Governor Kathy Hochul released her first Executive Budget late yesterday evening, and we're pleased to report that a number of Audubon's conservation priorities were included. Thank you to our nearly 5,000 members who advocated over the past year for to bring these proposals to life!
The biggest wins are the inclusion of reforms to the Freshwater Wetlands Regulatory Program and a proposal to raise the Environmental Protect Fund to $400 million. $400 million is an historic proposal, more than has ever been appropriated for the EPF, and a $100 million increase from the current appropriation.
We still have much work to do as the budget will now be the subject of negotiations between the Senate, Assembly and Governor. Want to ensure you receive Advocacy-related news and opportunities to take action with Audubon? Sign up here.
Audubon-Supported Proposals in New York State’s Enacted Budget
Freshwater Wetlands Reforms. The Executive Budget includes reforms to the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Regulatory Program, which will allow the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to protect an additional one million acres of freshwater wetlands by removing the requirement that all jurisdictional wetlands be delineated on official maps held by the Department. Conserving and restoring wetlands is essential to our fight against climate change since they make our landscapes more resilient to climate-induced flooding and help to sequester carbon.
Environmental Protection Fund. The Executive Budget includes $400 million for the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). This record level of funding will support critical projects that work to mitigate the effects of climate change, protect our water sources, advance conservation efforts, and provide recreational opportunities.
Clean Water Infrastructure. The Executive Budget will provide an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding, bringing the State's total clean water investment to $4.5 billion. This critical investment will ensure New Yorkers have access to clean drinking water and will allow municipalities to invest in efficient and effective wastewater treatment strategies.
DEC Capital Funding. The Executive Budget will provide $90 million, an increase of $15 million from FY22, for the DEC to address capital needs related to improving access to state lands, rehabilitating campgrounds, and upgrading its recreational facilities as part of the Adventure NY program. This funding will also provide for health and safety repairs to state infrastructure, including dams, wetland restoration, state lands, and fish hatcheries.
OPRHP Funding. The Executive Budget provides $200 million, an increase of $90 million from FY22, for OPRHP to invest in enhancing and improving our State parks. This substantial level of funding will aid the ongoing transformation of New York's flagship parks and support critical infrastructure projects throughout the park system.
Extended Producer Responsibility. This bill would create an Extended Producer Responsibility Program for packaging and paper products. The bill would require producers or producer responsibility organizations in the state to develop and implement a program to provide for the collection and recycling of packaging and paper products. The intent of this bill is to reduce waste at its source, promote more sustainable product design, and support the achievement of recycling and materials management goals by placing responsibility for the collection and management of post-consumer packing and paper products on the producers of such products.
Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. The Executive Budget includes $4 billion for the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. This historic initiative will provide the support New York needs to restore critical environmental habitats; reduce flood risks; conserve additional lands and open spaces; protect and improve our water resources; and invest in climate change mitigation projects that will reduce pollution and lower carbon emissions.