On Earth Day, Counties Call for Continued Action to Support Local Environmental Leadership
This Earth Day, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) commends the Governor and State Legislature for passing a state budget that makes significant investments in environmental protection and climate change mitigation and urges state leaders to continue the momentum by passing legislation included in NYSAC's environmental agenda.
NYSAC's top environmental priorities for the rest of the 2021 Legislative Session include improving recycling programs for electronics, glass, cardboard, paper and plastic in the state of New York; establishing a safe water infrastructure program; expanding the Bottle Bill to include glass liquor, wine, and iced tea bottles; and providing for the release of PFAS and 1,4 dioxane test results in drinking water testing data to the public.
These proposals would build on the environmental leadership that the Governor and Legislature demonstrated in SFY 2022 State Budget, which included legislation to increase the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rebate to help counties convert their fleets to electric vehicles; a $3 billion Preserve Mother Nature Bond Act to help fund local sustainability and resiliency projects; an additional $500 million investment in clean water infrastructure; and legislation to create a Farmland Protection Working Group to facilitate input from local governments in the renewable energy siting process.
"This year's state budget will strengthen the state-local partnership to protect New York's natural resources and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," said NYSAC President and Ontario County Chair Jack Marren. “There is no time to rest on our laurels. We must continue to move forward and pass legislation that strengthens local recycling programs, protects our communities from harmful chemicals, and invests in safe drinking water.”
"Climate change and environmental degradation are challenges too big for any one level of government to tackle alone, and I'm extremely proud of the way counties and the state have worked together to protect natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said NYSCEA President and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro. “This Earth Day, we're calling on our state partners to redouble their efforts and continue the progress we've made so we can preserve the health of our planet for the next generation.”
New York's counties are on the forefront of efforts to combat climate change. Through initiatives like the Climate Smart Communities and Clean Energy Communities, counties have been able to make significant investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and increased resiliency to the effects of climate change. Counties have also been able to share ideas, strategies, and develop partnerships to mitigate and prepare for climate change through the NYSAC Climate Resiliency Committee.
“Through the Climate Resiliency Committee, we made the case that counties must be involved in implementing the State's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA),” said Committee Chair and Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson. “The Local Officials Roundtable was created as a result, where county leaders shared their concrete experience in fighting climate change while meeting their constituents' every day needs and balancing their budgets.”
"Counties are where ideas become action, and the fight against climate change is no exception," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “Working constructively with our partners in state government, counties are building solar farms, converting their fleets and transit systems to zero-emission electric vehicles, and working with local businesses improve energy efficiency. We've made great progress, but there's much more to be done, like converting school buses to electric similar to public transit, and we look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor to pass legislation to strengthen local environmental protection efforts."
NYSAC recently released an Earth Day episode of its County Conversations podcast. The episode featured a conversation with State Senator Michelle Hinchey and Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan focused on their work at the state and local level to protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make New York State a leader in clean energy. Listen here.
Media Contact: Mark LaVigne | MLavigne@nysac.org | 518-465-1473 x206