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.


Anonymous said...

Look, its a nice point, dear Queens paper, but your real interest is to bash the governor, not fiscal responsiblity.

If it were, you would criticize throwing millions down the throat of the real estate industry keeping alive an unsustable boom, while everything else is being starved.

You would criticise supporing the Machnine by bringing the world to Queens so we have to take care of the tweeded needs when American citizens have unmet wants.

And finally you would criticise the city council for ... well ... where do we start?

Klink Cannoli said...

Marcia Bystryn wrote:
"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."

Why should cuts be done in an equitable manner? A rational and wise person, whose concern lies in the greater good of the people and the earth in which they inhabit, would approach this differently. The criteria for budgeting programs should be made according to the importance and weight of the need to the populace.

Budgeting government programs should be no different than budgeting a common household. "Fairness" and "equity" are feel good words for a Marxist ideology.

- "a move that will put the health and safety of both the environment and the public at risk."

Notice where Ms. Bystryn places the importance of people. Environment comes first, people second. That's a classic Freudian slip of the pen. It exposes her true concerns... the EP Funds. Without those funds, she will have less power.

The whole environmental movement has become a nefarious boondoggle.

Queens Crapper said...

Without a healthy environment, you won't have healthy people. So it should come first.

Klink Cannoli said...

Sorry QC, I disagree. It's a symbiotic relationship with man at its helm. I advocate responsible treatment and respect for nature. If I have to decide between nature and man, man comes first.

Queens Crapper said...

Sorry, but I believe that's how the environment got messed up in the first place.

Klink Cannoli said...

Chicken or the egg premise.

We may have a simple disagreement in the philosophy of who the steward of the earth should be. I'm on the side of the people.

In this post, the issue is funding for environmental projects. Or really Ms. Bystryn's pitch to garner power through funding. Rationalizing using equity as a base. I believe it should be rationalizing using weight of importance in consideration of the people. A more ethical view.

Queens Crapper said...

I don't see how she gains power through the EPF. It was to be spent on zoos, aquariums, and potentially on several projects here in Queens, like the expansion of Travers Park and acquisition of the St. Saviour's site.

Klink Cannoli said...

It's the old adage, follow the money.

She's the President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. The organization's directive as stated on their site...

"NYLCV is a non-partisan, policy making and political action organization that works to make environmental protection a top priority with elected officials, decision-makers and the voters by evaluating incumbent performance and endorsing and electing environmental leaders to office in New York State."

The less funding there is available for the organization's sponsored goals, projects and politicians, the smaller their sphere of influence will be. More funding, more influence, more power.

It's another form of tweeding.

Queens Crapper said...

Oh they certainly have an agenda, but the projects they advocate for have a direct positive benefit on the people living in the community who get to enjoy the parkland created, preserved and funded.

Queens Crapper said...

Wait a minute...

Celebrating a Greener New York Spring Gala

"This year we are pleased to welcome Mayor Michael Bloomberg as our keynote speaker."


Klink Cannoli said...

-"the projects they advocate for have a direct positive benefit on the people living in the community who get to enjoy the parkland created, preserved and funded."

I total agree here, QC.

But look at the advocacy mailer you linked to at the bottom of the post. It's even more directly stated there. And I'm giving the org the benefit of the doubt in using accurate figures.

- "Whereas other state agencies are facing proposed cuts between 10 and 12 percent, the governor wants to cut the EPF by 33 percent."

That's the crux. Who's to say 33% is not warranted and just? They are, of course. I suspect it cuts into their coffers directly as well.

Queens Crapper said...

The state legislature is to say whether it is warranted and just because they are the ones who vote on the final budget. And we send them to Albany to represent us. So if we contact them to let them know our position, they should listen to us, especially since they unanimously approved expanding the fund 3 years ago.

Klink Cannoli said...

Exactly! So why do we even need an org like the NYLCV? Get rid of them. Unneeded political bureaucracy.

- "we contact them to let them know our position"

In using that form you commit to the NYLCV agenda.

If free people want to petition their legislatures, let them. They don't need political advocacy groups to speak or have their voices heard.

Me, I'd be happy to see most of all these environmental groups/institutions slashed. Perfect time to do it. They've grown too big and too powerful.

Queens Crapper said...

If you're calling them lobbyists, fine. But lobbyists are a part of freedom of speech & expression and offer a way to accomplish redress of grievances. The Supreme Court said so.

Also, this issue would not be as well known if they weren't calling attention to it. Personally, I am grateful for the info.

Anonymous said...

All right people, you are on notice--your mother doesn't work for the Parks Department, Botanical Garden or Zoo.

When you visit, bring your damn trash out, no one will be there to pick up after you. Stay on the paths so the few left to re-seed the grass aren't overwhelmed. Leave the graffiti marking tools at home, and for Gods sake, volunteer some free time and toss any extra sheckels you have laying around into the donation box.

This sux, but we are in for it for a few years. I already viewed this movie in the 1970's and the ending wasn't pretty then either.

Babs said...

I LOVE the pic of that groundhog though - intensely cute being that he is.