Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tell the State Legislature to Protect Our Environment
Protect Queens Environment
Op-Ed BY MARCIA BYSTRYN, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters
(Originally in the Queens Courier)
In this economic downturn, the necessity to exercise fiscal prudence could not be greater. However, when cuts to state programs are proposed, they must be done in an equitable manner. That is why Governor David Paterson’s proposal to disproportionately slash environmental funding is especially troubling and shortsighted.
For the next fiscal year, which starts in April, the governor has proposed a whopping 33 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) – that’s far larger than cuts proposed for other state programs and a move that will put the health and safety of both the environment and the public at risk.
The EPF pays for three main programs: protecting wildlife habitats, improving our parks and recreation, and tackling the state’s solid waste management challenges. Under a plan approved in 2007, this fund was supposed to receive $300 million in 2010. However, the Governor is proposing less than half that amount, just $143 million.
The Governor also wants an all-out ban on habitat purchases (at a time when prices are down by a quarter or even a third) along with a huge cut (40 percent) to our zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums. These institutions play a vital role in our urban environment by educating children and nurturing them as future stewards of our world.
The EPF also plays an important role in Queens’ economy, having funded over $5.3 million in work right here in recent years.
It has given more than $800,000 to Queens businesses and organizations, such as the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. and Long Island City Business Development Corp., to help institute recycling programs. The Community Environmental Center, based in Long Island City, received $250,000 to open a building materials reuse center that cuts down on waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Programs related to municipal parks in Queens, such as the development of the Alley Pond Nature Center, have received over $1.5 million. In addition, the borough’s extensive shoreline has benefited, with projects that give residents greater access to Jamaica Bay and improve the much-damaged wetlands near Flushing Creek.
This vital initiative – along with the green jobs it creates – is now in the hands of Queens’ legislators. The borough’s Senators and Assembly members play key leadership roles, and they have proven their environmental bona fides in the past. Let us hope we can count on them again in these tough times to protect the EPF, for our sake and for the sake of Queens’ long-term environmental health, too.
Use this form to contact them.