NEW YORK, NY (Jan. 16, 2019) — The Open Space Institute (OSI) today commended Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2019-20 budget proposal for it conservation vision and action. OSI is particularly pleased that the governor is maintaining a historic commitment to rebuilding state parks, creating a budgetary blue print for combatting climate change, providing for clean drinking water, banning plastic bags and expanding the state’s bottle return program. The group also lauded the governor for maintaining funding levels for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and increasing the state’s investment in water infrastructure.
“This spending plan further establishes Governor Cuomo as a national leader in protecting our precious natural resources,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “In addition to maintaining EPF and water infrastructure and state park infrastructure funding, his bottle bill and plastic bag ban proposals are critical to reducing the amount of single use plastics that end up polluting our land and waterways. The governor is to be commended for taking these bold actions.”
The plastic bag ban will curtail the billions of non-biodegradable plastic bags being used annually in New York State and the bottle bill will increase the number of recycled plastic containers. Both proposals are aimed at cutting pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and preventing plastic materials from ending up in the trash.
Elliman also expressed strong support for utilizing the power of nature to absorb carbon pollution as referenced in the governor’s spending plan. “Smart and informed land conservation is one of the most cost-effective ways to sequester carbon and absorb the effects of climate change.”
While supportive of the overall budget proposal, Elliman expressed concern over the lack of funding for staff at New York State Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation. “The urgency to protect our parks and environment should be extended to funding for agency staff. The greatest opportunity for success of these exciting and cutting-edge proposals relies on steady workforce that will carry out the work,” he said.