Westchester voters have an unprecedented chance– for the first time in 25 years– to fight climate change, now that the state has passed The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. Now it goes to voters.
It’s a $4.2 billion bond question that will be on voters’ ballots at the general election November 8. If you vote yes, you will be supporting the largest environmental bond act in state history covering a wide range of critical local projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change mitigation.
For example, according to Mothers Out Front in Westchester County, the Bond Act will have “a tremendous impact” helping our local public schools meet the upfront costs of buying more electric school buses, which can cost 2-3 times as much as fossil fuel buses. An estimated $500 million of the bond funds will be dedicated to transitioning to clean, efficient electric buses protecting children’s health and the climate.
Another key funding area in the Bond Act — especially important for coastal southern Westchester towns–is financing flood-risk reduction, coastal and shoreline restoration, relocating and repairing flood-prone infrastructure and roadways, and ecological restoration projects. And millions would go toward projects related to wastewater, sewage, and septic infrastructure; lead service line replacement; buffers; storm water runoff reduction, and addressing harmful algae blooms.
In 2019, Rebuild by Design mapped out the state’s vulnerabilities to flooding events by county, based on state or federal disasters within the past 10 years. Westchester was among the highest in the state, with eight declarations between 2011 and 2019.
The Bond Act also includes the opportunity to do buyouts proactively in communities at high risk of flooding, as opposed to only offering them after properties have been devastated by a storm.
If voters approve the Bond Act in November, funds will be dispersed bit by bit through different state agencies and their preexisting funds, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Protection Fund. It will be a competitive process in which municipalities and organizations submit their relevant project proposals as it is for available funding now.
More in-depth information on New York’s Environmental Bond Act is here.
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.