by Jeremy Moule
The state's Environmental Protection Fund will get a boost if Governor Andrew Cuomo signs legislation passed by the Assembly and Senate at the end of this year's session.
Legislators passed bills that will require the state to redirect some unclaimed bottle deposits into the EPF. Under the legislation, $10 million worth of bottle deposits will go into the EPF in 2013-14. That amount will increase by $10 million each year through 2017-18. In 2018-19 and every year after, $56 million in unclaimed bottle deposits will be put into the EPF.
The EPF is intended as a source of funding for all sorts of environmental projects, from open-space preservation and community gardens to recycling programs and landfill closures. Keep Protecting New York, a coalition of environmental groups, at one point prepared a fact sheet on the EPF's impact on MonroeCounty. It's available here.
Environmental group are thrilled with the legislation; for years they've asked the state to use bottle bill revenue to expand the EPF. The move to increase EPF funding is a stark contrast to several years' worth of sweeps - taking money from the fund and using it for state operations - and cuts.
The legislation would also help address a problem with the EPF's original funding source. The fund's revenue comes from the state real estate transfer tax, and home sales are lagging statewide. The EPF has suffered a corresponding revenue decrease.