Unprecedented $300M EPF Establishes New $22 Million Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Category to Support Community Resilience
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $11 million in Climate Smart Community grants is available for municipalities to become more resilient to the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and extreme weather. The announcement is part of New York’s Earth Week celebration, which Governor Cuomo proclaimed from April 17-23 to highlight the state’s commitment to protecting the environment, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.
“New York has a long history as a national leader in protecting the environment and promoting clean energy use,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this funding, we are continuing to take a proactive role in creating greener and more resilient communities while growing our economy and improving the quality of life statewide.”
Acting Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos made the announcement today at an event with local officials at the City of Schenectady City Hall.
“Through the unprecedented expansion of the Environmental Protection Fund, local governments and State agencies will be able to accelerate action to combat climate change,” said Acting Commissioner Seggos. “Climate Smart Community grants empower local governments to become more resilient and adapt to the potentially devastating effects of climate change.”
Climate Smart Community Implementation grants will support mitigation and adaptation projects and range from $100,000 to $2 million. Eligible mitigation projects include efforts to mitigate or lessen the effects of climate change by reducing community greenhouse gas emissions through waste management and transportation improvements. Eligible adaptation projects include actions that enable a community to adapt or become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, including the relocation or retrofit of climate-vulnerable facilities, restoration of riparian buffers and tidal wetlands, construction of natural resiliency measures and other projects that reduce flood risk.
Competitive grants will also provide support for local governments to become certified Climate Smart Communities by funding activities such as right-sizing of fleets and climate change adaptation planning. Climate Smart Community Certification grants will range from $25,000 to $100,000. Municipalities can apply for both grants beginning in early May through the Consolidated Funding Application (https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa).
More than 170 communities, representing 6.6 million New Yorkers in every region of the state, have committed to acting on climate through New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program. With the support of State agencies, these forward thinking communities are assessing their climate vulnerabilities, making plans to protect and improve the health, safety and economic wellbeing of their residents, reducing their carbon footprints, securing direct cost savings, and increasing economic activity. Aligning EPF spending with the Climate Smart Communities program will expand the network of engaged communities and provide new opportunities for communities to invest in their future and share what they learn.
New York State agencies are leading by example to protect the assets and enhance their ability to continue to conduct their critical missions in the face of a changing climate by conducting vulnerability assessments starting this year. Last year, to further reduce the harms from climate change, Governor Cuomo also signed the Under 2 MOU, committing the State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors and to do our part to keep global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. New York’s State Energy Plan adopts an interim greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 40 percent by 2030 and identifies the actions that will achieve that goal.
Senator Tom O’Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said,“These are important investments that will benefit local municipalities, farms, state agencies, and concerned citizens seeking to take actions to enhance the quality of our environment and, at the same time, expand economic opportunities and improve the overall well-being of local citizens and families.”
The 2016-17 State Budget includes appropriations of $300 million for the EPF, the highest level of funding in the program’s history and an increase of $123 million from FY 2015-16. The increase will provide record funding for stewardship, agriculture programs, invasive species prevention and eradication, water quality improvement, municipal recycling and an aggressive environmental justice agenda. Further, this funding level will establish new programs to help communities adapt to climate change through resiliency planning and capital projects, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions outside of the power sector.
Funding through the EPF’s new $22 million Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation category to support New York’s comprehensive climate strategies also includes:
- Municipal Clean Vehicle Rebate Program ($3 million) Later this year, funding will be available to municipalities for clean vehicle projects, including rebates for purchases of clean vehicles of up to $5000 per vehicle and for public charging or fueling infrastructure, up to $250,000 per facility. Eligible clean vehicles will include plug-in hybrids, battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
- Climate Resilient Farms Program ($2.5 million) This competitive grant program, administered by the Soil and Water Conservation Committee in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, helps New York’s agricultural community reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon in soils, and build resiliency by preventing the damage caused by severe precipitation and drought events.
- State Vulnerability Assessments ($2.5 million) State agencies will identify and assess climate change-related vulnerabilities to their assets and services. This will enable New York State government to continue to lead by example and protect New Yorkers and our environment. The Department of Environmental Conservation has developed a vulnerability assessment approach and will coordinate and support the work of individual agencies.
- Smart Growth State Assistance Payments ($2 million) Funding will continue for this Department of State program that provides support, on a competitive basis, for counties, cities, towns or villages to establish, update or implement comprehensive plans. Smart growth saves money and makes our communities healthier and more attractive places to live, work and conduct business.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions Beyond the Power System ($1 million) Governor Cuomo’s ambitious policies to transform the electricity system, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, NY Green Bank, NY Sun, Clean Energy Fund, and Clean Energy Standard, are already making significant progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. DEC will explore opportunities to reduce all other emission sources identified in the 2015 State Energy Plan, which called for a 40-percent reduction in emissions by 2030 and an 80-percent reduction by 2050.
For more information on climate change and steps New York is taking to tackle climate change, visit DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/44992.html