In November of 2022, New York voters will have the chance to approve the largest Environmental Bond Act in the history of the state.
Passed as part of the state’s 2021-to-2022 budget, reauthorization of the Environmental Bond Act will provide $3 billion to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure, improve parks, and help communities around the state prepare for more frequent floods, rising seas and more extreme temperatures.
Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy and strategy director at The Nature Conservancy in New York, called the bond act a tremendous step forward for New York’s future.
“It means cleaner water, a safer community in the face of climate change, action to reduce the pollution that causes climate change,” said Mahar, “and also more conservation of our natural resources.”
She added the Environmental Bond Act, which had been part of the budget last year but was removed because of the pandemic, has the support of almost three-quarters of New Yorkers.
Mahar pointed out that the Environmental Bond Act also has a strong environmental justice component.
“A third of the bond act, $1 billion, will be directed to the communities that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution in the past,” said Mahar. “So, that’s a really nice new feature of this bond act.”
She said the bond act will protect or create an estimated 65,000 good-paying jobs in New York, helping the economy recover from the COVID pandemic.
Mahar noted that the bond act has the support of a large and diverse coalition that includes environmental and business groups, labor organizations, community groups and local municipalities.
“I think people realize that this is an opportunity to move projects forward that really better a lot of communities,” said Mahar, “help a lot of people, keep people healthier, create jobs, and this is something that is widely supported.”
In addition to the bond act the budget also includes $500 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, and $440 million for projects in state parks and historic sites.