Albany, NY - April 21, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a proclamation, as part of a weeklong celebration of Earth Day, emphasizing the administration’s environmental commitments and accomplishments in encouraging responsible stewardship of our natural resources and promoting cleaner and healthier communities that are more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The proclamation can be viewed here.
"Today, on the first day of Earth Week, we stop to appreciate the Empire State’s natural resources and beauty, and consider what we will leave behind for future generations," Governor Cuomo said. "In the past several years New Yorker’s have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of increasingly severe weather, destroying over tens of thousands of homes, causing tens of billions of dollars in damaging and causing untold heartbreak. As we reimagine New York for the new weather reality, we focus on sustainability and resilience, not only in our rebuilding efforts, but in the policies we implement that work to protect our environment and preserve the natural beauty of our state. Today, we reconfirm our dedication to that effort and encourage all New Yorkers to join us in celebrating and protecting the splendor of our state for years to come.”
KEY ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Reimagined New York for a New Reality: Launched a $17 billion strategy to transform New York's infrastructure, transportation networks, energy supply, coastal protection, weather warning system and emergency management to better protect New Yorkers from the impact of climate change, including future extreme weather. Included in this strategy is: hardening the state's electric grid and creating 10 "microgrids" (independent community-based electric distributions systems), building new natural infrastructure to protect the New York's coastline, and providing advanced flood control for inland waterways.
- Increased the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF): The enacted State Budget includes $162 million for the EPF, an increase of $9 million from 2013-14, and grown from $134 million in the 2011-2012 budget. EPF 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 (RGGI): On January 1, 2014, New York and other RGGI states reduced the carbon emission cap by 45 percent, and the state's reinvestment of $386 million in RGGI auction proceeds is expected to reduce carbon pollution by 2.9 million tons, providing bill savings and other benefits to more than 110,000 households and 2,500 businesses across the State.
- Opened the $1 billion NY Green Bank, a state sponsored investment fund and the largest initiative of its kind in the nation, to enable greater investment in clean energy by expanding the availability of capital. Working in partnership with the private sector, NY Green Bank seeks to transform the clean energy financing market by reducing the need for subsidies and ensuring a more efficient marketplace. NY Green Bank's market based solutions will accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies by businesses, institutions and homeowners in communities throughout the state, resulting in cleaner and more reliable energy for all New Yorkers. The NY Green Bank is open for business through its initial capitalization and is actively seeking financing partnership proposals.
- Supported the tremendous growth in the solar industry through the NY-Sun initiative resulting in approximately 300 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) power being installed or under development, which will result in the avoidance of approximately 145,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. More solar PV systems are being developed since NY-Sun's launch in 2012 than in the entire prior decade combined. Through this initiative, New York State is embarking on a new PV phase to continue to lower project costs through Community Solar NY, including K- Solar, which will demonstrate PV in schools and aggregate solar projects to "solarize" entire neighborhoods.
- Achieved seven percent energy savings in state facilities through Build Smart NY initiative, which will save an estimated $50-60 million in cost savings and avoid as much as 180,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Helped lower greenhouse gas emissions through the Charge NY initiative with the installation of 350 electric vehicle charging stations over the past two years, which has encouraged the marked increase in electric vehicle ownership from approximately 1,000 to more than 7,500 in that same time period.
- Built Sustainable communities under the Governor’s Cleaner Greener Communities (CGC) program: Through CGC, 46 projects were awarded nearly $30 million to incorporate regional smart growth practices that will build more resilient, sustainable communities across the State.
- Preserved open space by approving the State Land Classifications for 42,000 acres recently added to the State Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park. These new land classifications, which involve properties formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company, bolster the strong emphasis on natural resource preservation balanced with community connectivity and public access and recreational needs.
- Supported improved recreation opportunities throughout the state with $6 million in funding in the 2014-15 State Budget for 50 new access points. These sites will provide access to approximately 380,000 acres of existing State lands for recreation, including boat launches, bird watching areas, trails, and hunting blinds.
- Expanded sportsmen and sportswomen activities through the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative and through new funding in the 2014-15 State Budget, including $4 million for upgrades and improvements to fish hatcheries across the state. In addition, the budget reduced short-term fishing licenses fees, authorized crossbow hunting, increased free fishing days, authorized promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, and authorized free adventure plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted adventure plates for existing lifetime license holders, and regular fee adventure plates for annual license holders.
- Supported the continued revitalization of the State Park system with $90 million for state parks to begin 69 construction projects in more than 50 state parks and historic sites. The first three rounds of the New York Works funds leveraged a $269 million investment in the park system, making improvements at 81 state parks and sites. Also, in the past year, the state recently added the first State Park in the city of Buffalo as well as the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park in New York City, and has achieved the best attendance rates in over a decade.
- Financed clean water infrastructure projects: The Environmental Facilities Corporation had a near record-breaking year in providing financing and grants in support of municipal clean water projects and wastewater treatment facilities. In 2013, it provided nearly $2 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. New York is committing $1.6 billion to sustainable and resilient wastewater infrastructure, including reserving hundreds of millions in federal funds for repairs and improvements to the Bay Park and Bergen Point facilities. Through the Department of Environmental Conservation, the state provided $61 million in state grants for water quality improvement projects.