The governors of New Jersey and New York demonstrated recently that they aren't simply talking about the environment but are willing to make significant financial commitments to address climate change and clean water issues.
With the creation of the Natural Climate Solution Grant Program, New Jersey becomes one of the first states to invest proceeds from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auctions into natural resource restoration and enhancement projects.
In keeping with the global theme for this year’s Earth Week (Invest in Our Planet), NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced the launch of the Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program, a blue and green carbon grant program that is providing $15 million for projects that create, restore and enhance salt marshes, sea grass beds, forests and urban parks to sequester atmospheric carbon in the fight against climate change.
"We have long been advocates for protecting and restoring tidal wetlands, as well as restoring the capacity of habitats to sequester carbon in the fight against climate change," said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. "The dedication of the RGGI funds to tidal marsh stewardship is the result of advocacy by the Society when the Global Warming Solutions Act was initially being considered; we pushed for direct support to make tidal marshes a key component in responding to climate change. We commend Governor Phil Murphy and NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette for bringing this important program forward into implementation, helping to fight climate change."
To learn more about the program visit the Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program webpage.
NJ’s initial RGGI Strategic Funding Plan will run from 2020 through 2022 and includes four initiatives for investment. The initiatives are:
These initiatives are aligned with Gov. Phil Murphy’s strategic vision for achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and the Global Warming Response Act mandate of reducing state greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 2006 levels. Information about specific funding opportunities for these initiatives will be released periodically through this website.
Almost simultaneously, New York announced new and strengthened protections for wetlands.
Gov. Kathy Hochul released her first Executive Budget, and the biggest wins were for the inclusion of reforms to the Freshwater Wetlands Regulatory Program and a proposal to raise the Environmental Protect Fund to $400 million — which is a $100 million increase from the current appropriation.
Among other environmental points of focus in the NY budget are:
Clean Water Infrastructure - An additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding will bring the State's total clean water investment to $4.5 billion. This critical investment will ensure New Yorkers have access to clean drinking water and will allow municipalities to invest in efficient and effective wastewater treatment strategies.
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)Capital Funding - A total of $90 million, an increase of $15 million from FY22, will permit the NY DEC to address capital needs related to improving access to state lands, rehabilitating campgrounds, and upgrading its recreational facilities as part of the Adventure NY program. This funding will also provide for health and safety repairs to state infrastructure, including dams, wetland restoration, state lands, and fish hatcheries.
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP[AI1] )Funding - A total of $200 million, an increase of $90 million from FY22, is allocated for the NY OPRHP to invest in enhancing and improving NY State parks. This substantial level of funding will aid the ongoing transformation of New York's flagship parks and support critical infrastructure projects throughout the park system.
Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act - The Executive Budget includes $4 billion for the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. This historic initiative will provide the support New York needs to restore critical environmental habitats; reduce flood risks; conserve additional lands and open spaces; protect and improve our water resources; and invest in climate change mitigation projects that will reduce pollution and lower carbon emissions.
“These are important investments in NY’s environment, and we commend the Governor, Commissioner Basil Seggos and the lawmakers who crafted this budget for their leadership” said Dillingham.