Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2017-2018 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic "Environmental Conservation" - Testimonies

February 14, 2017

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Hearing Event Notice:
https://www.nysenate.gov/calendar/public-hearings/february-13-2017/joint-legislative-public-hearing-2017-2018-executive

Archived Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orvmii_XHmI

_______________________

                                                                   1

 1  BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE FINANCE
    AND ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEES
 2  ----------------------------------------------------

 3          JOINT LEGISLATIVE HEARING

 4             In the Matter of the
           2017-2018 EXECUTIVE BUDGET ON
 5           ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
    
 6  ----------------------------------------------------

 7                           Hearing Room B
                             Legislative Office Building
 8                           Albany, New York
    
 9                           February 13, 2017
                             9:42 a.m.
10  

11  PRESIDING:

12           Senator Catharine M. Young
             Chair, Senate Finance Committee
13  
             Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
14           Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
    
15  PRESENT:

16           Senator Liz Krueger 
             Senate Finance Committee (RM)
17  
             Assemblyman Robert Oaks
18           Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
    
19           Senator Thomas F. O'Mara 
             Chair, Senate Committee on 
20            Environmental Conservation 
    
21           Assemblyman Steve Englebright
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
22            Environmental Conservation
    
23           Senator Patricia A. Ritchie
             Chair, Senate Committee on Agriculture
24  
    

                                                                  2

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-13-17
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Assemblyman William Magee
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
 5            Agriculture
    
 6           Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
 7            Tourism, Parks, Arts and 
              Sports Development
 8  
             Assemblywoman Amy Paulin
 9           Chair, Assembly Committee on Energy
    
10           Senator Diane J. Savino
             Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee
11  
             Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry
12  
             Senator Elizabeth O'C. Little
13  
             Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy
14  
             Assemblyman Robert Carroll
15  
             Senator Pamela Helming
16  
             Senator Brad Hoylman
17  
             Assemblyman Phil Steck
18  
             Assemblyman Dan Stec
19  
             Assemblyman Peter D. Lopez
20  
             Senator Elaine Phillips
21  
             Assemblyman Steven Otis
22  
             Assemblywoman Addie Jenne 
23  
             Assemblywoman Didi Barrett
24  
    

                                                                  3

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-13-17
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Senator Todd Kaminsky
    
 5           Assemblyman Brian P. Kavanagh
    
 6           Senator Robert G. Ortt
    
 7           Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
    
 8           Assemblyman Steven F. McLaughlin
    
 9           Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. 
    
10           Senator Timothy M. Kennedy
    
11           Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee
    
12           Assemblyman Sean Ryan
    
13           Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther
    
14           Senator Terrence P. Murphy
    
15  
    
16  
    
17                   LIST OF SPEAKERS
    
18                                   STATEMENT QUESTIONS
    
19  Basil Seggos 
    Acting Commissioner
20  NYS Department of 
     Environmental Conservation             9      18
21  
    Rose Harvey
22  Commissioner
    NYS Office of Parks, Recreation
23   and Historic Preservation            208     217
    
24


                                                                  4

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-13-17
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                    STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Richard A. Ball
    Commissioner
 6  NYS Department of Agriculture
     and Markets                          253      259
 7  
    Audrey Zibelman
 8  Chair 
    NYS Public Service Commission         324      330
 9  
    John B. Rhodes
10  President & CEO
    NYSERDA                               389      396
11  
    Jeff Williams
12  Director of Public Policy
    New York Farm Bureau                  434      440
13  
    Darren Suarez
14  Director of Government 
     Affairs
15  The Business Council 
     of NYS                               446      456
16  
    David Haight
17  NYS Director
    American Farmland Trust               460      466
18  
    Jessica Ottney Mahar
19  Director of Policy
    The Nature Conservancy
20   in New York                          469
    
21  Sasha Eisenstein
    Government Relations Manager
22  Audubon New York                      476
    
23  
                              
24


                                                                  5

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-13-17
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                   STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Adrienne Esposito
    Executive Director
 6  Citizens Campaign for
     the Environment                      480     489
 7  
    Patrick McClellan
 8  State Policy Director
    New York League of Conservation 
 9   Voters                               493
    
