September 14, 2022
By: Denis Slattery | New York Daily News
ALBANY — Advocates are spending big to back a state plan to borrow $4.2 billion to help brace New York’s aging infrastructure against the effects of climate change.
The Vote Yes for Clean Water & Jobs Coalition is launching a seven-figure ad campaign encouraging New Yorkers to approve the green-minded bond act that will appear on ballots this November.
“New York stands on the brink of a historic opportunity to protect our water and air, shore up our water infrastructure, and improve the quality of life in every part of the state — all while supporting thousands of good-paying jobs and investing in disadvantaged communities,” said Julie Tighe, the president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, one of more than 200 organizations partnering to promote the proposal.
If approved by voters on Nov. 8, the measure would grant the state the ability to borrow $4.2 billion and use the funding for climate and environmental projects across the state.
It’s the first time in more than two decades that an environmentally-focused borrowing proposal will go before voters. In 1996, voters approved $1.75 billion in borrowing for the “protection of New York’s air, water and abundant natural resources.”
Supporters say the measure is invaluable and will protect clean drinking water, modernize aging infrastructure, create jobs, improve public health and safety, and conserve New York’s natural resources.
“Contaminants are showing up in our drinking water, and New York’s infrastructure systems weren’t designed to handle rising seas or the frequent, intense storms that are now common,” said Bill Ulfelder, New York executive director for The Nature Conservancy. “We must prepare now to face the future of an unstable climate, and the Bond Act is key to ensuring that we will be ready.”
The push by the Vote Yes for Clean Water & Jobs Coalition will begin with two video spots focusing on the bond act’s ability to help update New York’s outdated water infrastructure.
Upgrades to water and sewer systems prone to flooding during increasingly more common storms and deadly flash flooding would be a priority, supporters say.
The measure will also dedicate $1.1 billion to restoration and flood risk reduction, funding coastal rehabilitation and shoreline restoration projects across the state.
Another component of the act is the preservation and conservation of open space and natural areas, protecting areas of the state from over development. Roughly $1.5 billion of the borrowed funds will be used for green building projects, including investments for green infrastructure and renewable energy on SUNY, CUNY and community college buildings.
Additionally, the state is required to use 35% of bond act funds for the benefit of environmental justice communities.
The funding, which has broad union support, could lead to over 84,000 jobs and $8.7 billion in project spending, according to an economic impact analysis by AECOM.
“The Environmental Bond Act will provide the essential infrastructure upgrades that our state sorely needs for a sustainable future, which of course subsequently benefits all New Yorkers,” said Robert Wessels, the executive director of the General Contractors Association of New York.
“From fixing roads, to replacing lead pipes, and expanding clean energy projects, the programs that stem from the Bond Act will create good jobs, strengthen local economies, and solidify all New Yorkers have access to healthy land, clean air, and drinking water.”