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Scenic Hudson Praises Gov. Cuomo for 2017 Environmental Policy Priorities

Ned Sullivan, Scenic Hudson President, 914 489 4630
Andy Bicking, Scenic Hudson Director of Public Policy & Special Projects, 914 489 1568

HUDSON VALLEY, N.Y.—Scenic Hudson applauds Gov. Andrew Cuomo for continuing to build on his strong environmental leadership in priorities he outlined in today’s State of the State address. Chief among these is an unprecedented investment in water and wastewater infrastructure in the Hudson Valley and other parts of the state, and a renewal of a $300-million investment in the annual appropriation for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The governor also proposed creation of the Empire State Trail, linking the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail and Erie Canalway Trail, to extend recreational opportunities from New York City to destinations in western New York. The governor’s leadership is further demonstrated through his plans to close the Indian Point nuclear plant by 2021, make reductions in greenhouse gases and install more than 500 new charging stations throughout the state to promote electric vehicle use.

Gov. Cuomo’s investment to safeguard drinking water will be used to fund filtration systems, fix deteriorating pipes and protect water sources. His commitment to a $300-million EPF, consistent with last year’s appropriation—the highest in the fund’s history—will support collaborative efforts by municipalities and conservation groups to protect land, create parks and revitalize waterfronts. These conservation initiatives build on the governor’s unprecedented commitment to protecting working farms in the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program, which was included in the 2016 budget, enabled land trusts, county and local governments, and farmers to permanently protect more than 5,600 acres on 28 of the region’s food-producing farms.

To create the Empire State Trail, Gov. Cuomo proposes a $53-million appropriation in the upcoming budget, a down payment on the project’s overall $200-million cost. Roughly half of the proposed funding would be spent in the next year to complete portions of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail System, multi-use trails on both shores of the river whose routes extend from Manhattan to the northern borders of Washington and Saratoga counties. The governor expects to complete the Empire State Trail by 2020.

Shutting down Indian Point will improve the safety of nearly 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius of the outdated plant as well as prevent its antiquated cooling technology from killing billions of aquatic organisms each year, a major factor in the decline of numerous important fish species in the Hudson River. And the governor’s commitment to lowering New York’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030 and providing additional vehicle charging stations furthers his national leadership in confronting climate change

“Governor Cuomo’s visionary Empire State Trail will unify New York State—from New York City to the Hudson Valley, Buffalo and Canada—like no other initiative. It will create endless recreational opportunities, attract tourists from all over the world, create jobs and enable our downtowns to thrive. Most important, it will bring together all the diverse people of New York in a community of shared purpose and prosperity. Scenic Hudson will work with the governor to make this dream a reality!” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.

Mr. Sullivan continued: “Governor Cuomo continues to build on his stellar environmental leadership with this investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. In the Hudson River Valley and other parts of the state, failing wastewater systems are a top source of pollutants, depriving people of the opportunity to swim and enjoy the inspiring experience of clean water; at the same time, drinking water sources are at risk. Governor Cuomo’s proposal will not only make a major investment in solving these problems, it will also create jobs and opportunities for economic development in our city and town centers.

“The governor’s success in negotiating the closure of Indian Point and his proven ability to bring partners together to implement Environmental Protection Fund grants represent new and important environmental milestones in New York’s history. Together, these actions will protect and restore the state’s natural and ecological treasures, and allow communities to take advantage of exciting new economic opportunities. Scenic Hudson looks forward to collaborating with the Cuomo administration to carry out these and other groundbreaking environmental initiatives.”

“Scenic Hudson celebrates the past year’s environmental achievements of Governor Cuomo and his agency heads—Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos, State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, Department of Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball, and Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. We look forward to working with them and the Legislature to see the governor’s 2017 priorities enacted in the budget—investments that will burnish the Hudson Valley’s reputation as an outstanding place to live, work and play,” said Scenic Hudson Director of Public Policy and Special Projects Andy Bicking.

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 65 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved nearly 40,000 acres.