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Counties Call For Action To Protect Environment

Counties Call For Action To Protect Environment

During this year's celebration of Earth Week and Earth Day, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) is calling for state action to strengthen counties' ability to protect the environment and promote energy efficiency.

The slate of actions recommended by New York's counties include those developed by NYSAC's Climate Action Committee and adopted by NYSAC members during their recent Legislative Conference. The resolutions call on the state to establish a product stewardship program for packaging and printed paper, reduce barriers to participation in state programs designed to support weatherization and energy efficiency retrofits, and authorize counties to form community choice aggregation (CCA) programs.

Ulster County Executive and NYSAC Climate Action Committee Chair Jen Metzger said, “New York State has been leading the nation in advancing policies that protect our natural resources and accelerate the shift to renewable energy, but to realize its ambitious goals, counties need to be empowered to implement these policies on the ground. These proposals would strengthen local governments' ability to sustain critical recycling programs, promote energy-saving weatherization projects, and allow more New Yorkers to choose renewable sources of home energy.”
Clinton County Administrator and NYSAC President Michael E. Zurlo said, “New York's counties are committed to protecting our natural resources and leading the transition of renewable energy sources, but to be as effective as possible, we're calling on our state partners to provide the resources and flexibility needed to lead this change on the ground in our communities. We have an opportunity in the budget and the remaining Legislative Session to shore up our ailing recycling programs and strengthen existing state programs that can not only help the planet but also save New Yorker's money.”

Of particular importance in state budget negotiations is the inclusion of a provision establishing an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for packaging and printed paper to reduce waste. For decades, counties and municipalities have borne the cost and financial risk of recycling consumer packaging. Despite having no control over what packaging is used, local governments are burdened with the expense of managing an ever-evolving, sophisticated packaging waste stream on behalf of the product manufacturers that generate the material. A well-designed EPR program would solve this problem by shifting responsibility for the recovery of paper and packaging materials in curbside recycling programs from local governments and taxpayers to producers and brand owners.

In addition to EPR legislation, NYSAC is also calling on the Governor and Legislature to provide additional support for county energy coordinators in the FY 2024 State Budget and to address barriers to participation in state programs like NYS Clean Heat, the NYS Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), and the EmPower New York Program that are designed to support weatherization and energy efficiency retrofits, including streamlining application processes, implementing a “no wrong door” policy, and investing in more clean energy advisors to guide New Yorkers through the application process.

Finally, NYSAC is advocating for the Public Service Commission to authorize counties to authorize and form community choice aggregation programs which would allow local governments to make bulk power purchases on behalf of participating homeowners and businesses in their jurisdiction, making it easier for residents and employers to benefit from local clean energy projects.

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario said, “As community-centered governments, New York's counties are in a unique position to partner with the state to lead New York into a cleaner and greener future. By working together, counties can do what counties do best: turn policy into action that makes a positive difference in the lives of New Yorkers.”



Media Contact: Mark LaVigne | | 518-465-1473 x206 

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