Highest-Ever Amount of Funding Available to Help Municipalities Adopt Green Infrastructure, Greenhouse Gas Reduction, and Storm Resiliency Initiatives
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a record $14 million is now available for the Climate Smart Communities Grant program to help municipalities take action to address climate change. Funding is available for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the ongoing impacts of climate change, including reducing flood risk, increasing natural resiliency, and relocating or retrofitting critical infrastructure.
"From hurricanes like Sandy and Ida, to seven feet of snow in Buffalo, we have seen our weather continue to grow more extreme each year, and it is critical that we support local efforts in protecting communities from the effects of climate change," Governor Hochul said. "This record funding will help empower local governments to take bold action to meet the challenges driven by our changing climate, and help meet ambitious goals while setting an example for other municipalities to follow. New York will continue to support critical initiatives that will make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers while contributing to our State's nation-leading climate efforts."
Established in 2016, the State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Climate Smart Communities Grant Program is a 50/50 matching program. It supports municipalities seeking to become certified Climate Smart Communities and implement projects that advance the State's climate change goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating flood risk, and helping to prepare for extreme weather. The program supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires New York reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Since the program's inception, DEC awarded more than $50 million to municipalities in support of local climate mitigation and adaptation projects. More information about this grant program is available on the DEC website.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "The successful Climate Smart Communities program has helped countless municipalities across the state do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the dangerous impacts of climate change. This additional and highest ever amount offered, helps build on Governor Hochul's deep commitment to provide the resources communities need to adopt various climate initiatives while continuing New York's most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation."
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Building a healthier and more resilient New York starts with action at the local level, and we are thrilled to see the Climate Smart Communities Grant program expand. Communities across our state have shown strong commitments to mitigating the impacts of climate change, and this additional funding will allow for even more localities to get involved as we work together to establish our green future."
Up to $12 million is available for grants of between $50,000 and $2 million for implementation of projects that could include:
- Reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT);
- Reducing food waste;
- Reducing hydrofluorocarbon emissions from refrigeration and other cooling equipment;
- Increasing natural resiliency through restoration or preservation of wetlands and floodplains;
- Reducing future flood-risk, including by relocating or retrofitting critical infrastructure; and
- Preparing for extreme weather events.
In addition, up to $2 million is available for certification grants of between $10,000 and $200,000 for planning, inventory, and assessment projects that are aligned with 19 specific Climate Smart Communities Certification actions in the areas of greenhouse gas mitigation, climate adaptation, and land use.
Applications are due by 4 p.m. on July 29, 2022. To apply for this latest round of grants, visit the New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA), which is available online: https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/
These grants are part of a larger program to support community engagement in local climate action. There are currently 356 registered Climate Smart Communities, representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers. To be designated a registered community, municipalities make a commitment to act on climate change by passing a formal resolution that includes a 10-point pledge. Since 2014, more than 90 municipalities completed the rigorous review process to be designated as certified Climate Smart Communities. These certified communities have gone beyond the pledge to complete and document a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level. More information about the certification program is available online: https://climatesmart.ny.gov/
At an event held today in Saugerties, a bronze-certified Climate Smart Community, DEC Commissioner Seggos celebrated the awarding of funding for an innovative project in 2021 that was the first use of grant funding to support the use of alternatives to common refrigerants that are potent greenhouse gases. DEC provided more than $269,000 to help the town replace an outdated chiller at the Kiwanis Ice Arena with a new, more efficient chiller that uses an ammonia-based refrigerant that will result in an annual reduction of more than 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Commissioner Seggos toured the site today in advance of the final New York State Climate Action Council public hearing being held tonight in Peekskill to learn about different ways New York State is incorporating greenhouse gas emissions reductions and climate resiliency into projects.
The Climate Smart Communities funding programs are supported by the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Among the many environmental victories in the 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Hochul succeeded in increasing the EPF from $300 to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program's history and includes a $4.7-million increase for Climate Smart Community projects for a total of $15 million. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects our water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp up clean energy including over $33 billion in 102 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035.
Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
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