OPINION / COMMENTARY
The New Year inevitably provokes us to think about change. This year, New Yorkers look to Albany with a cautious optimism. The rebirth of the New York State Legislature brings many looming issues regarding education, municipal budget deficits and our health care system to the table. But for Western New York, our ecological bounty is another salient issue that needs to be explored; as many questions surface about Andrew Cuomo's ascension to governor, the environmental implications in this new political atmosphere will be numerous and multi-dimensional. How do we, in fact, create "a cleaner, greener New York?"
Governor Cuomo's comprehensive agenda for the environment answers that question with both short- and long-term solutions and concerted efforts in the following areas.
The Cleaner Greener Communities Competitive Grant Program will incentivize the greening up of communities throughout New York State. Much like President Obama's Race To The Top, participation and buy-in from all community stakeholders is imperative, and those stakeholders will be challenged to no longer operate at the status quo and within the realm of best intentions, but rather, with the best environmental practices. The communities that will be awarded grants based on this program will be those that can provide an effective and innovative plan for the coordination of housing, transportation, emissions and energy efficiency, among other things, into one comprehensive and innovative regional plan.
Cuomo will look to increase energy efficiencies and renewable energy. By increasing financing for energy efficiency projects such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and on-bill recovery, creating renewable energy tax credits to stimulate investment in solar energy and enacting a new fuel neutral power plant generation law to help increase the use of wind energy, the governor is continuing to improve the health and quality of life in New York while simultaneously working to improve an economy in crisis.