- Clean Air Funding, No RGGI Raid Key Within Cuomo Budget

For Immediate Release: January 12, 2016

Clean Air Funding, No RGGI Raid Key Within Cuomo Budget

Governor to release annual budget plan Wednesday

Albany – Governor Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to unveil his SFY 2016-17 Executive Budget proposal on Wednesday, which will outline his positions on a wide range of environmental and public health programs. Environmental Advocates of New York – the only advocacy group that reviews the entire budget through a green lens – has identified a number of priorities to watch for, all of which align with the Governor’s prior commitments on climate action, clean air, and community development, including:

  • Legislation to put the state’s 80x50 climate pollution reduction, 50x30 clean power, and 23x30 energy efficiency goals into law
  • No more raids on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
  • Funding necessary to fully implement the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2006 (DERA)
  • An $800 million investment to #FixOurPipes
  • Clean air and staffing support for the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Child Safe Products Act

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “Following release of his proposals to raise the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $300 million, and invest another $100 million in our drinking and wastewater infrastructure, Governor Cuomo is off to a strong environmental start in this State Budget. But, as always, the devil is in the details.”

Iwanowicz added, “For instance, Governor Cuomo has made bold commitments in recent months that could make New York a climate leader, and it will be crucial for his budget to move us toward achieving them. There are other issues that the Governor has supported but the Senate continually blocks, like DERA and the Child Safe Products Act. We will be looking for the Governor to lead on these issues and ensure they are part of the final Enacted Budget.”

Codification of Climate Goals: The Governor has also received strong acclaim from Environmental Advocates for his commitment to formalize the State’s clean energy standard (CES). Enacting that and the State’s climate pollution goals into law will provide certainty that they will be met and will cover all sectors of the economy.

No More RGGI Raids: Last year, Governor Cuomo proposed and state legislators agreed to raid RGGI, the state’s premier carbon abatement program. The move took dedicated off-budget funds that support thousands of energy efficiency and clean energy projects statewide, and moved them on budget to support programs that pre-date the RGGI program. The raid was roundly opposed by environmental groups, public health groups, business groups, and editorial boards. Any raid of the RGGI program into the state budget would compromise the entire program.

Implementation of DERA: Ten years ago, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act was established to reduce air pollution, help kids in communities with high asthma rates, and provide a boon to Upstate manufacturing. The law, which was to be fully implemented in 2010, has been delayed by the state Senate ever since with the support of the very senators who once touted its overwhelming passage. The Governor’s proposal should provide the funding necessary to finish the job.

$800 million to #FixOurPipes: Prior to April 2015, there was no dedicated grant program in the New York State budget to ensure an annual investment to help our communities fix their aging drinking and wastewater infrastructure. The SFY 2015-16 budget changed that when the leaders created a new, $200 million, three-year grant program for clean water infrastructure to protect public health and support community growth and environmental protection. Governor Cuomo’s announcement to invest another $100 million is an important acknowledgment that even more is needed. Environmental Advocates is urging legislators to identify resources elsewhere, such as bank settlement funds, to provide more support.

Clean Air and DEC Staffing: Since 2009 there has been a 25 percent reduction in air monitors statewide, as well as a 34 percent reduction in overall clean air operating funds since 2007. This has undermined the work of the experts within the DEC’s Division of Air Resources, and led to the state’s over-reliance on polluters to self-police and ensure compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. In the current budget, the fees on certain polluters were raised – Environmental Advocates is urging the Governor to dedicate those funds back to the program itself, as well as to dedicate new annual resources to the DEC.

Child Safe Products Act: As with DERA, the Senate continues to hamper this common-sense children’s health legislation despite overwhelming bipartisan support. At one point in the last legislative session, more than 40 Senators cosponsored the bill, which has passed the Assembly several years in a row. In his 2015 “Opportunity Agenda,” Governor Cuomo stated his support for the legislation, but it ultimately did not make it into the Enacted Budget or get passed by the Senate. Governor Cuomo should include it in his proposal and lead negotiations to ensure its passage as part of the Enacted Budget.