail that will link over 1,700 miles of navigable state waterways.
In addition, Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposal addresses the need to reduce carbon emissions from the energy, transportation, residential and commercial sectors. In particular, it recognizes the major obstacle that the slow Article 10 siting process presents to achieving the Renewable Energy Standard and invests resources to hire additional Department of Public Service staff to help address local concerns and get good projects approved. This builds on Scenic Hudson’s “Clean Energy, Green Communities: A Guide to Siting Renewable Energy,” which offers principles on which local communities can base their land use decisions when determining locations for solar energy projects.