OSI Joins Broad Coalition of NYS Conservation, Business
Nearly 150 groups--including The Business Council, Farm Bureau & Empire State Forest Products Assocation--agree: EPF must be fully funded
ALBANY, NY--December 21, 2015--The Open Space Institute (OSI) joined nearly 150 organizations—from every corner of New York and representing some of the leading business, environmental and conservation groups in the state—in publicly calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to fully commit his support to New York's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) in the soon-to-be–announced 2016–2017 Executive Budget. The Friends of New York's Environment, a broad partnership of environmental, business, public health, agricultural, recreational and urban stakeholder groups, recently submitted the letter to Governor Cuomo asking him to restore the EPF to 2007 funding levels. In addition to OSI, signatories include The Business Council of New York State, The Nature Conservancy, Empire State Forest Products Association, Farm Bureau, Price Chopper, and the Open Space Institute, among many others.
“The Environmental Protection Fund is a critically important source of funding for protecting our state’s watersheds, farms, forests, parks and scenic landscapes,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “We urge Governor Cuomo to build upon last year’s increase and further expand funding for this vital program.”
“We believe that appropriating $300 million for the EPF in your next budget proposal will achieve a sustainable level of environmental conservation funding and put New York in a position of national leadership,” the letter states. “By further enhancing and restoring the EPF, we will generate economic activity and revenue, build green infrastructure, protect the environment and clean water, and create jobs in many sectors throughout New York State.”
Click here to view a copy of the letter.
A 2012 analysis by The Trust for Public Land found that for every $1 of EPF funds invested in land and water protection, $7 in economic benefits are generated for New York State, and EPF-supported industries generate approximately $40 billion in revenue every year. EPF programs and strategies are incredibly diverse, including land conservation, wetlands protection, urban forestry, sustainable waterfront planning, municipal parklands, and estuary restoration—all of which can improve coastal resilience and reduce storm impacts in communities. Additionally, capital investments made through the EPF support thousands of jobs in New York across a broad spectrum of industries, from tourism, recreation, agriculture and forest products to drinking water protection for millions of New Yorkers.
“Through the EPF New York is conserving and enhancing farms, forests, rivers, beaches, and lakes," the letter continues. “The EPF is supporting community parks, recycling and other solid waste reduction programs, and zoos and botanical gardens. EPF programs improve the prosperity of communities and quality of life for all New Yorkers by attracting businesses, creating jobs and protecting our water, air, and natural heritage.”
Earlier this month, a statewide bi-partisan public opinion poll shows that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support increasing public investment in the state’s environmental quality, including more than seven in ten (73%) voters who said they support fully funding the EPF at $300 million per year. Commissioned by OSI, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Council, and conducted by a bipartisan team of polling firms, the survey revealed extraordinary support statewide and across party lines in every demographic—confirming that voters understand investing in clean water, resilient infrastructure, and conserving natural resources are essential to building strong, healthy communities and economic prosperity in New York.
Among the survey’s other results included New York voters overwhelmingly favoring a new environmental bond measure (the last environmental bond act dates back to 1996). Notably, 70 percent of voters said they would vote “yes” on a $5 billion bond act to protect clean air and water in the state. Among an array of potential uses of conservation funding, protecting water quality and rebuilding failing infrastructure are top priorities for New York voters.
Support for investing in New York’s environment transcends party lines, is consistent across the state, and is important to all surveyed groups of voters. In fact, a majority of all voter segments surveyed support investments that will ensure water quality, help prepare for and cope with extreme weather events, and conserve our natural resources for future generations.