10  James Meerdink 
    Project Director 
11  Parks & Trails New York               498     506
    
12  Joseph Brilling
    Executive Director
13  Washington County Sewer District
        -for-
14  New York Water Environment
     Association                          508     518
15  
    Kevin Chlad
16  Director, Government Relations 
    The Adirondack Council                519
17  
    Peter Bauer
18  Executive Director
    Protect the Adirondacks               525
19  
    Dan Shapley
20  Water Quality Program Dir.
    Riverkeeper                           531
21  
    Andy Bicking
22  Director of Public Policy
    Scenic Hudson                         539
23  
    
24


                                                                  6

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-13-17
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                   STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Erik Kulleseid
    Executive Director
 6  Alliance for NYS Parks              
    Senior Vice President
 7  Open Space Institute                549
    
 8  Drew Cavanagh
    Secretary and Director
 9  Forest Rangers Superior
     Officers Association
10  John Burke
    Director
11  NYS EnCon Police 
     Superior Officers Assn.
12  Manuel Vilar
    VP/CAO and Director
13  Police Park Sergeants
     Association
14      -for-
    Police Benevolent Assn.
15   of New York State                  555      570
    
16  Mark Dunlea
    Chairperson 
17  Green Education and
     Legal Fund                         574
18  
    Blair Horner
19  Executive Director
    New York Public Interest
20   Research Group (NYPIRG)            583
    
21  David Hartman
    President
22  NYS Whitetail Management
     Coalition                          592      597
23  

24


                                                                  7

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-13-17
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                    STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Evelyn Powers
    Senior Manager
 6  Interstate Environmental
     Commission                          601
 7  
    Robert Blais
 8  Mayor
    Village of Lake George
 9  David Decker
    Director
10  Lake George Watershed Coalition      615
    
11  

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24


                                                                  8

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good morning.  I'm 

 2          Senator Catharine Young, chair of the State 

 3          Standing Committee on Finance.  Welcome to 

 4          the New York State Legislature Joint Budget 

 5          Hearing on Environmental Conservation.  

 6                 I'm joined by several of my 

 7          colleagues.  We have Vice Chair Senator Diane 

 8          Savino, Senator Tim Kennedy, and Senator Todd 

 9          Kaminsky.  

10                 And I'd also like to welcome my 

11          colleague, chairman of the Ways and Means 

12          Committee, Assemblyman Denny Farrell.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you, Senator.  

14                 We have been joined by Assemblyman 

15          Steve Englebright, Assemblyman Robert 

16          Carroll, Assemblyman Philip Steck, and 

17          Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.  We've also been 

18          joined by Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and 

19          also Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and 

20          Assemblyman Jeff Aubry, and Assemblyman Oaks.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you very 

22          much, Chairman.  We've also been joined by 

23          Assemblyman Dan Stec and Assemblyman Pete 

24          Lopez.


                                                                  9

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 2          Assemblyman.  

 3                 Pursuant to the State Constitution and 

 4          Legislative Law, the fiscal committees of the 

 5          State Legislature are authorized to hold 

 6          hearings on the Executive Budget.  Today's 

 7          hearing will be limited to a discussion of 

 8          the Governor's proposed budget for the 

 9          Department of Environmental Conservation, the 

10          Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic 

11          Preservation, the Department of Agriculture 

12          and Markets, and the New York State Energy 

13          Research and Development Authority.

14                 Following each presentation, there 

15          will be some time allowed for questions of 

16          the chairs of the fiscal committees and other 

17          legislators.

18                 First of all, I sincerely would like 

19          to welcome Basil Seggos, commissioner of the 

20          Department of Environmental Conservation.  We 

21          are so happy to have you here.  And I'm glad 

22          that you arranged for a break in the weather 

23          so that we could all attend today.  So 

24          welcome, Commissioner.


