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Statement on environmental priorities in the New York State budget

ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New York lawmakers passed their $175 billion state budget including a ban on single-use plastic bags and $500 million in funding for clean water projects that includes repairing and upgrading water infrastructure, protecting drinking water at its source, and responding to sources of toxic contamination such as PFAS and toxic algal outbreaks. Additionally, the Governor and lawmakers rejected the proposed language to raid the Environmental Protection Fund and instead continued to fund the state’s dedicated environmental program at $300 million.

The single-use plastic bag ban signals a big victory in the fight against plastic pollution and comes on the heels of years of disagreement over the issue. However, state lawmakers kicked the question of fees on other carryout bags, including paper, to local governments. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signaled his support for opting into the paper bag fee in addition to Councilmembers Brad Lander and Margaret Chin.

Jeremy Cherson, Riverkeeper, Legislative Advocacy Manager said, “Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie and Leader Stewart-Cousins deserves thanks for funding the first $500 million installment of the new $2.5 billion for critical clean water projects. This builds upon the historic investment of the 2017 Clean Water Infrastructure Act that has supported hundreds of millions of dollars in local projects to improve water quality and protect drinking water across the Hudson River Estuary.”

“We are thrilled that the days of the single-use plastic bag are coming to an end in New York. This is a huge win for clean water, as every day the plastic pollution problem worsens. We encourage local government to opt-in to the critical fee on paper that will encourage consumers to use reusable shopping bags.”

“Riverkeeper is ecstatic that Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers will invest another $300 million into the Environmental Protection Fund. We are grateful to the Legislature for rejecting the proposed raid of the fund. The EPF supports millions of dollars worth of programs and investments across the estuary including the Hudson River Estuary Program, Waterfront Revitalization Program, Water Quality Improvement Program and Source Water Assessments.”

Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program Director said, “Every day, 350 million gallons of wastewater flows from our homes and businesses to treatment plants, and then into the Hudson River and its tributaries. This money is critical to helping communities maintain and upgrade that infrastructure, to prevent overflows and improve water quality.

“A long-term commitment to this funding is necessary so communities can plan for complicated infrastructure projects, knowing the state will continue to provide grants. That’s why we fought to see the full $2.5 billion doubling of the state’s commitment included in this year’s budget. We’ll continue to hold the Governor to his promise to double spending.”

Jeremy Cherson, legislative advocacy manager; [email protected]; 770-630-6790
Dan Shapley, water quality program director; [email protected]; 845-797-2158?