Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright today announced the 2016-17 SFY Budget approved by the Legislature will provide $500 million for important environmental programs, including $200 million in additional funds for water infrastructure improvements and $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The budget's increase of more than $120 million to the EPF will pay for initiatives that prevent and identify water contamination, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, eradicate invasive species and address climate change.
"This budget makes strategic investments in our environment in order to ensure the quality of the water we drink, the air we breathe and the safety of the communities where we live," said Speaker Heastie. "I am very pleased that the Assembly prevailed in this budget and was able to fund the EPF at its highest levels ever and secure much-needed funding for programs that protect water, the environment and combat climate change."
"The funding in this budget will strengthen the state's efforts to save our environment from hazards, including contaminants in water such as lead and pharmaceuticals, coastal flooding, air pollution and the devastation caused by extreme weather. The budget will also provide incentives for clean vehicle purchase and infrastructure," said Englebright. "By providing the EPF with significantly more funding than previous budget years, the Assembly continues its longstanding commitment to initiatives that protect our environment for the health and well-being of all New Yorkers."
The 2016-17 SFY Budget provides $14 million to establish, for the first time ever, a Climate Change Account within the EPF. This newly-created account will bolster the state's efforts to more effectively address the need for greenhouse gas reductions, flood mitigation and coastal projects. The account also will help create clean vehicle infrastructure and municipal purchase initiative and assist municipalities with climate change planning.
The budget funds EPF at $300 million, which is the largest funding commitment in EPF's history, an increase of $123 million, or 69 percent, above the $177 million EPF received in the 2015-16 SFY Budget. It provides $1.5 million for water testing, including for lead in schools; $1 million for drug collection programs, both for protecting the environment and in support of the safe and responsible disposal of opioid based pharmaceuticals; and $12 million for combating the spread of invasive species.
The $200 million funding increase for water infrastructure improvements will expand the state's ability to provide grants to municipalities who need to upgrade, repair or improve their water treatment facilities and might not otherwise have sufficient financial resources.
To decrease greenhouse gas emissions, the budget authorizes programs to encourage the use of clean vehicles. The EPF will fund a clean vehicle initiative that will provide municipalities with a rebate of up to $250,000 for clean vehicle infrastructure and also a rebate of $750 to $5,000 for each eligible electric vehicle purchased, based on the vehicle's range.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will administer a program that will provide rebates of up to $2,000 to consumers who purchase certain clean vehicles.
Heastie and Englebright noted that during this year's budget the information obtained from the Assembly's Climate Change Work Group during their roundtables helped the Assembly successfully direct funding to important environmental initiatives, including greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and municipal planning, adaptation and mitigation projects.