Yesterday, New York State finalized its SFY 2020-21 Enacted Budget. The budget includes several important proposals for which Audubon New York successfully advocated, including $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, $3 billion for the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, amendments to the siting process for renewable energy development, and a ban on Styrofoam packaging.
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Audubon-Supported Proposals in New York State’s Enacted Budget
Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. The $3 billion bond act, the first environmental bond act in over 24 years, will provide a critical source of recurring funding for protecting our environment. This funding will restore our streams, wetlands, and coasts and support the wildlife that depends on them. Improved resiliency will also help protect the places birds and people need, in the face of climate-related threats like flooding and sea level rise. We look forward to seeing this initiative on the ballot in November - remember to vote YES!
Environmental Protection Fund. New York State provided an additional $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, which protects clean water, open space, working lands, forests, parks, and waterfronts – helping birds and people thrive. 100 percent of that funding will be used for capital projects that benefit the environment and local communities – without any offloading for agency operations. This includes an increase to the Zoos, Botanical Gardens, and Aquaria Program, increased funding for the Ocean and Great Lakes Initiative, and $500,000 for Regenerate NY, which will benefit New York State’s declining woodland birds.
Ban on Styrofoam. Plastics have become an abundant pollutant in our oceans and pose a major threat to marine and coastal wildlife—seabirds in particular. Scientists estimate that by the year 2050, 99 percent of all pelagic birds will have consumed plastic at some point in their lives. The budget bans the use of Styrofoam single-use food containers and packing materials, which will help to decrease our reliance on single-use plastic and prevent accidental ingestion by coastal and marine birds.
Acceleration of Renewables Development. Balancing the development of responsibly-sited renewable energy with measures that protect vulnerable birds and their habitat ensures that we can protect our wildlife now as we reach toward a carbon-neutral future. The budget contains a new siting process that will work to achieve this balance, which includes a mitigation fund for the protection of threatened and endangered species and also prioritizes the use of existing or abandoned commercial sites, brownfields, landfills, former industrial sites, and abandoned or otherwise underutilized sites for renewable energy projects.