Two seagulls have their back turned to the camera overlooking the Verrazzano Narrows bridge. A yellow tinted sky is in the background.
Two birds and a bridge Two seagulls are seen at sunset in front of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. © Anne Lhuillier/TNC Photo Contest 2021

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The Nature Conservancy Applauds Environmental and Climate Proposals Included in Governor Hochul's 2022 State of the State Address

In her State of the State address today, Governor Hochul demonstrated a strong commitment to prioritizing climate action and environmental protection through proposals that will implement New York’s nation-leading climate act, reduce harmful effects of flooding and deadly heat, protect clean drinking water, and conserve the natural resources New Yorkers depend on for good jobs, healthy food, and quality of life.

Governor Hochul included several proposals to conserve New York’s environment in her first State of the State Address, including increasing the environmental bond act, slated for the November 2022 general election ballot to $4 billion, making it New York’s largest-ever proposed bond measure. 

The Governor also expressed support for expanding protections for New York’s freshwater wetlands, an issue that conservation organizations, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and legislators have been discussing for years. Details of the proposal are still forthcoming. Current state and federal regulations leave out a million acres of small wetlands. Prior proposals would have protected these endangered areas, which provide habitat for wildlife and protect communities by reducing harmful flooding. 

In additional environmental proposals, the Governor signaled support for expanded funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), the state’s source of capital funding for environmental programs, now a $300 million appropriation, to safeguard clean water in the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserves. 

Jessica Ottney Mahar, The Nature Conservancy’s New York policy and strategy director said, “The Nature Conservancy applauds Governor Kathy Hochul for her proposal to increase the Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs Bond Act to $4 billion. This measure is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reduce harmful carbon pollution and protect communities from flooding and deadly heatwaves. The Bond Act will help us create a safer future by protecting clean drinking water, modernizing critical infrastructure, conserving family farms, and restoring wildlife habitats while providing access to nature for more people. It will also support more than 65,000 good jobs and allow New York to leverage federal, local, and private funding to improve quality of life for people across the state. We look forward to working with the Governor and State Legislature to help ensure voters have the chance to realize this historic opportunity in November.”

Ottney Mahar continued, “In addition to the Governor’s Bond Act proposal, The Nature Conservancy applauds Governor Hochul for prioritizing the protection of our natural resources, including the water we drink and the wetlands that protect us from harmful flooding and provide valuable habitat for a myriad of wildlife species. We look forward to reviewing her policy proposals in detail and continuing to support action on clean water and conservation.”

The Governor’s State of the State included a long list of planned investments and policy proposals to build a clean energy economy and improve public health and community safety in the face of our new climate reality. These include $500 million for offshore wind manufacturing, doubling New York’s energy storage goal to 6 gigawatts by 2030, reducing pollution from buildings by electrifying 2 million homes by 2030, and committing to zero on-site greenhouse gas emissions for new construction by 2027 through new, nation-leading building codes that will be proposed in legislation. The Governor’s address also focused on policies that will reduce emissions from the transportation sector, a leading source of carbon pollution in New York State, including a proposed $1 billion investment to support electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure. 

Echo Cartwright, The Nature Conservancy’s New York climate mitigation director said, “Governor Hochul has raised the bar on New York’s climate leadership. Her initiatives to establish a local supply chain for offshore wind energy, increase energy storage, and electrify two million homes, state vehicles, and school buses are all vital investments for a safe, clean, and healthy future. Local projects that tackle global warming and protect communities from escalating climate risks will also help reinvigorate New York’s economy by creating tens of thousands of good jobs and build the clean energy economy across the state. We commend Governor Hochul for her leadership and look forward to working with the Governor, Legislature, state agencies, and partners to help ensure these investments benefit every New Yorker.”

The Governor also proposed to continue investments in the Reimagine the Canals Initiative to boost economic development in Upstate New York, reduce harmful flooding, and protect wildlife habitat. The Nature Conservancy was a member of the Reimagine the Canals Initiative Task Force, which issued a report in January 2020 focused on utilizing one of the state’s most historic infrastructure assets in new ways to promote economic, environmental, and public health benefits. 

Stuart F. Gruskin, The Nature Conservancy’s New York chief conservation and external affairs officer said, “The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Hochul for delivering a State of the State with historic proposals for New York’s environment. The Reimagine the Canals Initiative presents previously unimaginable opportunities to prevent the spread of destructive invasive species, naturalize the Mohawk River, and address chronic flooding in vulnerable communities – all while promoting an inclusive, forward-looking vision for the canal that will support new upstate economic development initiatives along the canal system. We look forward to working with state agencies and other stakeholders to realize this vision.”

To learn more about the Conservancy’s work, visit nature.org/NewYork.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.