You can vote on Environmental Bond Act: clean air, clean water, green jobs

waterfall in Glen Park in Williamsville New York
Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Do you want New York State to borrow money for projects to help residents have clean air, clear water and green jobs? When you vote in the upcoming election, you’ll see that as New York State’s Proposition 1.

Text of Proposition 1

This is the text you will see on your ballot:

“To address and combat the impact of climate change and damage to the environment, the ‘Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022’ authorizes the sale of state bonds up to $4.2 billion to fund environmental protection, natural restoration, resiliency, and clean energy projects. Shall the Environmental Bond Act of 2022 be approved?”

More details on Environmental Bond Act of 2022

From the New York State Board of Elections: The purpose of this proposal is to authorize the creation of state debt and the sale of state bonds in the amount of up to $4.2 billion for certain capital projects for the purpose of making environmental improvements that preserve, enhance, and restore New York’s natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change. If approved, the proposal would allow the State to borrow up to $4.2 billion to provide funding for capital projects for the following:

Here’s an overview with more details from Ballotpedia, a nonprofit and nonpartisan website that lists election information:

  • Up to $1.5 billion for air and water pollution reduction projects; wetland protections to address sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding; relocating or retrofitting facilities; green building projects; solar arrays, heat pumps, and wind turbines in public low-income housing areas; zero-emission school buses; street trees and urban forest programs; green roofs and reflective roofs; and carbon sequestration on natural and working lands.
  • At least $1.1 billion for flood-risk reduction, coastal and shoreline restoration, relocating and repairing flood-prone infrastructure and roadways, and ecological restoration projects.
  • Up to $650 million for land conservation and recreation plans, programs, and projects, as well as fish hatcheries.
  • At least $650 million for projects related to wastewater, sewage, and septic infrastructure; lead service line replacement; riparian buffers; stormwater runoff reduction; agricultural nutrient runoff reduction; and addressing harmful algal blooms.

The ballot measure would require that at least 35 percent of bond revenue benefit disadvantaged communities.

For Proposition 1

League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters of New York State outlines the pros as well as the cons of Proposition 1. The group supports the proposition.

Here is what the league says in favor of the measure:

  • Strengthen our economy: New York’s environmental programs support hundreds of thousands of good jobs across many industries including construction, agriculture, outdoor recreation and tourism. These programs also leverage billions in federal, local, and private dollars, which New York can’t afford to lose.
  • Protect clean air & water: The pandemic has once again demonstrated that clean air, clean water and access to nature are vital in protecting public health. Environmental programs help provide what every New Yorker needs: safe water to drink, clean air to breathe and green space where they live.
  • Advance environmental justice: Low-income families and communities of color suffer disproportionately from air pollution, exposure to toxins and lack of green space. Environmental justice programs help address these inequities.
  • Expand green space and restore natural habitats: New York’s environmental programs create parks, protect family farms, revitalize waterfronts, and restore habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife.
  • Reduce climate risks: Millions of New Yorkers are at risk from flooding, heat waves and shortages of food and water. The proposition can cut harmful pollution and help protect communities from the growing risks of global warming.

Coalition called Vote Yes for Clean Water & Jobs

Vote Yes for Clean Water & Jobs is a broad coalition formed to demonstrate the vast support for protecting clean water and creating jobs by passing Proposition 1.

These Western New York groups are listed as part of that coalition:

Against Proposition 1

League of Women Voters

While the League of Women Voters of New York State supports the Environmental Bond Act, it does point out some negatives:

  • The $4.2 billion made available by the 2022 Environmental Bond Act would not provide enough funding to fully support the state’s green energy transition under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Other sources of funding will be needed.
  • There is $300 million in unallocated funds. That may be viewed as a weakness, unless there is accountability and transparency regarding where these funds are spent.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party opposes the proposition. Gerard Kassar, New York State Conservative Party chairman, said that previous environmental bond acts still have millions of dollars unspent and that the state already has too much debt. See more here.

8 Comments on “You can vote on Environmental Bond Act: clean air, clean water, green jobs

  1. Yes Connie you’re absolutely right. In one article he was quoted as saying it was unspent, but what you posted says millions unspent, which appears to be correct. And I agree – there’s a multitude of projects that needs doing above what’s available from the ’96 monies. I also found a chart, from Riverkeeper I believe, that showed more detail on the kind of projects and amount allocated.

  2. Hi Mary, thank you for looking into this. In his statement, Gerard Kasser said that “previous environmental bond acts still have millions of dollars unspent.” You have found that 95 percent is spent, but there is still about $82 million left to spend. That seems to coincide with what Kasser is saying: that the state hasn’t spent all of the money yet; there is still money left to be spent. However, $82 million isn’t enough to cover all the projects outlined in Proposition 1. In my opinion, we don’t have to spend all the money allocated for one project before starting other projects. Thanks for your view.

  3. Hi Mark, thanks for sharing. I would note that this proposition is about more than just parks. It’s about things such as wastewater, sewage, and septic infrastructure–things that are important, but not flashy. Yes, there will be administrative costs, but I don’t think that’s a reason to ignore these important problems. I appreciate your view.

  4. Anyone have any more information on “previous environmental bond acts still have millions of dollars unspent”? I went to the site, but there was no additional information there at all.
    I did find an article with Mr. Kassar stating that the ’96 environmental bond act of $1.75b remains unspent, which is incorrect since the Hudson Park in Irvington was paid in part from that fund (first brownfield remediation project in NY) (https://rockinst.org/blog/new-yorks-environmental-bond-acts/) and also apparently to led to forest preserve purchases in the Catskills and Adirondacks; conserved land and water across the state including Hudson River Park in New York City and areas that provide clean drinking water to New Yorkers such as Sterling Forest and the Long Island Pine Barrens; New York’s first brownfield remediation program that cleaned up polluted sites from Long Island to Buffalo; and hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to projects that protected clean and safe drinking water and reduced air pollution (https://waterfrontalliance.org/2022/09/29/clean-water-resilience-justice-and-jobs-new-yorks-environmental-bond-act/). This handy article (https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/learning-from-a-1-75-billion-lesson) claims “Records show nearly 95% of the money is gone, but about $82 million remains and more than $100 million is still authorized to borrow.” I can’t personally guarantee any of these are 100% accurate, but it hardly seems like the ’96 bond is unspent…

  5. This is an absolute waste of money. NYS has a plethora of $$ set aside for parks, etc… And furthermore , so much of this money goes toward administrative costs and NOT actually SAVING the ENVIRONMENT!!!!! Don not vote in favor of this bill!!!!!

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