New York state voters have approved the Empire State’s first environmental bond act in nearly 30 years.
The measure — on the ballot as Proposition #1, the “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022” — will see the state sell $4.2 billion in bonds to fund a response to the climate crisis and other environmental problems.
“Voters have made history by supporting the state’s largest environmental bond act ever,” Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior attorney Kimberly Ong said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch. “This sets the stage for $4.2 billion in investments for clean and safe water, climate mitigation, environmental justice, and land conservation. These investments will address pressing environmental challenges — including replacing dangerous lead pipes, reducing air pollution by electrifying buses and buildings, restoring coasts to protect homes from floods, and much more.”
Polling ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections suggested that 54 percent of voters approved of the state’s first environmental bond since 1996. In fact, support surpassed earlier polling, with 67.33 percent voting yes at 76 percent reporting, according to Insider.
There was a broad coalition in support of the measure, which included Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, who also won her race, as NPR reported. It was also backed by environmental groups, labor unions and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, according to Gotham Gazette.
“We built a diverse and engaged coalition of over three hundred environmental organizations, unions and business groups that propelled this measure to success,” Jess Ottney Mahar of the Nature Conservancy said in a Vote Yes For Clean Water & Jobs Coalition statement, as Gotham Gazette reported. “Thanks to the work of this coalition, who handed out tens of thousands of palm cards, window signs and lawn signs, and enthusiastic New Yorkers, we have delivered the first environmental bond act in a generation.”
The measure will help the state meet previous environmental commitments such as the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which set a goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, ensuring 70 percent of electricity came from renewable sources by the same date, reaching 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050.
It will also pair with federal and state initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a record $400 million from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), according to NRDC.
The new projects the bond will support include:
- 100,000 jobs at wages that can support a family.
- Electric school buses.
- Energy efficient building retrofits and green roofs.
- Increasing the number of street trees and community gardens.
It also requires that at least 35 percent of the money goes towards marginalized neighborhoods.
“The passage of this measure will pay for projects that protect clean drinking water, tackle climate change and conserve natural resources while creating jobs and delivering environmental justice across New York State,” Ottney Mahar said in her statement. “Now we start the important work of implementation. Onward!”
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