                                                                  10

 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 

 2          Chairwoman.  It was not easy.  

 3                 But good morning, Chairwoman Young, 

 4          Chairman Farrell, and members of the 

 5          legislative fiscal and environmental 

 6          conservation committees.

 7                 I'm Basil Seggos, commissioner of the 

 8          DEC.  And here with me today are Julie Tighe, 

 9          who is our assistant commissioner for 

10          intergovernmental affairs, as well as Jeff 

11          Stefanko, who's deputy commissioner for 

12          administration.  So on behalf of DEC's nearly 

13          3,000 employees, thank you for the 

14          opportunity to discuss the Governor's 

15          2017-2018 budget.  

16                 Governor Cuomo has established one of 

17          the most aggressive environmental agendas in 

18          the nation.  The agenda recognizes that a 

19          clean environment goes hand in hand with a 

20          strong economy.  Over the last six years, we 

21          have worked tirelessly with you to cement New 

22          York's leadership on environmental and clean 

23          energy issues.  This foundation will serve 

24          the state well as we confront serious 


                                                                  11

 1          questions about environmental protection in 

 2          Washington.  New York must and will continue 

 3          to lead.  

 4                 The Governor's 2017-2018 budget is his 

 5          most ambitious environmental budget yet.  It 

 6          reflects the state's strong commitment to our 

 7          core conservation and public health 

 8          responsibilities, and demonstrates our intent 

 9          to tackle two of the most pressing threats of 

10          our time -- climate change and drinking water 

11          protection.  

12                 The time for debate about climate 

13          change is over.  Climate change is real, and 

14          human activity is the principal cause.  Last 

15          year, I spoke to you about how 2015 was the 

16          hottest year ever.  2016 just surpassed it.  

17          In fact, the past 16 years are among the 17 

18          warmest on record.  The time for action on 

19          climate is now, especially in the absence of 

20          federal leadership.  

21                 New York has already set the most 

22          aggressive climate goals in the country -- a 

23          40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas 

24          emissions by 2030, and an 80 percent 


                                                                  12

 1          reduction by 2050.  And we intend to have 

 2          50 percent of our energy from renewables by 

 3          2030.  Later today, NYSERDA will discuss how 

 4          we'll reach these goals through billions of 

 5          dollars of investment in clean energy, and 

 6          through programs like NY Sun, REV, and the 

 7          Clean Energy Standard.  

 8                 This year, we're doubling down on 

 9          these goals.  First, through RGGI, the 

10          Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, we 

11          propose to lower the cap on carbon emissions 

12          from the power sector by 30 percent between 

13          2020 and 2030.  Second, DEC and other 

14          agencies will implement a comprehensive plan 

15          to control methane emissions.  And finally, 

16          DEC and NYSERDA are undertaking a landmark 

17          study to determine how the state can secure 

18          100 percent of our energy from renewable 

19          sources.  

20                 This year, we'll begin the critical 

21          work of the newly created Ocean Acidification 

22          Task Force.  We'll also continue grants to 

23          municipalities to reduce carbon emissions and 

24          develop resiliency in the face of a changing 


                                                                  13

 1          climate.  And we'll propose changes to the 

 2          forest tax credit program to protect more 

 3          private forestland, sequestering more carbon 

 4          and protecting our precious water resources.  

 5                 Clean water is vital for America's 

 6          health and prosperity, yet for too long we 

 7          have taken it for granted.  New York's 

 8          historic legacy of contamination, coupled 

 9          with some of the nation's oldest 

10          infrastructure, demands that we take bold 

11          action now.  That's why the Governor has 

12          proposed the $2 billion Clean Water 

13          Infrastructure Act.  This monumental 

14          investment over the next five years is in 

15          addition to the $175 million remaining in 

16          WIIA, the Water Infrastructure Improvement 

17          Act, which provides grants to municipalities 

18          and leverages low-cost financing through 

19          EFC's billion-dollar loan program.  

20                 With the additional $2 billion, we'll 

21          prioritize grants for the following: 

22          protecting water at its source, through local 

23          land acquisition projects and green 

24          infrastructure; mitigating the impacts of 


                                                                  14

 1          road salt and dairy waste; and incentivizing 

 2          consolidation of services between 

 3          municipalities.  These watershed-based 

 4          initiatives will also create and sustain 

 5          jobs.  

