Environmental Bond Act Should Be An Easy Sell
We question The Post-Journal’s reluctance to support Proposition 1: The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, which will be on the ballot in New York this November. In its October 25 column, “Environmental Act is a Tough Sell,” the paper’s editors affirm that the Bond Act is “a good idea” in theory, and that bonds are an appropriate use of state dollars, yet take issue with the labor requirements for paying workers prevailing wages, suggesting that this is the “wrong time to add $4.2 billion in debt to New York’s budget.” Additionally, the Observer’s position reflects an overall distrust of our state government’s ability to wisely spend and track funds.
While the paper’s editors agree that we are in a dire crisis due to changes in our climate, they project that the cost of significant action is just too high. This ignores the cost to us if we do nothing. Hurricane Sandy alone cost $32 billion. Hurricane Ian is projected to cost $67 billion. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Federal wildfire suppression costs in the United States have spiked from an annual average of about $425 million from 1985 to 1999, to $1.6 billion from 2000 to 2019, according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center.” This does not include the cost in human lives. Inaction holds a cost too high to pay. We ask, when will there be a better time to invest in our children’s future, and to make New York State a leader in environmental action among the states?
The proposed Bond Act would allow NYS to carry debt and sell bonds up to a total of $4,200,000,000 for certain capital projects for the purpose of making environmental improvements that preserve, enhance, and restore New York’s natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change. Projects under the Bond Act would include Climate Change Mitigation (including money for electrifying school buses); Restoration and Flood Risk Reduction; Open Space Land Conservation and Recreation; Water Quality Improvement, and Resilient Infrastructure. The Bond Act also guarantees at least 35% of the money be used in disadvantaged communities. Communities whose members have done the least to contribute to the climate crisis often are forced to pay the highest costs, as evidenced by those hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.
The Bond Act would strengthen our economy by increasing jobs: well paying, family- sustaining jobs in the green industry. Recently, the Retool Jamestown conference took place, which highlighted the economic gains that could be harvested through green energy. The conference focused on the wide variety of opportunities that are available to manufacturers and suppliers in the Western Southern Tier for access to climate technology experts, innovators and investors, who believe that the region can be a successful contributor in this emerging sector. The fastest growing occupations in our country are in the solar and wind energy fields.
The Bond Act furthers our commitment to clean water and air by strengthening programs designed to protect them. Low-income families and communities of color suffer disproportionately from air pollution, exposure to toxins, and lack of green space. With a significant portion, 35%, designated to environmental justice programs, the Bond Act would help address these inequities. It would expand New York’s environmental programs, create parks, provide for programs to protect and improve family farms, revitalize waterfronts, and restore habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife. The Bond Act furthers preventive measures by taking aim at harmful pollution and helping protect communities from the growing risks of global warming.
We strongly urge voters to vote yes on Proposition 1: The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, which will be located on the back of the ballot. The climate crisis is upon us now with increased severity of storms, flooding, heat waves, wildfires, and droughts. It is imperative for our state to vote yes to support actions to address the climate crisis and its destructive potential. Our natural world is banging loudly on our door, crying out for help. Will we answer the call or ignore its insistent warnings?
By LoVetra Rose, Janey Wagner, Bill Moran, Diane Clark and Judi Lutz-Woods are members of the Green Sanctuary Team at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua.