Providing billions for environment

Environment is on the ballot next Tuesday


Election Day is just around the corner, but what many may not know is that there is more on the ballot this year than just seats in the state and federal governments.

Residents of New York state will also have the chance to vote on some of the most important environmental legislation in over two decades.
Proposition One, a statewide ballot proposal, contains the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. According to local environmental groups, it has the potential to completely change the state of environmentally focused development in New York.

The act, if passed, would authorize the use of roughly $4.2 billion for specific projects focusing on environmental improvements to protect New York’s natural resources and beauty and reduce the growing impact of climate change.

The projects would include restoration and flood risk reduction, open space land conservation, climate change mitigation, water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure. The $4.2 billion is broken down into segments for each of the projects; for example, up to roughly $1.5 billion is set aside specifically for climate change mitigation.

According to Michelle Lapinel McAllister, programs director at Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor in Sea Cliff, this legislation is one of the most important political opportunities to protect New York’s environment in decades.

“This is a great opportunity for people to use their voices and say ‘Yes, we want to support the environment in this way,’” Lapinel McAllister said. “This will provide money up front to pay for critical environmental infrastructure.”

Members of the coalition and other local similar organizations have been working since September to educate the North Shore community the importance for voting for Prop 1 when they cast their ballots on Nov. 8. The coalition held a press conference in early September and is putting out email blasts informing neighbors of how much is at stake.

One of the most important reasons the coalition and other groups have been trying to reach people about Prop 1 is to alert them that it is on the reverse side of the ballot. This has led to fears that, like students forgetting to check the back of a test, voters will accidentally miss or overlook the chance to vote for it.

Oyster Bay’s Friends of the Bay has also been reaching out to community members to stress the importance of passing Prop 1. Heather Johnson, executive director of Friends of the Bay, explained the importance of making sure voters are aware of the proposition.

“Clean air and clean water are fundamental necessities. There couldn’t be anything more important than clean water and clean air,” Johnson said. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to vote for our health, for the health of our waterways.”

She also emphasized the economic aspect of the proposition, asserting that it will enable the creation of tens of thousands of new, and most importantly green jobs.

“It’s not every day that you have something that’s going to be good for the environment and good for the economy,” she said.

Lisa Cashman, associate director of the coalition, stressed that although the funding in the proposition will be used throughout New York state, it would still be able to make a huge impact across many municipalities on Long Island. She encouraged voters to investigate the proposed proposition,which can be found online.

“All of the water resource infrastructure, green spaces and a million other different things are covered in this bill,” Cashman said. “It’s a smart investment into green jobs, and infrastructure and all the things to preserve the environment.”