ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — The FY 2023 Budget includes environmental initiatives for New York State.
“This moment demands historic investments in renewable energy and environmental protection to bring us closer to a brighter, greener future,” Governor Hochul said. “Our unprecedented commitment to the pursuit of clean-energy alternatives and green infrastructure will supercharge our economy and advance our climate goals. Thanks to the help of Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie, this Budget solidifies New York’s place as a national leader in the fight against climate change.”
The budget includes the following initiatives:
Expanded Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act
An additional $1.2 billion, for a total of $4.2 billion, is being authorized for the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, with the goal of providing the support New York needs to provide safe water to drink; invest in critical water infrastructure; restore critical environmental habitats; reduce flood risks; preserve outdoor spaces and local farms; and invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation projects that will reduce air pollution, lower carbon emissions and improve the ability of New York communities to withstand the climate-driven increase in severe weather events and flooding. The Bond Act will also support an investment in the Clean Green Schools initiative that will reach every public school located in a disadvantaged community.
In addition to the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, the budget provides a record $400 million Environmental Protection Fund to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improve agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protect water sources, advance conservation efforts and provide recreational opportunities for New Yorkers. In addition, $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding is included, bringing the state’s total clean water investment to $4.5 billion since 2017.
The Department of Environmental Conservation’s funding will increase by $15 million. This increase will go towards capital needs to improve state lands, rehabilitate campgrounds and upgrade its recreational facilities, all as part of the Adventure NY program which connects New Yorkers with nature. The funding will also provide for health and safety repairs to state infrastructure, including dams, wetland restoration, state lands, and fish hatcheries. The enacted budget also includes an additional $20 million in funding for infrastructure improvements at the state-owned Conklingville Dam.
The budget includes improvements to the state’s wetlands protection program, safeguarding an estimated one million additional acres of unprotected wetlands habitat and helping New York adapt to increased flooding and severe storms fueled by climate change.
The budget also includes an extension and expansion of New York State’s successful Brownfield Cleanup Program, which was set to expire in December 2022. The program is reauthorized for 10 years. The budget improves the program by incentivizing cleanups in disadvantaged communities. The program expands the universe of affordable housing programs eligible for BCP property tax credits, providing benefits to incentivize the redevelopment of brownfields as much-needed affordable housing. The BCP now encourages the development of certain renewable energy facility sites, with new tax credits, to help focus BCP-driven redevelopment and meet the state’s ambitious climate goals.
Zero Emission School Buses
The budget requires that all new school bus purchases be zero emissions by 2027 and all school buses on the road be zero emissions by 2035. The budget will provide $500 million through the Environmental Bond Act to support school districts in purchases of zero-emission buses and related charging infrastructure including charging stations. The budget authorizes school districts to lease or finance zero-emission buses for 12 years, more than double the current five-year limitation for diesel buses, in order to help districts meet this goal, and ensures transportation aid is provided on zero-emission buses and related charging infrastructure.
The Clean Green Schools initiative provided in the “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” will serve more than 1,000 public schools and benefit nearly 1 million students. The program will drive infrastructure upgrades, such as geothermal heating and cooling, solar, green roofs and indoor air quality/ventilation.
As part of the Governor’s commitment to support the development of at least 1 million electrified homes and up to 1 million electrification-ready homes by 2030, the Enacted Budget provides funding for a $25 billion, five-year Capital Housing Plan that will create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes and electrify an additional 50,000 homes.
Offshore Wind Investment
The Enacted Budget includes a $500 million investment to develop the state’s offshore wind supply chains and port infrastructure, creating 2,000 jobs in a growing industry, while helping to make New York the offshore wind capital of the country.
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Funding
The Enacted Budget will increase funding for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation by $140 million, for a total of $250 million. The increase will be invested into enhancing and improving New York’s state parks.
The funding will allow the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to continue its mission of providing safe, enjoyable recreational and interpretive opportunities for New York State residents and visitors. The Office functions as a steward of New York State’s valuable natural, historic, and cultural resources. OPRHP operates the State Park System, a network of 181 State parks and 35 historic sites. In 2021, the system welcomed a record 78.4 million visitors.
The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation collectively oversee 5.35 million acres of open space statewide, including 2.6 million acres in the Adirondack Park and nearly 300,000 acres in the Catskill Forest Preserve.