In his state of the state, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out plans for new agricultural summits, but some environmental advocates feel ignored.
Governor Cuomo outlined a strategy to protect New York’s infrastructure from extreme weather. Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway is pleased that the Governor talked about climate change and the need to make communities and the natural environment more resilient. But he says little else about the environment was discussed. “The Adirondack Council liked the parts about improving the rural infrastructure and tourism, but we didn’t like that we didn’t hear much about investing in the quality of the state’s environment. There was a concern and raised flags with the discussion of regulatory reform. Because if that’s not done right we’re compromising the very environmental resources that are the basis for keeping the Adirondacks wild and the basis for a strong economy up here in the North Country.”
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton says the governor’s speech hit on a number of points of interest to the agriculture sector, including changing the estate tax threshold and lowering the corporate tax rate. The Governor noted the success of previous agricultural summits and is planning a new summit to link upstate farm producers with downstate consumers. Norton says it’s a great opportunity for industry and agencies to find markets for products. “Folks in downstate New York want to have upstate New York products in New York City and on lower Long Island. But there are impediments for our New York producers to getting that stuff there. Whether it’s tolls going across the bridges, whether it’s weight limit restrictions for our milk haulers going to the city with milk, or whether it’s just the various rules and regulations. There’s an opportunity to feed 12-million New Yorkers with New York products.”
Scenic Hudson is praising the initiatives outlined by Governor Cuomo. President Ned Sullivan says the Governor’s focus is job creation while maintaining healthy farms and environmental stewardship. “The Governor has really shown a commitment to integrating job creating and investing in what we call the green infrastructure of the state and the Hudson Valley. So, that’s our waterfront, that’s our tourism industry, that’s our agriculture and our wastewater and water infrastructure. So I think this is a major, very positive step forward for the Governor.”
Sullivan adds that the governor proposed a promising energy initiative. “He is going to give preference and expedited permit review to transmission line proposals that are built within existing utility corridors. So this is going to go a long way in addressing concerns of people who have concerns with many of the proposals that have emerged under his energy highway proposal.”
The New York League of Conservation Voters Spokesman Dan Hendrick says the Governor missed a chance to advance a strong environmental vision. “The state of the state did include some important environmental issues, particularly in the areas of clean energy and climate resiliency. But New York needs to really begin to forge sort-of a bolder vision that will make New York an environmental leader.”
The Adirondack Council is among numerous groups calling on Governor Cuomo to increase funding to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to $200 million dollars.