ALBANY, N.Y. – The state Assembly this week passed a bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge), that would increase money for the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.
“The Environmental Protection Fund Enhancement Act,” passed unanimously.
Castelli said while no aid was cut this year from the fund and its allocation was kept at $134 million, it remains a major reduction from the $500 million level it was at four years ago. He said the new legislation aims to change that.
“While we have managed to shield the EPF from direct cuts, [Bill A7137-A] is needed to help restore the EPF to a sustainable level and address the significant environmental protection and conservation needs throughout the state,” he said.
The bill would increase the aid deposited annually into the fund by allocating a portion of the unclaimed nickel deposits from the bottle bill. The measure initially had been included in the 2012 state budget but was removed prior to its passage.
The fund works toward supporting pollution prevention, invasive species management, park and farmland preservation, zoos/botanical gardens/aquariums, solid waste management, water quality initiatives, smart growth, open space preservation and other programs, such as conservation grants.
Castelli said he also is co-sponsoring legislation that would require the comptroller to transfer money into the fund whenever it has insufficient money to meet its obligations, as well as a bill that would repay the money borrowed against the fund from the 2010 budget.
Castelli’s 89th District includes Lewisboro, Pound Ridge, Bedford, North Castle, Harrison and parts of White Plains.