Equilibrium & Sustainability

New York’s Hochul seeks clean energy boost in $216B budget

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is seeking to boost investment in clean energy and other environmental initiatives as part of her proposed $216 billion budget released this week.

The climate proposals include a $4 billion measure aimed at helping revive environmental habitats, reduce flood risks, conserve open spaces, protect water resources and invest in pollution mitigation, Hochul’s office said in a news release.

The Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Act would also support an investment in the Clean Green Schools initiative, which the governor’s office said would reach every public school situated in a disadvantaged community.

The budget also includes $500 million to develop offshore wind and port infrastructure that seeks to create 2,000 jobs, along with $500 million to support clean water infrastructure and $400 million for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.

Hochul’s proposal allocates $17 million in funding for a phased electrification of the state vehicle fleet by 2035, while requiring the purchase of only zero-emissions school buses by 2027.

As part of a broader $25 billion allocation for housing, the budget contains a provision to electrify a 50,000 homes. New York state has plans to electrify 1 million homes in total and make another million homes electrification-ready. 

“We’re going to confront that climate crisis with the urgency that is required,” Hochul said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

“That’s why my budget includes $4 billion for the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act and the largest ever investment in the Environmental Protection Fund,” she said. “We must speed up our transition to clean energy.” 

The climate provisions are among a variety of issues that would receive significant funding in Hochul’s budget, including rebuilding and strengthening the health care and teacher workforce, boosting available tax relief to individuals and businesses, combating gun violence, addressing addiction and increasing childcare subsidies.

Liz Moran, a New York policy advocate for Earthjustice, applauded the governor’s climate initiatives, calling it a “starting point.”

“The Governor’s proposed budget offers an important starting point on efforts to address the climate crisis and protect public health; however, the legislature should view this as the floor — not the ceiling,” Moran said in a statement.

In order for New York to meet its climate goals, Moran stressed that the budget should include at least $15 billion in climate funding. She also suggested dedicating more funds toward electrification of affordable housing, trucks and buses, while “prioritizing the needs of disadvantaged communities.”

“It will be crucial for the legislature to improve and build upon what the governor has offered,” Moran added. “Earthjustice looks forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to ensure the final SFY2022-23 budget rises to the challenge New Yorkers face from the climate crisis and other environmental harms.”

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