N.Y. Group Wants Environmental Fund Restored

Representatives from more than 40 organizations participating in the statewide Friends of New York's Environment partnership recently met with state lawmakers to call for the restoration of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

Gov. David Paterson's Executive Budget proposal for 2010-11 would cut the fund by 33 percent, or $69 million. This is the second consecutive year that the budget proposal has included a cut to the EPF. Last year, the proposal was rejected by lawmakers, who restored some funding and rejected a proposed sweep. The proposed 2010-11 cut would reduce the EPF from $212 to $143 million. Groups are calling on the New York State Legislature to reject the disproportionate reduction, which is larger than cuts proposed for other state programs and will put the health and safety of both the environment and the public at risk.

The EPF is the state's dedicated environmental trust fund that provides critical resources to protect water and air quality, update sewage treatment facilities, keep working farms running, preserve historic heritage, revitalize waterfronts, monitor pesticide use, and more. The Friends of New York's Environment requested that the fund's appropriation be restored to $222 million, the level set in last year's budget prior to the deficit reduction plan.

According to the groups, the Governor's budget proposal threatens the integrity of the EPF by cutting long-standing programs in half, zeroing out land acquisitions, and adding new programs without new funding. While important, the new programs were previously supported by revenue sources such as the General Fund and the State Parks Infrastructure Fund.

The EPF was created in 1993 as a dedicated trust fund to preserve New York's natural and historic heritage. It is primarily supported by revenue from the state's Real Estate Transfer Tax.

The Friends of New York's Environment is a broad partnership of more than 100 environmental, health, agricultural, recreational and community stakeholder groups committed to working together to secure increases in dedicated funding to protect land, air and water thereby safeguarding New Yorkers' health, economy and environment.

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