NYS has taken some significant environmental steps forward, thanks to the Cuomo administration permanently banning hydrofracking, and the distribution and use of Styrofoam. In a press release issued last night, these bans were listed as part of The Enacted Budget, in which state law finally deemed these two measures important steps towards safeguarding the environment while bolstering the Green Economy at the same time.
“It would have been very easy to say, ‘Oh, this is an extraordinary year; let’s just do the bare minimum and go home.’ We did the opposite. We said there is a lot of need and there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed, and we stepped up to the plate and we got it done, said Cuomo, who also authorized the creation of a $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. Moving forward, we will see progress on a number of enviro-fronts, some of which we will spell out in days to come. Following are a few highlights of the FY2021 Enacted Budget, as laid out by Cuomo’s administration:
Banning the Distribution and Use of Styrofoam: The Enacted Budget prohibit the distribution and use of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, single-use food containers. It also bans the sale of expanded polystyrene packaging materials known as packing peanuts. This is the strongest statewide ban in the United States and will go into effect by January 1, 2022.
Permanently Banning Hydrofracking: The Enacted Budget codifies Governor Cuomo’s ban on the Department of Environmental Conservation approving permits that would authorize an applicant to drill, deepen, plug back or convert wells that use high-volume hydraulic fracturing as a means to complete or recomplete a well. In addition, it places a moratorium on future gelled propane hydrofracking applications until the Department can conduct an analysis of the impacts of this completion method. This will protect the health of New Yorkers and ensuring permanently that our environment is not harmed by this practice.
Green Economy Tax Credit: The budget creates a new refundable, discretionary Green Jobs Tax Credit totaling up to 7.5 percent of wages for each net new job created fostering the expansion of green economy businesses and position New York State to further capitalize on significant projected green economic growth. The State will also create a refundable, discretionary Green Investment Tax Credit totaling up to 5 percent of qualifying new capital investments in connection with qualifying green economy projects and increasing to up to 8 percent of eligible investment for research and development in qualifying green economy projects.
Authorized the Creation of a $3 Billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act: The Budget authorizes the creation of a Bond Act to fund critical environmental restoration and climate mitigation projects in every corner of the state to ensure New York is able to adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change, and reduce emissions, while creating jobs and local economic development. As part of the larger Restore Mother Nature Initiative, the Bond Act will be a key source of funding for projects focused on reducing flood risk, investing in resilient infrastructure, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, preserving open space, conserving forest areas, and reducing pollution from agricultural and storm water runoff. It will also fund up to $700 million in projects to fight climate change, including green buildings. It also aims to spend 35 percent of the funds on projects to benefit underserved areas of the state. The Budget Director will assess the state’s finances and the economic outlook later this year and make a determination as to whether to move forward with the Bond Act.
All of the above-mentioned efforts are now in place to help fortify the Governor’s Making Progress Happen agenda.
Lead image: Photo by Caleb Lucas