More than 1,000 New Yorkers Attended In-Person and Virtual Educational Presentations Across the State
Additional Opportunities to Provide Input on Bond Act Implementation Continue, Including Submitting Project Ideas and Commenting on Funding Guidelines
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the conclusion of the successful 10-stop educational listening tour for the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act and encouraged New Yorkers to continue staying engaged in the implementation of this historic funding opportunity. The educational listening tour is just one part of the State's commitment to a collaborative and transparent process in the delivery of Bond Act funds. The sessions provided an opportunity for the public and potential funding applicants to learn more about the Bond Act and to begin discussions on the guidelines being developed to identify potential projects. The next phase of involvement is already underway, with project ideas being solicited to gauge the interests and needs of communities, particularly those most vulnerable to pollution and climate impacts, and ongoing opportunities for the public to comment on guidelines for existing or new programs to distribute funding.
“I thank the New Yorkers who came out to learn more about this once-in-a-generation funding opportunity that will help transform and protect our communities from the environmental, economic, and public safety challenges caused by climate change,” Governor Hochul said. “Our state is committed to ensuring this initiative remains collaborative and transparent so we can tailor programs to successfully deliver these necessary resources to our government and community-based partners.”
The educational listening tour engaged stakeholders and other interested New Yorkers during eight in-person and two virtual listening sessions by providing opportunities to learn about the types of projects the Bond Act can support, the funding available for each category, information about the prioritization of benefits to disadvantaged communities, and the formation of eligibility guidelines as the next step in the implementation process.
Representatives from local governments, environmental justice and other community advocacy organizations, economic development representatives, and residents impacted by flooding and other climate impacts were among more than 1,000 attendees who joined Commissioners and other state agency leaders during the presentations and opportunities to listen to questions and concerns. Agencies that participated in the sessions included the Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Environmental Facilities Corporation, Office of General Services, Housing and Community Renewal/Resilient Homes and Communities, Adirondack Park Agency, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the State University of New York and City University of New York, among others.
The State also created a web-based survey - https://bit.ly/BondActSurvey - to collect potential project ideas from all potential applicants and interested stakeholders. Hundreds of entries have been collected to date and the survey will remain open until at least Sept. 15, 2023. The survey is not a formal funding application, but instead helps municipalities, community-based organizations, and other New Yorkers share potential projects and input about the State's existing funding mechanisms to help collect feedback about the types of projects communities may want supported with Bond Act resources.
Overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall, the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act is the largest environmental bond in state history and the first in New York since 1996. The Bond Act makes $4.2 billion available for environmental and community projects that also support job creation and a substantial investment in the Clean Green Schools initiative that will serve more than 1,000 under-resourced public schools. Recognizing that vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by negative environmental and climate change impacts, 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of Bond Act benefits will be directed toward disadvantaged communities.
Specifically, the Environmental Bond Act authorizes:
- $1.5 billion for climate change mitigation;
- $1.1 billion for restoration and flood risk reduction;
- $650 million for water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure;
- $650 million for open space land conservation and recreation; and
- $300 million for other projects not specifically allocated in the Act.
State agencies, local governments, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders will be able to access Bond Act funding over a multi-year process. An inter-agency working group is currently identifying needs for environmental funding across the state and developing program logistics for Bond Act implementation. All proposed eligibility guidelines are released for a public comment period, as noted in the current opportunity available to guide at least $500 million in funding for zero-emission school buses and infrastructure.
Following the public comment period for draft eligibility guidelines for water infrastructure funding, Governor Hochul announced the availability of the first round of Bond Act monies earlier this summer, with $200 million included with other state water infrastructure funding for a total of $425 million. The application deadline closed earlier this month after a two-week extension to allow more communities hit hard by flooding in July to apply. Applications are now being reviewed, but other Bond Act programs and funding opportunities will continue to be available, as well as ongoing opportunities for state and federal funding that are offered regularly.
New Yorkers interested in learning more about the Bond Act can find general information about the $4.2 billion landmark initiative at the Bond Act website at www.ny.gov/BondAct. The site also includes recordings of the two virtual meetings, general information about existing state and federal funding programs that complement the Bond Act objectives and could help leverage Bond Act funds, and a link to the project ideas survey, among other information. The site will continue to be updated and interested individuals can also join a mailing list for updates at [email protected].
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The listening tour was an excellent opportunity to connect with hundreds of New Yorkers across the state and not only educate them about the Bond Act’s specific charge, but hear how they envision bringing Bond Act resources to fruition in their communities. I encourage all stakeholders to continue engaging with DEC and our partners as we develop the foundation for the Bond Act to support lasting projects that will benefit our state for generations.”
New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "The Bond Act listening tour has been an enlightening chance to hear from local governments, community partners and individuals from across New York about the environmental projects their communities need most. I look forward to continuing these conversations as we begin launching the projects to create a healthier environment, further environmental justice, address climate change, and expand access to outdoor recreation."
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “It’s important that decisions about how New York State will invest this historic Bond Act funding consider the ideas, input and experiences of all New Yorkers. The educational listening tour provides a way to ensure communities, especially those that have historically been left behind, are aware of the available funding, and have a voice in which critical projects we look to advance to ensure a cleaner and healthier way of life for residents and businesses.”
New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, “Engaging with New Yorkers on the 10-stop tour provided crucial feedback and created meaningful connections between state experts and communities about the significant funding available through the Bond Act. This collaborative process furthered EFC’s Community Assistance Teams outreach to connect small, rural and disadvantaged communities with funding opportunities for water and sewer infrastructure, and we are eager to help communities undertake their critical projects.”
New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “The input gained during the listening tour will ensure that community voices shape how the State uses Bond Act resources to promote environmental justice, protect vulnerable infrastructure, and create jobs. OGS is proud of its role in supporting Governor Hochul’s effort to include New Yorkers in our work to build healthier, more sustainable infrastructure.”