FY 2019 Budget Continues Historic EPF Funding at $300 Million—Highest Level of Funding in Program's 25-Year History.
Albany, NY - January 19, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced continued historic funding level for the Environmental Protection Fund, prioritizing record investments for the third year in a row. In the FY 2019 Budget, the funding is maintained at $300 million -- the highest level of funding in the Environmental Protection Fund's 25-year history. These major investments continue New York's national environmental leadership, and advance essential projects to protect the state's water, air, and natural resources and help communities capitalize on the economic returns of environmental funding.
"New York's environmental resources are among our greatest treasures, and it is critical that we do everything we can to preserve and protect our natural assets for future generations," Governor Cuomo said. "Our historic investments in the Environmental Protection Fund protect clean water, maintain the unparalleled natural beauty of our state, strengthen the resiliency of our communities, promote tourism and recreation and lessen the impacts of climate change. At a time when the federal government looks to cut environmental funding, on the 25th anniversary of the EPF, I'm proud to continue New York's rich history of preservation and stewardship."
Since established in 1993, the EPF has provided critical support to safeguard New York's environment for future generations. The FY2019 budget authorizes $39 million for solid waste programs, including municipal recycling programs, $86 million for parks and recreation, $154 million for open space programs, and $21 million for climate change mitigation and adaptation programs. In particular, the budget includes:
State Lands Stewardship is increased by $4 million which brings the total to $34 million. This funding is shared by OPRHP and the Department of Environmental Conservation to enhance public access to state parkland and undertake natural resource projects and increase the capacity of local partners to augment the state's efforts.
Another $8 million investment in Environmental Justice grants, supporting important efforts to improve the health of disadvantaged communities, reduce environmental threats and connect children to the states outdoor resources through the "Connect Kids" program.
The Local Parks/Historic Preservation Grant Program administered by OPRHP, which provides matching capital grants to local governments and non-profits, is provided level funding of $20 million.
A $3 million increase to Ocean and Great Lakes funding, investing $18.6 million in restoring the states coastal resources, and addressing new threats like Harmful Algal Blooms.
New funding for the Resilient New York program to undertake critical flood resiliency assessments to identify, projects to address flooding in communities.
$20 million for the Local Parks/Historic Preservation Grant Program administered by OPRHP, which provides matching capital grants to local governments and non-profits.
$13.3 million to continue combatting the threat of invasive species across the state.
A third year of funding to support the collection and disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals.
The $300 million funding level is more than double the $134 million dollar EPF the Governor inherited when he took office in 2011. Recent reports have shown that for every dollar invested in the EPF, $7 is returned in economic benefits.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "As Washington continues its attack on environmental programs and funding, Governor Cuomo has made New York a national leader in the fight to combat climate change and improve our air, water and vital natural resources. Environmental investments are investments in our economic recovery, and the Governor has rightly prioritized critical funding for projects that protect air quality, restore our water resources, conserve open space, promote and enhance recycling programs, protect our farmland, prevent invasive species from spreading and revitalize our communities, all while supporting thousands of jobs across our state. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EPF, Governor Cuomo's historic $300 million investment is making sure we'll have plenty to celebrate in the future."
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "EPF dollars are crucial to State Parks' work to protect and provide access to the natural and cultural treasures sheltered within our park system. I applaud Governor Cuomo's historic investment in the Environmental Protection Fund, which will greatly enhance our stewardship of the State's natural and cultural resources."
Created in 1993, the EPF was established to provide funding for the broad categorical areas of Solid Waste, Parks and Recreation and Open Space. The EPF funds land acquisition, farmland protection, waterfront revitalization, municipal recycling, local government assistance to improve wastewater treatment plants and municipal parks. Many EPF-funded programs support innovative programs to solve environmental challenges and benefit municipal partners.
The EPF also supports the stewardship of public lands, including state parks and millions of acres of public lands throughout the state. Through partnerships with volunteer organizations, state agencies use stewardship funding to manage trails and lands, protect natural resources, preserve wildlife habitats, make critical capital improvements at parks and campgrounds, educate students about conservation and provide access to persons with disabilities.