New York, NY - April 17, 2015 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proclaimed April 19-25 Earth Week, emphasizing the administration’s environmental commitments to New York’s natural resources, as well as promoting cleaner and healthier communities that are more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Beginning tomorrow, families are encouraged to participate in Earth Week events scheduled at environmental centers across the state.
“New Yorkers are blessed with some of the most beautiful and most scenic outdoor locations in the world, and Earth Week is a reminder that each of us has a role in protecting and preserving New York’s environment and natural resources for future generations," Governor Cuomo said. "Alongside the new reality of severe weather, it is more important than ever before to protect and make more resilient these parks and sites. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to these endeavors and encourage all New Yorkers to do their part to look after our environment."
Department of Environmental Conservation & Parks Hold Events Statewide for Public to Engage in Earth Week
The Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are holding dozens of events across the state in celebration of Earth Week. The public can connect to nature by partaking in hikes, observing natural wildlife, tree plantings and a variety of exhibits aimed at educating New Yorkers on the importance of sustaining the environment. A full list of family events can be found here.
“We all play an important role in preserving our environment and ensuring that future generations are able to enjoy the state’s vast natural resources,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens. “This week-long celebration is a reminder to us all that there are very simple things that we can do in our daily lives to sustain those natural resources. I encourage New Yorkers to take part in our many activities and learn different ways that they can give back to the earth in the process.”
“In this fast-paced, technology-driven age, it’s more important than ever to remember the importance of a healthy, sustainable environment,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “Every effort, big or small, counts. I invite New Yorkers to celebrate Earth Day by taking part in the many volunteer opportunities and celebrations of the nature that surrounds us at our state parks and historic sites, this week and throughout the year.”
Earth Week Commissioner Events
In celebration of Earth Week, state agencies will hold a series of events and make several announcements on earth-friendly initiatives. These include the following Commissioner events:
Monday, April 20
-Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens makes announcement in Westchester County
-Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York, delivers a keynote on the State’s ambitious clean energy agenda at the NY Power Summit in Manhattan
Tuesday, April 21
-Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey makes announcement at Bear Mountain in Rockland County
-New York Power Authority President & CEO Gil Quiniones and MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast make an announcement at Grand Central Terminal in New York City
Wednesday, April 22 Earth Day
-Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens makes announcements in Rensselaer County and at the Hand Hollow State Forest in Columbia County
-New York State Energy Research Development Authority President and CEO John B. Rhodes attends NY-Sun event at SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake, Sullivan County
-New York Power Authority President & CEO Gil Quiniones holds events in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Yonkers with the mayors of those cities to formally kick off the cities’ versions of the Five Cities Energy Plans. The plans are designed to provide a blueprint for how the cities can increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and achieve millions of dollars in annual energy savings
Thursday, April 23
-State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey makes an announcement at Robert Moses State Park in Suffolk County
Friday, April 24
-Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens hosts Arbor Day Celebration at Tivoli Park in the City of Albany
Key Environmental Accomplishments
New York State is committed to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state’s vast and magnificent natural resources, launching numerous groundbreaking clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change. Governor Cuomo’s key environmental accomplishments include:
-Unprecedented Investment in Clean Energy and the Environment: Invested more than $16 billion in environmental and clean energy programs during his first term for infrastructure, resiliency and clean energy programs, including the programs listed below. This investment is directly benefitting the state’s economy and is the boldest commitment to the state’s environment in any New York Governor’s first term in a generation.
-Increased the Environmental Protection Fund: The enacted State Budget includes $177 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, an increase of $15 million from 2014-15, and a 32-percent increase since 2011. The Environmental Protection Fund provides critical support for many environmental and open space programs that generate revenue and create jobs in many sectors throughout the state.
-Strengthened the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: As a result of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program’s continued success, New York was able to reinvest $556 million in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction proceeds by the end of 2014. This is expected to reduce carbon pollution by nearly 5.7 million tons over the lifetime of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative-funded projects, providing utility bill savings and other benefits to more than 130,000 households and 2,500 businesses across the State.
