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Cuomo votes down boost to Environmental Protection Fund

December 19, 2012
By MIKE LYNCH - Outdoors Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have bolstered the state's Environmental Protection Fund.

The bill was one of 18 he vetoed and 12 that he approved yesterday.

The EPF bill would have transferred money from unclaimed bottle deposits from the general fund to the EPF.

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The amount of money going toward the EPF would have been $10 million in the 2013-14 budget year and would have increased by $10 million each year until 2018-19. At that point, the amount from bottle deposits would have stabilized at $56 million annually.

This bill doesn't effect the current standing of the EPF, which was approved at $134 million this past budget year.

The EPF funds many of the state's environmental programs. In the Adirondacks, it is well known for funding the state's acquisition of Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands. However, the land acquisition monies make up just a small percentage of the EPF budget. It is also used for programs that focus on stormwater and wastewater treatment, aquatic habitat restoration, farmland protection, agricultural non-source pollution control and waterfront revitalization projects, just to name a few.

Cuomo defended his decision in a statement accompanying the veto. He said he's made protecting the EPF a central part of his administration.

"Even in the face of a $10 billion budget deficit in my first year in office and a substantial budget deficit last year, I protected the EPF and maintained the current funding level. Prior to my administration, the EPF was cut for general budget relief, and those cuts to the EPF were adopted by the Legislature," read Cuomo's statement. "I am committed to finding additional ways to strengthen the EPF and will work with the Legislature to do so. However, any changes to its funding should be discussed in the broader context of planning for the State Fiscal year; such changes should not be enacted as an ad hoc measure divorced from the state's financial plan."

The decision to veto the bill was criticized by at least one environmental organization.

"We certainly hope the Governor will announce a renewed commitment to environmental programs, including the EPF, in his Executive Budget," Environmental Advocates of New York stated in a press release.

The group said the veto "does illustrate a disconnect that sometimes exists between (Cuomo's) public statements and his subsequent actions." The group noted that Cuomo said in November that he was committed to making this state better prepared for storms, rising sea levels and other disruptions that are part of climate change, and that this funding could go toward those purposes.



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