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New Yorkers vote in favor of the Environmental Bond Act

Author and activist Bill McKibben paddles toward Follensby Pond in New York's Adirondack Mountains, along the route followed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the summer of 1858.
Julia Ferguson
/
NCPR
Author and activist Bill McKibben paddles toward Follensby Pond in New York's Adirondack Mountains, along the route followed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the summer of 1858.

The $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act received majority support across the state of New York on Tuesday's midterm election. 60% of New York voters supported the legislation. Lawmakers have promised that the act will not result in a tax increase.

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“I think New York is really on the forefront of environmental protection in America," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group on Long Island.

The act contains various allocations that break up into four main categories. $650 million will go toward clean water initiatives, $650 million to open space land conservation, $1.1 billion flood risk reduction, and $1.5 billion to climate change mitigation.

Esposito said that coastline resiliency efforts will be pivotal in protecting the Long Island’s shores.

“We need to strengthen our wetlands, we need to make sure that we are prepared for sea level rise and coastal flooding and intense storms,” she said.

Another pressing environmental issue across Long Island is clean water. Esposito said that as of now, Maine and Massachusetts have stricter cumulative standards for being exposed to toxic PFA’s or “Forever Chemicals” in drinking water. She hopes that with this new funding, New York can up its game.

“Without clean water, particularly on Long Island, in beaches, bays and estuaries we will not have a thriving economy. The tourism dollar is critical to our local and regional economy and our jobs,” she said.

Julie Tighe is the president of the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV). She said that record numbers of candidates have sought the organization’s endorsement.

“They’re coming to us about our endorsement because voters are caring more and more about protecting the environment and making sure that we’re fighting climate change,” said Tighe.

While the $4.2 billion price mark is hefty, Tighe adds that the various environmental initiatives will save New Yorkers money and advance the economy.

In an effort to fulfill the environmental initiatives, the act will result in many “green” job openings. The NYLCV Vote Yes for Clean Water and Jobs Coallition includes labor needs in construction, engineering, and plumbing. A study done by their partner organization projects that the bond act will create 84,000 jobs, many of which will be in the construction industry.

“It’s a win for the environment, it’s a win for the economy, and it’s a win for our families and our communities,” she said.

Lauren is a news intern at WSHU for the fall of 2022.