-Reimagining New York for a New Reality: Launched in 2013 and based in part on recommendations made by the Governor's 2100 Commission, Reimagining New York for a New Reality is a $17 billion strategy to transform New York's infrastructure, transportation networks, energy supply, coastal protection, weather warning system and emergency management to pave the way for a stronger and more resilient future. This includes using approximately $4.4 billion in flexible federal funding to enable homeowners, small businesses and entire communities to build back stronger and more resilient than before.
-Preserved open space: The State has permanently preserved more than 86,000 acres through new State Forests across New York, made additions to the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills and State Parks since 2011. The Governor also has increased the Environmental Protection Fund to enable more state purchases of open space in the future. Through the Environmental Protection Fund, the Governor’s budget has also provided the Land Trust Alliance representing the state’s land trusts, with more than $8 million, which has led to the protection of 13,500 acres of open space in every region of the state.
-Expanded outdoor recreation opportunities: There is $8 million in the 2015-16 budget for public access improvements to state forests, wildlife management areas and the forest preserve. It provides $4 million for improvements to fish hatcheries across the state, and establishes the Habitat Conservation and Access Account that will focus funds toward on-the-ground improvement for wildlife habitat on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Wildlife Management Areas.
-Transforming New York’s Parks and Historic Sites: The Governor’s NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. This year, $110 million is allocated toward this initiative.
-Preventing and preparing for potential crude oil incidents: Providing the necessary funding for staff and associated preparedness costs by increasing the Oil Spill Fund cap to $40 million from $25 million and allowing up to $2.1 million of the Fund annually to be used for prevention and preparedness measures. These changes support compliance with Governor Cuomo's Executive Order 125, which outlines steps the state is taking to improve oil spill response and prevention. In addition, the state budget provides for eight new employees at the Department of Environmental Conservation and six at the Office of Fire Protection and Control dedicated to oil spill planning, training and response. The budget also increases fees for oil transported through New York to 13.75 cents per barrel from 12.25 for oil imported into the state, and 1.5 cents for transshipped oil, irrespective of whether the oil remains in New York or is transferred on to another State. In-state end users will be exempted from the fee increase and will remain at 12.25 cents per barrel.
-Financed clean water infrastructure projects: The Environmental Facilities Corporation had a record-breaking year in providing financing and grants in support of municipal clean water projects and wastewater treatment facilities. In 2014, it provided more than $2.3 billion in financial aid to support clean water systems, which contribute significantly to the overall health of communities and provide the infrastructure necessary for job growth and commercial development. This was the largest investment in clean water infrastructure of any state in the nation. The Environmental Facilities Corporation also implemented a policy change, making it easier for municipalities with fewer than 300,000 people to obtain interest-free financing for up to 30 years to improve wastewater collection and treatment systems. Through the Department of Environmental Conservation, the state provided $39.5 million in state grants for water quality improvement projects, while EFC awarded $12 million to 15 innovative stormwater projects across the state. In addition, Governor Cuomo worked with the Legislature to commit to $200 million in funding for new grants over the next three years.
-Increasing Resiliency and Improving Water Quality on Long Island: Initiated a series of actions to bolster coastal resiliency against future storms on Long Island by improving local water quality and reducing harmful nitrogen pollution. Identified $383 million in funding for proposed sewer projects in Suffolk County and advanced $97 million to Nassau County for upgrades to the Bay Park sewage treatment plant. This year’s budget includes $5 million to undertake an assessment of the sources and harm caused by nitrogen pollution throughout Long Island, and identify specific actions to manage and abate those problems going forward.
-Fighting Aquatic Invasive Species: The Governor continued his commitment to keeping New York’s spectacular lakes free of invasive species by coordinating an unprecedented Memo of Understanding signed by over 50 Conservation Groups, Owners Associations, and local and state governments, all agreeing to work together to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in the Adirondack region. It is supported by an additional $1 million in the Environmental Protection Fund budget.