 6                 Emerging contaminants are a serious 

 7          threat to water quality.  In 2016, DEC 

 8          tackled major water pollution challenges in 

 9          Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, Newburgh, Owasco, 

10          and on Long Island.  Our unprecedented 

11          responses to PFC contamination across the 

12          state have secured clean water supplies, 

13          protected private wells, and held polluters 

14          accountable. Through the Governor's Water 

15          Quality Rapid Response Team, DEC and DOH are 

16          proactively identifying drinking water 

17          supplies potentially impacted by PFCs and 

18          other emerging contaminants like 1,4-dioxane.  

19                 And this past weekend, the Governor 

20          called on the EPA to set a national 

21          drinking-water standard for 1,4 dioxane.  If 

22          the federal government does not, we will.  

23                 And to ensure that DEC has the 

24          resources it needs to effectively respond to 


                                                                  15

 1          water contamination, the Governor is 

 2          proposing additional funding for the state 

 3          Superfund program.

 4                 So these broad goals on climate change 

 5          and water protection will be bolstered by 

 6          another historic commitment of $300 million 

 7          to the Environmental Protection Fund, or EPF.  

 8          This includes funding for all traditional 

 9          programs, such as land acquisition and 

10          invasive species control, and new programs, 

11          such as funding for the disposal of 

12          PFC-containing firefighting foam, and 

13          hardship grants for DOH's new water-testing 

14          programs.  

15                 Environmental justice continues to be 

16          one of my top priorities.  As I work to 

17          update DEC's own environmental justice 

18          policy, we plan to invest $2 million for 

19          targeted air monitoring programs and 

20          mitigation solutions in low-income 

21          communities, as we are doing right now in 

22          Albany's South End.  We'll also dedicate 

23          $1 million to support green job training in 

24          EJ areas and $1 million to develop urban 


                                                                  16

 1          environmental education centers.  

 2                 Outdoor recreation and natural 

 3          resource protection are the pillars of DEC's 

 4          mission.  This year, the Governor is 

 5          proposing to increase our ability to steward 

 6          our lands by increasing our NY Works funding 

 7          to $70 million.  Combined with EPF 

 8          stewardship funding, this will allow us to 

 9          invest $50 million in the first year of a new 

10          program called Adventure NY, which is 

11          designed to upgrade DEC's recreational assets 

12          across the state.  It will also encourage 

13          recreation in new areas, in part to curtail 

14          overuse in places like the Adirondack High 

15          Peaks.  

16                 In the first three years of 

17          Adventure NY, DEC will design and construct 

18          projects across the state, including boat 

19          launches, duck blinds, and wildlife viewing 

20          areas; we'll improve trails, signage and 

21          campgrounds in the Adirondacks and Catskills; 

22          we'll establish a Gateway to the Adirondacks 

23          on the site of the former Frontier Town 

24          amusement park; we'll coordinate marketing 


                                                                  17

 1          and tourism initiatives through I Love NY; 

 2          and we'll expand recruiting and retention 

 3          efforts for hunters and anglers, and continue 

 4          our work with the National Archery in Schools 

 5          program.  

 6                 To support all these initiatives, 

 7          DEC's budget for the coming year recommends 

 8          State Operations appropriations of 

 9          $450.1 million and a capital budget totaling 

10          $2.9 billion.  The budget maintains DEC's 

11          staffing level at 2,946 employees.  And for 

12          the first time in many years, we're holding 

13          back-to-back academies for our Environmental 

14          Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers, 

15          which just kicked off this past weekend with 

16          45 recruits.  Day in and day out, our rangers 

17          and ECOs perform heroic work on behalf of the 

18          state, and I'm personally committed to 

19          ensuring they have all the resources they 

20          need to carry out their duties.  

