Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney today announced the Assembly SFY 2014-15 Budget would provide $167 million to the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a $10 million increase above the Executive's budget.
"Communities throughout the state benefit from the Environmental Protection Fund's programs that help ensure their residents are living in a safe and clean environment," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "This Assembly commitment of additional funding will help support important environmental projects to enhance the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the availability of green spaces for New Yorkers to enjoy."
"This budget reflects our house's strong connection to the mission of EPF. It invests in environmental initiatives to help municipalities continue their efforts to safeguard the environment with measures that will protect water supplies, establish greater public access to our waterways and improve parklands and recreational areas," said Sweeney.
Among the environmental projects that would see increases over the Executive's plan in the Assembly budget are municipal recycling, waterfront revitalization, municipal parks, zoos, botanical gardens and water quality improvement programs.
Silver and Sweeney also noted the Assembly provides, within the EPF, $1 million to the statewide network of Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health to research and identify environmental causes of childhood diseases.
Environmental Cleanup (Superfund)
The Assembly budget also would increase the authorization for the state's Superfund program by $1 billion which would include Governor Andrew Cuomo's $100 million Superfund commitment for SFY 2014-15.
The Superfund program cleans up sites that represent a significant threat to the public health or environment and require immediate action. In addition, for the first time, municipally-owned Environmental Restoration Projects would be eligible for funding. Cleaning up these contaminated sites is important to revitalizing communities and strengthening local economic development efforts across the state.
Promoting Outdoor Recreation in New York State
In addition, the Assembly budget includes Governor Cuomo's plan to expand the number of designated days, from two to eight, when fishing without a license would be permitted. It also would make available the state's hunting and fishing licenses at a reduced fee for 10 days of the year.
Requiring the Use of Cleaner Heating Oil
The Assembly budget includes a provision that would phase-in a requirement that biodiesel be used statewide as a component of heating oil.
"The requirement to use biodiesel makes sense on a number of levels - it will help reduce air pollution while also providing a more efficient fuel and decreased dependence on foreign oil," Sweeney said.
Keeping New York State's Drinking Water Clean
Currently, the Department of Environmental Conservation collects unwanted drugs from nursing homes and hospitals in the Hudson Valley and in Rochester for disposal. The Assembly budget would require this free program to be offered statewide in all areas with sole-source aquifers.
"We have sent the message that it is no longer okay to flush unwanted drugs down the toilet, but we are not providing institutions with free and effective disposal methods. This initiative will help accomplish that goal and help prevent drugs from contaminating our drinking water," Sweeney said.