-Launched Reforming the Energy Vision, Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive plan to build a cleaner, more resilient and more affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. The Reforming the Energy Vision plan is an innovative approach that maps a pathway to a low-carbon future by stimulating a vibrant private sector market to provide clean energy solutions to communities and individual customers throughout New York. By focusing on removing market barriers and bridging market gaps through regulatory and programmatic change, Reforming the Energy Vision will create a dynamic, clean energy economy operating at a scale that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities across the State, including job creation and local economic growth, while protecting our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Initiatives undertaken as a part of Reforming the Energy Vision include:
-First round of NY Green Bank transactions: In October 2014, Governor Cuomo announced NY Green Bank’s initial round of transactions, bringing greater private sector investment to both renewable energy generation and energy efficiency projects throughout the state. These transactions, supported and agreed to in principle, will produce investments totaling more than $800 million in New York’s clean energy capital markets. The announced projects, which are traditionally difficult for the private sector to finance, were made possible by NY Green Bank’s participation and are expected to result in an annual reduction of 575,000 tons of carbon dioxide and help to create a more efficient, reliable and sustainable energy system.
-$1 billion initiative to grow New York’s solar industry: Through the NY-Sun initiative, New York State committed $1 billion to significantly expand deployment of solar across the state, add more than 3,000 megawatts to the State’s renewable capacity, and ultimately transform New York’s solar industry into a self-sustaining market. NY-Sun’s long term, predictable incentive structure will spur tremendous growth in the state’s solar industry, which has already resulted in nearly 600 megawatts of solar PV installed or under development, resulting in the avoidance of approximately 216,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. NY-Sun also sets aside dedicated funding to ensure solar becomes more accessible to low-moderate income customers. In addition, Community Solar began work with 26 “solarize” campaigns across the state to make it easier and more affordable for entire neighborhoods to implement solar projects.
-Advanced deployment of solar technology in schools through K- Solar and BuildSmart NY. There are 250 school districts representing 900 schools and 56 of the state’s 62 counties who have signed up to receive free site surveys, solar energy analysis and expedited permitting for the installation of solar panels on school roofs at no upfront cost. K-solar also provides teacher training and materials to support STEM curricula.
-Helped lower greenhouse gas emissions through the Charge NY initiative with the installation of approximately 500 electric vehicle charging stations over the past three years, which has helped grow the number of electric vehicles in the state from 1,000 to more than 12,000 in the same period.
-Built Sustainable communities under the Governor’s Cleaner Greener Communities program, where 91 projects were awarded nearly $60 million to incorporate regional smart growth practices that will build more resilient, sustainable communities across the state and demonstrate the economic, environmental, and cost-saving benefits of community participation in clean energy projects.
-Launched Five Cities Energy Plans: In 2014, Governor Cuomo launched the Five Cities Energy Plans, an innovative example of state-local collaboration enabling five of the largest cities in the state to address their energy priorities and challenges. As part of BuildSmart NY, each of the Five Cities has developed a comprehensive energy master plan which will reduce their municipal energy consumption by at least 20 percent by 2020 and engage local markets in increasing community-wide energy efficiency, renewable generation and other local energy priorities. Once implemented, the plans could save the cities up to $400 million annually in energy costs.
-Announced a $40 million NY Prize microgrid competition to reduce energy costs and promote clean energy reliability and resiliency in communities across New York State. This first of-its-kind competition will inspire a new generation of local power by challenging New York businesses, entrepreneurs, and electric utilities to design and implement community-based microgrids, which offer energy independence as well as local power generation and distribution.
-Furthered Energy Grid Innovation: In 2014, the Public Service Commission approved Con Edison’s “Brooklyn Queens Demand Management” program to encourage the deployment of local energy resources that offer customers more choice and control over energy use in their communities. These efforts will lower overall costs for customers by promoting innovative and competition while offsetting the need to build a $1 billion substation to serve the neighborhood.