ALBANY — With his 2021 budget proposal this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a number of environmental and climate initiatives, which included a permanent ban on natural gas fracking.
Cuomo said New York will continue its record as the most aggressive climate leader in the world through a $33 billion five-year plan to combat climate change.
As part of his proposal, the Governor will introduce a bill to permanently ban fracking by amending environmental conservation law to restrict the Department of Environmental Conservation from approving permits that would authorize an applicant to drill, deepen, plug back or convert wells that use high-volume hydraulic fracturing to complete or re-complete natural gas resources.
Cuomo explained that the move would protect the health of New Yorkers, and permanently ensure that the environment is not harmed by the practice, adding that “this bill reflects an important step forward toward achieving New York’s clean energy economy goals.”
Additionally, Cuomo looks to continue his success with the ban of “single-use” plastic bags which is slated to go into effect March 1 this year.
New legislation would prohibit the use and distribution of stryrofoam food containers and packaging materials by Jan. 1, 2022.
Stating that his administration has set New York on course to achieve 70 percent renewable electricity by the end of the decade, Cuomo’s plan increases the use of $28 billion tax funds to develop, support and expand carbon-free energy production, build the infrastructure — such as transmission lines and energy storage.
The state’s climate budget would also allocate $370 million in tax funds to reduce carbon emissions, Cuomo said.
Appropriations of the $300 million in environmental protection funds include $39 million for solid waste programs, $89 million for parks and recreation, $152 million for open space programs and $20 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation program.
A $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act looks to reduce flood risk and improve flood resiliency.
This segment of the climate budget is reserved for connecting streams and waterways, right-sizing culverts and dams, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, reclaiming natural floodplains, restocking shellfish populations and upgrading fish hatcheries, preserving open space, conserving more forest areas, replanting more trees, reducing contamination from agricultural and storm water runoff, and expanding renewable energy.
Lastly, “to get more people out of cars,” Cuomo will propose legislation to legalize and expand e-bike and scooter use.