Saranac Lake third stop in state climate ‘listening tour’
SARANAC LAKE — A statewide climate “listening tour” will make a stop in Saranac Lake on July 14 to detail how local governments and organizations could leverage funds from the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act.
The new bond act, which was approved by voters this past November, committed $1.5 billion in state funding to air and water pollution reduction and climate change mitigation, $1.1 billion for flood risk reduction, $650 million for water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure, $650 million for open space land conservation and recreation, and $300 million for additional projects in any of the aforementioned categories. The bond act states that 40% of the funds should benefit “disadvantaged” communities if practicable, but that those communities should otherwise benefit from “no less” than 35% of the total funds.
Right now, an “inter-agency working group” is identifying where environmental funding is needed across the state and developing a process to dole out funds from the bond act, according to a news release from Hochul’s office. The state’s listening tour is intended to give the public — and potential funding applicants — an opportunity to learn more about drafted eligibility guidelines for projects that could potentially be funded under the bond act. Sessions will feature a presentation on the bond act and an opportunity for one-on-one discussion with “state experts,” according to Hochul’s office.
“The listening tour will be instrumental in helping New York state combat climate change and grow our economy by providing an opportunity to discuss future projects that will create jobs, protect the environment, improve quality of life, and leave lasting benefits for our communities,” Hochul said in a statement Tuesday.
The climate listening tour kicks off on May 30 in Buffalo. Listening sessions will also take place at SUNY Cortland on June 8; at the University at Albany on July 20; at the Westchester County Center on Aug. 15; and at Suffolk County Community College on Aug. 24. The remaining four sessions — one in Brooklyn and another in the Bronx, as well as two virtual sessions — are expected to be announced at a later date. The environmental bond act listening session in Saranac Lake will run from 1 to 3 p.m. July 14 in North Country Community College’s Sparks Athletic Complex Alumni Gymnasium.
To register for the Saranac Lake listening session — or any of the other sessions that have been announced — visit www.ny.gov/bondact.
Ten out of 12 Adirondack counties — including Franklin and Essex counties — joined the more than 59% of voters statewide who voted in November to approve the bond act, which is the state’s largest-ever environmental bond and the first to be passed in New York since 1996. However, when the bond act passed, members of the state’s Conservative Party claimed it would bring new debt to the state during a time of high interest rates. The party has pointed out that the state has not finished spending the environmental bond act money it approved in 1996. Hochul’s listening tour for the new bond is being promoted as a way for the state to “advance” its use of the new bond act funds.
Funding from the bond act will be available to state agencies, local governments and qualifying community organizations, according to Hochul’s office. In April, Hochul announced the first round of spending from the bond act with the availability of $425 million in state water grants, which are funded by both the state budget and the new environmental bond act.