An environmental committee and subcommittee of the New York State Assembly are holding public hearing Friday morning in Albany. The purpose is to assess the budget’s impact on the Department of Environmental Conservation and the need for a new Environmental Bond Act.
The funding needed to upgrade New York’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure is estimated to be more than $70 billion over a 20-year period. In the past, environmental bonds have helped with the funding for capital projects yet the last Environmental Bond Act was approved in 1996. Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay, formerly a senior staffer at DEC’s Region 2 office during the Mario Cuomo and George Pataki administrations, will testify that it is necessary to secure funding to prevent the deep and permanent degradation of the state’s waterways. Gallay, who is also president of Westchester-based Riverkeeper, says that unless there is a funding increase for DEC programs and staff the state’s new catchphrase might have to be changed to “Open for Pollution” instead of “Open for Business”.