The only way to describe what is taking place in the halls of the Capitol as the Legislature responds to the Governor’s proposed budget is: “breathtaking.” It is a word that gets tossed around a lot when proposed legislation is sweeping, but in this case, I mean it literally.
The budget bills from the Assembly and the Senate (more so the Senate) both go after clean energy funds and divert them from their intended purposes to help pay for each house’s pet projects. The Assembly plan diverts $20 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) budget to support other initiatives. The Senate proposal takes ten times that amount, sweeping $218 million in clean energy funds from NYSERDA to pay for corporate tax breaks.
NYSERDA’s clean energy programs are designed to do a couple of key things. They:
- Help New York families and businesses cut energy waste by offering up grants and low interest loans to help us become more energy efficient and to “weatherize” our properties.
- Support the development and use of renewable energy technologies, like wind power and solar panels.
- Lead to clearer air that, in turn, means fewer asthma attacks, heart attacks, cases of lung cancer and premature deaths in our seniors.
So, robbing clean energy accounts will literally take our breath away.
There are other areas of budget proposals that impact the State’s longstanding pesticide sales and use database, the Governor’s plan to fix the broken brownfield cleanup program, the Environmental Protection Fund, cleaning toxic Superfund sites, as well as efforts to address the impacts of our changing climate.
Environmental Advocates of New York is your green watchdog. At times like these you can count on us to read through the details of all the proposals, to push back against measures that will rollback, block or weaken important safeguards and standards, and to arm you with the information to understand how arcane budget language will impact you and your family.