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Scenic Hudson Praises Gov. Cuomo for 2018 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 are his ongoing commitment to protect the Hudson River against toxic PCBs that have been the subject of an ongoing federal Superfund cleanup, an aggressive climate change policy to reduce greenhouse emissions, build a resilient future against the impacts of severe storm events and create a new program to enhance energy efficiency, and invest in the revitalization of the Hudson Valley’s cities to bolster the regional economy and support smart, downtown-centered development.

These new initiatives build on unprecedented levels of resources in his 2016 and 2017 state budgets dedicated to investing in water and wastewater infrastructure to ensure a swimmable and drinkable Hudson River, protecting the farms that supply our communities with fresh and local food, and advancing plans to create the Empire State Trail, which will link New York City with the Canadian border, with critical components in the Hudson Valley.

Several of the governor’s 2018 policy initiatives will have a direct effect on the quality of life and environmental integrity of the Hudson River Valley:

In his 2nd State of the State proposal announced in early December, Gov. Cuomo cited that he and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will take immediate action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if it accepts the Upper Hudson River dredging of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as complete. Scenic Hudson has led the charge to convince the EPA that the Hudson River Superfund cleanup is not complete, and that additional dredging is needed to protect public health and the environment.

The governor’s 3rd State of the State proposal continued the $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative awards, a comprehensive, multi-agency approach to transform vulnerable, vacant or forgotten areas of the state into livable, walkable, dynamic neighborhoods. The cities of Kingston and Hudson each received a $10 million award in 2016 and are working to implement locally-driven strategies with these new resources. This initiative advances the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s strategic plan, which includes making downtowns and waterfronts better places for Hudson Valley residents to live, work and play.

The governor’s 9th State of the State proposal called on the state to divest in entities with significant fossil fuel-related activities and develop a de-carbonization plan for divesting in fossil fuel. Citing that the future of the environment, the future of our economy and the future of our children all depend on a clean energy economy, the governor also rolled out his 20th State of the State proposal, a comprehensive agenda to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing the clean energy economy. This initiative recommits the governor to providing state and national leadership on the global climate crisis by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, siting renewable energy generation facilities, and investing in transmission lines for new energy. Scenic Hudson has been an advocate for developing the state’s clean energy infrastructure in a way that eliminates or minimizes damage to natural resources and the character of local communities. It anticipates releasing a guide for local decision makers to accomplish this in the spring of 2018. The governor’s climate agenda also called for creating a scientific advisory committee on climate change, and creating new programs to increase energy efficiency.

The governor’s 17th State of the State proposal calls for $34 million to modernize, expand and rebrand Stewart International Airport, including installation of solar carport photovoltaic systems at airport parking lots. Scenic Hudson commends the governor for his vision in transforming this regional and state transportation hub, and is committed to working with partners to ensure that any new development is consistent with state-of-the-art land use and climate-related policies.

Responding to Gov. Cuomo’s address, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Governor Cuomo has courageously made cleanup of toxic PCBs from the Hudson River a major provision of his policy agenda for the year ahead. I thank the governor, as well as members of Congress, for their vigilance on this important issue, and commitment to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to get the best decision in the EPA’s 5 Year Review of the cleanup that calls for additional dredging, and also a decision to deny GE’s request for a Certificate of Completion for its cleanup efforts to date.”

Mr. Sullivan added, “The risks posed by climate change represent the greatest existential threat to the environment, our way of life, and economic future than any other in this time. Scenic Hudson has been a leader working with local communities to help them adapt to rising sea levels and the increased severity and frequency of floods, and we are on the cusp of releasing a visionary guide to siting renewable energy facilities in the Hudson Valley. Governor Cuomo’s climate agenda remains one of the strongest in the nation, and I am pleased that he is taking steps to proactively lower our carbon footprint by making strategic investments in our downtown centers and in transportation infrastructure, encouraging siting of renewable energy generation facilities, eliminating coal as an energy source, as well as developing a new energy efficiency plan. Greenhouse gas emissions due to the transportation sector are one of the biggest offenders that must be addressed.

“Environmental protection and economic development go hand in hand in the Hudson Valley, as evidenced by the contribution of natural resources to the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s award-winning strategic plan. The governor’s State of the State message affirmed the effectiveness of the REDC program and made a recommitment to the Downtown Revitalization Initiative program. Walkable and bikeable downtown centers are a necessary part of the Hudson Valley’s future, both to attract new residents and to reduce carbon emissions. I look forward to continuing to support these initiative through my role on the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.”

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson helps citizens and communities preserve land and farms and create parks where people experience the outdoors and enjoy the Hudson River. We also bring together people, businesses and government to protect the river and natural resources that are the engines of the valley’s local economies. Started in 1963 by a handful of citizens who cherished the simple pleasures of the outdoors along the Hudson, Scenic Hudson is credited with launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today, in the face of new challenges and the effects of climate change, we are dedicated to making the Hudson Valley a great place to live, work and play. Our focus is on strengthening and maximizing benefits all can enjoy from the region’s great assets—beautiful open spaces, working farms, and vibrant cities and town centers.