Statement from Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute: Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed state budget sets the stage for a momentous year by instituting long-term protections for the water, lands, and clean air that sustain all New Yorkers. Hers is a budgetary roadmap that addresses climate change as the environmental crisis of our times, acknowledges and responds to the public’s need to connect with nature, and makes much-needed investments in land conservation for clean drinking water, flood protection, carbon absorption, and recreation.
The $4 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act, and its emphasis on land conservation and the protection of open space, is particularly welcome as New York State prioritizes water protection, the reduction of carbon in our atmosphere, addresses increasing threats of flooding in the wake of climate change, and the need to conserve habitat. This expansion represents a clear understanding of what’s at stake for all of us in New York State as, together, we confront the realities of climate change and the water, air and land that sustains us all.
At the same time, the proposed Environmental Protection Fund increase to $400 million sets a new, higher standard for reliable environmental funding in New York State to meet the growing demand for parks and greenspace for people and wildlife, enable farmland protection, fight pollution, and provide for clean water.
In addition, OSI enthusiastically endorses Governor Hochul’s proposed monumental commitment to making New York State parks and public lands more welcoming and available for all visitors. The governor’s $200 million allocation for state parks infrastructure represents the single largest capital infusion for New York State Parks in history, and dramatically raises the bar for public access throughout the nation. The increased investment in the Department of Environmental Conservation will also go a long way to improving safe access to state lands.
And finally, by prioritizing the protection of New York’s vulnerable wetlands, Governor Hochul is taking a wise and necessary step to maintain water quality, fight climate change, and mitigate the effects of severe storms and flooding. We look forward to working with the administration and the legislature to secure vital wetlands mapping changes this year.
As the 2022 legislative session gets underway, we look forward to working with Governor Hochul, her administration, and legislative leaders to enact a budget that moves New York State forward as a national leader in addressing the climate crisis, improving and creating access to nature and the outdoors, and ensuring that that water and air we need are protected for generations to come.