During this week’s 2022 midterm elections, over 68% of New York voters approved the passing of the biggest environmental protection initiative in the history of the state. The “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” will effectively allow New York to borrow $4.2 billion “for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure and climate change mitigation.”
Effective immediately, the newly-established budget will be split across many projects: $1.1. billion will be used for flood risk mitigation efforts, $650 million will affect land rehabilitation and conservation endeavors, another $650 will be put towards water infrastructure causes and an additional $300 will be spent on efforts that have yet to be determined.
But how, exactly, will the Environmental Bond Act affect New Yorkers’ day-to-day lives? First of all, the city’s charter will now include a statement of values seeking to morph the city into a more equitable one. City agencies will also now have to create new racial equity plans every two years with a novel Office of Racial Equity responsible for managing it all.
Perhaps most imminently, the local government will also now be tasked to calculate the “true cost of living” in New York based on essential needs (housing, food, transportation and childcare, for example) and without taking into account public or private assistance measures.
Considering citizens’ recent consternation at the median income set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ($94,500, despite the city’s actual household median income of $60,550), thought by many to be “wildly out of sync” with reality, we are sure that this last point will ruffle a lot of feathers.
Given the current state of affairs on the federal level, we’re glad to know that local governments are at least attempting to do something of significance in terms of climate change.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.