PRESS RELEASE FROM SCENIC HUDSON—Scenic Hudson applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “strong environmental leadership” in priorities he outlined in Tuesday’s State of the State address.
Chief among these is an unprecedented investment in water and wastewater infrastructure in the Hudson Valley and other parts of the state, and a renewal of a $300-million investment in the annual appropriation for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The governor also proposed creation of the Empire State Trail, linking the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail and Erie Canalway Trail, to extend recreational opportunities from New York City to destinations in western New York. The governor’s leadership is further demonstrated through his plans to close the Indian Point nuclear plant by 2021, make reductions in greenhouse gases and install more than 500 new charging stations throughout the state to promote electric vehicle use.
Gov. Cuomo’s investment to safeguard drinking water will be used to fund filtration systems, fix deteriorating pipes and protect water sources. His commitment to a $300-million EPF, consistent with last year’s appropriation—the highest in the fund’s history—will support collaborative efforts by municipalities and conservation groups to protect land, create parks and revitalize waterfronts. These conservation initiatives build on the governor’s unprecedented commitment to protecting working farms in the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program, which was included in the 2016 budget, enabled land trusts, county and local governments, and farmers to permanently protect more than 5,600 acres on 28 of the region’s food-producing farms.
To create the Empire State Trail, Gov. Cuomo proposes a $53-million appropriation in the upcoming budget, a down payment on the project’s overall $200-million cost. Roughly half of the proposed funding would be spent in the next year to complete portions of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail System, multi-use trails on both shores of the river whose routes extend from Manhattan to the northern borders of Washington and Saratoga counties. The governor expects to complete the Empire State Trail by 2020.
Shutting down Indian Point will improve the safety of nearly 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius of the outdated plant as well as prevent its antiquated cooling technology from killing billions of aquatic organisms each year, a major factor in the decline of numerous important fish species in the Hudson River. And the governor’s commitment to lowering New York’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030 and providing additional vehicle charging stations furthers his national leadership in confronting climate change.
“Governor Cuomo continues to build on his stellar environmental leadership with this investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. In the Hudson River Valley and other parts of the state, failing wastewater systems are a top source of pollutants, depriving people of the opportunity to swim and enjoy the inspiring experience of clean water; at the same time, drinking water sources are at risk. Governor Cuomo’s proposal will not only make a major investment in solving these problems, it will also create jobs and opportunities for economic development in our city and town centers. Bravo to Governor Cuomo for this win-win initiative,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.
Mr. Sullivan continued, “I also applaud Governor Cuomo’s plan for the Empire State Trail—and completion of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail—which will boost the valley’s tourism economy by greatly enhancing recreational opportunities. Last but certainly not least, the governor’s success in negotiating the closure of Indian Point and his proven ability to bring partners together to implement Environmental Protection Fund grants represent new and important environmental milestones in New York’s history. Together, these actions will protect and restore the state’s natural and ecological treasures, and allow communities to take advantage of exciting new economic opportunities. Scenic Hudson looks forward to continuing our work with the Cuomo administration to carry out these and other groundbreaking environmental initiatives.”