The SFY 2019-20 Enacted Budget was released today and contains several proposals that will benefit birds, people, and other wildlife:
- 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. This includes an increase to the Zoos, Botanical Gardens, and Aquaria Program, full 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 Single-Use Plastic Bags. Plastics have become an abundant pollutant in our oceans and pose a major threat to marine and coastal wildlife. On average, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year due to littering, illegal dumping, and poor waste management on land and at sea. The budget bans the use of plastic bags in New York State and allows counties to opt in to a fee on paper – a portion of which would be directed to the Environmental Protection Fund.
- Increased Funding for Clean Water Infrastructure. We all share a need for clean water. The budget includes an additional $500 million in funding for clean water infrastructure – providing another significant down payment on the state’s $80 billion need for improved drinking water and wastewater systems and protect source waters.
In response, Erin McGrath, Policy Manager for Audubon New York issued the following statement:
“We are pleased that the New York State budget will help us reduce our reliance on single-use plastics, invest increased funds in repairing our clean water infrastructure, and continue to provide funding for environmental conservation and stewardship through the Environmental Protection Fund. We extend our thanks to Governor Cuomo, the Senate, and the Assembly for advancing a budget that will provide a brighter future for birds, people, and other wildlife.
Birds are facing many threats and plastic bags should not be one of them. A ban on single-use plastic bags will reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways and prevent entanglement and accidental ingestion by coastal and marine birds. We are also glad to see that the Environmental Protection Fund includes another installment of $300 million in capital funds that will help us protect the environment and our enhance communities. These funds provide critical support for Audubon’s nature centers and sanctuaries, which connects visitors with nature by focusing on providing opportunities for recreation, stewardship, and education. Additionally, the proposed Regenerate NY program will help us protect New York State’s declining woodland birds, which benefit from the active management of our forests. And clean water is good for birds and people – New York State’s investments in clean water will help local communities that are struggling to fund needed infrastructure repair.”
About Audubon New York
Audubon New York, a state program of the National Audubon Society, protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.ny.audubon.org.