New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez today touted the Department of State’s (DOS) many environmental and climate accomplishments in celebration of Earth Day, and looks forward to a another banner year for the state’s environment. The state-enacted budget increases funding for DOS programs to provide new opportunities to expand investments in green infrastructure statewide. DOS administers several programs that promote sustainable community development, natural resource protection, and climate-friendly infrastructure, including the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, NY Forward, Brownfield Opportunity Area, Smart Growth Planning, and Local Waterfront Revitalization Initiative.
“Smart, sustainable, and climate-friendly growth is at the heart of our mission at the State Department,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “DOS programs are guided by the “3 Es” of sustainability: Environment, Equity and Economy. With the new budget supporting our programs at unprecedented levels, DOS is poised to accelerate and expand its environmental and community development work.
The state’s 23-year budget includes record funding and support for several DOS community planning and development programs that protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gases and increase the implantation of clean energy , made possible in part by an increase in the Environmental Protection Fund from $300 million to $400 million. .
A breakdown of DOS’ sustainability-focused programs:
Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI)
The DRI was launched in 2016 to accelerate and expand downtown and neighborhood revitalization across all ten regions of the state to serve as hubs of activity and catalysts for increased local investment. Led by the Department of State, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative “plan then act” strategy that combines strategic planning with immediate implementation.
Compact, mixed-use, walkable, cycling, and transit-oriented downtowns reduce automobile use and dependence, which in turn reduces car-related greenhouse gases. Downtown redevelopment is also helping to reverse sprawl, which is not environmentally sustainable. Town centers also provide an ideal location for clean energy. In 2021, DOS entered into an agreement with NYPA to locate electric vehicle charging stations in several DRIs; so far, _XXX_ DRI communities have signed up for this initiative. The DRI also partners with NYSERDA to promote carbon-neutral and energy-efficient downtown projects.
The DRI awarded a total of $600 million to 59 communities in its first five rounds. The $100 million annual appropriation was doubled to $200 million in 2021, providing funding for 19 additional communities. The FY23 state budget includes an additional $100 million for DRI, with an additional $100 million for an innovative variation of DRI called NY Forward.
An offshoot of DRI, NY Forward is a new $100 million in budget program to support a more equitable downtown recovery in rural and smaller New York communities, with a focus on hamlets and towns. DOS will lead the community through an abbreviated planning process and provide the technical assistance needed to develop a list of easily achievable projects. Like the DRI, NY Forward will help reverse sprawl and therefore reduce greenhouse gases and protect open spaces and other natural resources.
Global Smart Growth Planning Grant Program
The Smart Growth Program provides planning and implementation funding for communities, counties and regions that embrace smart growth principles, including walkable downtowns and clean energy locations.
In 2021, DOS awarded more than $1.5 million to 24 communities to develop comprehensive municipal plans that adopt and integrate smart growth principles to guide future zoning and development. Funding for the Smart Growth Program has been increased to $3 million in the new budget (which is split evenly with DEC’s Adirondack and Catskill Parks Smart Growth Program).
Ocean and Great Lakes/Coastal Coherence
The State Department played a role in New York’s first offshore wind project, South Fork Wind, which will provide electricity to Long Island. DOS’s Coastal Coherence and Ocean and Great Lakes program has worked with stakeholders and government partners to minimize potential negative environmental impacts and avoid disruptions to our coastal economy as we transition to a cleaner, greener future. Governor Hochul also advanced a nationwide investment of $500 million in offshore wind ports, manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure to support future offshore wind projects, which will help the state significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as indicated by climate leadership and community protection. Law.
Brownfields Opportunity Zones (BOA) Program
The BOA program transforms brownfields, i.e. heavily contaminated areas, from liabilities into community assets that generate and support new businesses, jobs, housing and public amenities, including energy sites renewable. The BOA funds a plan which, when completed, is submitted to the Secretary of State for approval or “designation”, which gives projects consistent with the BOA plan priority state funding among certain programs; an additional 5% tax credit for brownfield developers; and grants for pre-development project costs.
In addition to helping revive and redevelop degraded brownfields, the BOA program has also helped generate solar farms on brownfields in Olean and Lackawanna, helping to meet key national gas reduction targets. greenhouse effect in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. ?
In 2021, the Secretary of State designated 4 new BOAs, for a total of 61 designated BOAs statewide, and awarded $3.6 million in grants to 18 municipalities and community organizations. The FY23 budget brings funding to $4 million.
Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP)
The LWRP program offers grants to communities to develop a community plan with a vision for their waterfront area, guided by several environmental policies that ensure projects are in harmony with natural resources and waterfront ecosystems. Once an LWRP is approved by the Secretary of State and adopted by a local community, the community can apply for funds to implement projects that support the plan.
There are currently 113 municipalities with approved LWRPs in New York State, including 4 that were approved by the Secretary of State in 2021. The program awarded an unprecedented $30.9 million for 46 projects in 2021. The state budget includes $16.3 million for 2022/2023.
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