There is a lot on the line for environmentalists in the New York state budget.
They are looking to fund the state’s ambitious transition to green energy and they want to do it in a way that ensures racial and social equity.
But they are facing strong headwinds with the price of gas soaring, and enormous political pressure on the Biden and the Hochul administrations to bring down prices at the pump.
“There are a lot of things happening in the world right now that are putting a lot of pressure on us. Pressure from gasoline [prices] and inflation, but I think the reality is, the state is laying out that pathway right now,” Kate Kurera, the deputy director of Environmental Advocates NY, told Capital Tonight.
Kurera is referring to the Climate Action Council’s (CAC) draft scoping plan, which has been released for public comment. Plus, there are several proposals in the one-house budgets released this week that environmental groups are embracing.
“There are…historic things on the table at the moment. Most notably, the Environmental Bond Act,” said Kurera.
The “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” was passed in 2020 for $3 billion. Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed rounding it up to $4 billion. The state Assembly's one-house budget proposed $5 billion and the Senate one-house proposed $6 billion.
“We are looking forward to negotiating the biggest bond act possible,” Kurera said.
The bond act, if it passes in November, could fund climate mitigation, open space, water infrastructure and other clean water projects.
According to Kurera, environmental organizations are also focused on electrification investments.
“Funding climate, funding our transition off fossil fuels is really what we’re focused most on right now,” Kurera said. “We need to start electrifying our transportation and building sectors so there are direct investments for electrifying statewide fleets, electrifying public transit systems and, really exciting, a commitment amongst all the parties at the moment, to fully electrify school buses.”