Natural Environment


New York has been among the nation’s leaders in protecting the natural environment from the threats posed by climate change. While advancing outdoor recreation has been PTNY’s primary focus, we recognize that addressing climate change and issues that impact air, water, and land is essential to advancing our mission as they threaten the state’s natural resources and access to the outdoors.

For over 25 years, New York has benefitted from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which has directly funded more than $2 billion in environmental capital projects and programming across the state. The EPF provides funding to purchase open space, steward state lands, expand and improve local parks, control invasive species, protect water quality, and conserve farmland. In 2019, the state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) empowered citizens to play a key role in establishing a more sustainable future. Through the CLCPA, ambitious goals were set to help the State transition towards clean, renewable energy sources. New York’s Bag Waste Reduction Law, which took effect just as the pandemic emerged last March, reduces the distribution of single-use plastic bags to help eliminate litter in our communities, waterways, and public lands and the destructiveness of long-lived plastic waste on wildlife and natural ecosystems.

Despite these efforts, critical environmental funding and regulatory measures are increasingly threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially reversing years of progress and stalling existing measures, including the NYS Bag Waste Reduction Law and Bottle Bill. The Restore Mother Nature Bond Act would have funded environmental projects aimed at stemming causes of climate change and allowing communities across the state to build resilience against the effects of climate change. However, Governor Cuomo announced in July 2020 that the $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act would not appear on the November ballot. Despite the headway New York has made, there are looming concerns that will need to be addressed, including sea level rise, source water protection, land-use management, and air pollutants.

Our Vision

  • Permanent, sustained state funding for environmental programs, including preservation and infrastructure
  • Open spaces preserved and stewarded for future generations to enjoy
  • A resilient coastline, with infrastructure prepared for weather related disasters, flooding, and erosion
  • Standards and expectations for combating air pollution and dangerous gas emissions upheld by state, national, and global legislation and agreements

Top Priorities

Reauthorize a $3 billion Environmental Bond Act - PASSED

Pass an environmental bond act as part of the 2021 state budget, putting the proposal before voters next year and ensuring that the state loses no time safeguarding against the threats of climate change.

UPDATE: The Environmental Bond Act was passed as part of the 2021 state budget and will be on the ballot for approval by voters in November 2022.

Ensure full and sustainable funding of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) - PASSED

Support a $300 million appropriation for the EPF, addressing environmental needs across the state, including land acquisition and waterfront revitalization. Protect the EPF against ‘raids’ used for unrelated or extraneous finances by providing state agencies with sustainable operations funding.

UPDATE: The Environmental Protection Fund was passed at $300 million with no raids in the 2021 state budget.

Expand legislation that counteracts the negative effects of single-use plastic

Supplement New York’s Bag Waste Reduction Law’s list of “exempt bags”, remove contradictory language allowing “thicker” plastic bags, and continue efforts to expand the NYS Bottle Bill to include polystyrene containers and more single-use plastic.




Other Priorities

Outline procedure and implementation for New York’s Climate Act

Develop an action plan that enables New York to meet the clean energy and equity screen expectations set in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), as well as the Paris Agreement.

Partner with other environmentally-focused organizations on issues of shared priority

Join with partner organizations through coalitions such as the Keep Protecting NY Coalition, the Environmental Bond Act Coalition, and others, and support national efforts such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition and efforts by the Governor to coordinate states as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance.