ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — We’re just two weeks away from the general election. One thing you may not know that will be on the ballot: The Environmental Bond Measure. This would be a $4.2 billion multi-year investment in clean water, air, wildlife and the environment. The Bond Act was previously approved in the 2020 budget, but had to be pulled back due to the COVID-19 financial crisis. If approved by New Yorkers, this would be the first of its kind since 1996.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos explained what exactly this money would go towards, “Projects to reduce flooding, to increase resiliency in communities, to add water infrastructure, set aside land for the purpose of protecting the environment, and also mitigate some of the effects of climate change.” Seggos says this investment would help to avoid billions of dollars in future recovery efforts after severe storms.
The proposal also requires 35% of funds be invested in communities that are known to deal with pollution and have little environmental spending. So where exactly would the money for this project come from? “The state would take out bonds, and in fact if we sell those bonds in the open market, use those proceeds to underwrite projects around the state. I have no doubt that when this ask goes out to the markets that the state will be given these opportunities,” said Seggos.
Jeremy Cherson, a spokesperson for Riverkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization said this funding could help pay for projects on the Hudson River, which he says has experienced certain fish extinction. “You might be thinking ‘oh, well what does a fish have to do with me?’ Well the Hudson River is a huge economic driver in this state, people come from all over to fish striped bass, they fish all kinds of other species in the river and it’s a big economic driver,” said Cherson.
Patrick Bailey, Communications Director for The Business Council of New York also points to the economic benefits this would provide. “We think that the investments in The Bond Act are going to produce new good paying jobs and provide investment and work opportunities all across New York State because really that’s what the bond act does it touches on communities pretty much all across New York State,” he said.
However not all are on board including Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, “We all want clean air, water and natural resources. But when people can’t afford groceries and gasoline, when home heating costs are spiking, is now really the time to ask voters to sign off on $4.2 billion?”
If enacted, The Bond Act is projected to create 84,000 jobs. When you vote at the polls the option to vote yes or no will be on the back side of your ballot listed as “Prop 1, Clean Water & Jobs.”