What is the Environmental Protection Fund and why should you Care about it?
Ask most New Yorkers about the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and they will have no idea what you're talking about. But ask them about the programs the EPF funds- programs including New York State's zoos, Jones Beach State Park, dozens of community gardens, and environmental education centers- and they'll know exactly what you're talking about. The EPF has served as the central nervous system of New York's environmental protection programs for over a decade and a half.
Since 1993, the year the fund was established, the EPF has supported hundreds of New York State environmental programs. A newly published report by the Friends of New York's Environment, a coalition of nonprofits including NRDC, highlights key EPF-enabled success stories reflecting the range of various green investments and the broad geographic spread of these programs across the state.
The EPF report has been released at a key time: a few days ago, in its Deficit Reduction Bill, the New York State Legislature voted to shrink the EPF from the 2007 legislatively-approved $300 million to $205 million. This $95 million cut will curtail the bulk of land preservation and open space protection projects the EPF funds. Further, the Legislature also increased the amount of EPF-designated funds allowed to be "swept" from the EPF. This sweeping allows money that was supposed to go to environmental programs to be taken out from the EPF and used for non-environmental purposes. Though these sweeps are supposed to be paid back, there is no formal time frame for repayment. A bad sign: money swept from last year's EPF has yet to find its way back to this year's fund.
The EPF success story report vividly chronicles the EPF's achievements in the areas of solid waste, open space, parks, recreation and historic preservation. NRDC's position, along with a coalition of over 200 environmental and civic groups in New York, is to bring the EPF to its full $300 million in the 2009-10 budget. This fits with the emerging national dialogue that argues for green investment as both a way to preserve our natural resources as well as bring a real boost to the local and state economies.