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Letter: State budget is a win for our environment

State budget is a win for our environment

For anyone who cares about the air we breathe and the water we drink, this year’s state budget is one to celebrate. Thanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Environmental Conservation Committee Chairmen Assemblyman Steven Englebright and Sen. Thomas O’Mara, this year’s budget is a historic victory for New York’s environment.

An unprecedented level of funding – $300 million – has been dedicated to the Environmental Protection Fund, which will protect natural resources, create jobs and sustain New York as a special place to live and work for many years to come.

In addition, Cuomo and the State Legislature grew a program created last year and dedicated $350 million for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure grants, which provide communities funding to ensure clean water and public health.

These investments will touch down locally in Western New York. The EPF has supported local institutions including the Buffalo Zoo and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens; protected family farms in Amherst, Elma and Clarence; funded municipal recycling programs in most of Erie County’s towns; and paid for projects to reduce pollution entering the waterways. The first round of water infrastructure grants released last year included millions for a sewer project in Buffalo.

Given the wealth of treasured natural resources, parks and historic places in our region, these environmental investments in the budget hold much promise for the future of Western New York.

Jim Howe

Director, Central & Western New York Chapter

The Nature Conservancy