21                 I'm confident this Executive Budget 

22          will enable DEC to continue to fulfill its 

23          mission to protect public health and the 

24          environment.  I thank you for the opportunity 


                                                                  18

 1          to testify, and I look forward to your 

 2          questions.

 3                 (Interruption by protestors.)

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 5          Commissioner, for that testimony.  We truly 

 6          appreciate it.  

 7                 We've been joined by Senator Pam 

 8          Helming and also Senator Tom O'Mara, who 

 9          chairs the Senate Standing Committee on 

10          Environmental Conservation.  And he has some 

11          questions.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Before that, we've 

13          also been joined by Assemblywoman Aileen 

14          Gunther, Assemblyman Dan O'Donnell, 

15          Assemblyman Fred Thiele, and Assemblyman 

16          Steve Otis.

17                 Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator O'Mara.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, Senator 

20          Young.  

21                 Good morning, Mr. Seggos and your 

22          team.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  It's good to see you 


                                                                  19

 1          here this morning.  Thank you for your 

 2          testimony.  

 3                 While we're on the subject of drowning 

 4          New York, we have voluntarily entered into 

 5          Plan 2014 for the lake levels of Lake 

 6          Ontario, where we are in effect raising the 

 7          level of Lake Ontario, which is undoubtedly 

 8          going to lead to shoreline impacts, loss of 

 9          shoreline, property damage.  

10                 What in this budget is being utilized 

11          to address those issues going forward and the 

12          impacts of Plan 2014 on the lakeshore 

13          residents of Lake Ontario?  

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right, Senator, 

15          so you're referencing a decision by the U.S. 

16          federal government as well as the Canadian 

17          government made in late December-January.

18                 We have been funding, out of the 

19          Oceans and Great Lakes line of the EPF, for a 

20          number of years a series of lake resiliency 

21          projects in coordination with the Department 

22          of State.  We propose that that continues in 

23          this budget.  We have several million dollars 

24          set aside for Great Lakes work.  


                                                                  20

 1                 Our plan, irrespective of Plan 2014, 

 2          has been to conduct reach by reach analyses 

 3          of where there's vulnerabilities to flooding 

 4          in several communities and where there's a 

 5          need for resiliency projects.  So we intend 

 6          to fund projects -- after we completed a 

 7          detailed survey of vulnerabilities, we intend 

 8          to fund those projects in part using the EPF 

 9          grants to municipalities, where we can, work 

10          through the Clean Water Infrastructure Act to 

11          upgrade sewage and water infrastructure.  As 

12          you know that's been an issue for many, many 

13          years on Lake Ontario due to the prevalence 

14          of storms in the winter and some of the 

15          impacts that the shoreline owners suffer.

16                 So our budget does provide some 

17          funding to address the concerns you've 

18          raised.  And I would certainly ask and 

19          advocate for your help in lobbying the 

20          federal government to provide some resources 

21          behind the decision that they made.  At this 

22          point they made the decision to raise water 

23          levels through Plan 2014 and didn't bring any 

24          funds along with it.


                                                                  21

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Did you in your 

 2          capacity as commissioner, or Governor Cuomo, 

 3          weigh in, either pro or con, on Plan 2014?  

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We didn't weigh 

 5          in pro or con.  What we did was provide input 

 6          to the U.S. government and urge them to 

 7          provide funding for whatever decision they 

 8          made.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And they have not 

10          provided funding to this point, the feds?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Not yet.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, you mentioned 

13          there may be some relief for municipalities 

14          in this expected property damage, shoreline 

15          erosion, and the like.  What about private 

16          property owners that have owned property 

17          along the lake, the south and eastern shore 

18          of the lake, for generations?  Are they just 

19          left to fend for themselves?  Or what kind of 

20          relief can we expect to see coming for 

21          private property owners?  

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, right now 

23          the EPF doesn't allow us to provide direct 

24          grants to property owners, so that's why we 


                                                                  22

 1          were pushing on the federal government to 

 2          come up with a program to provide mitigation 

 3          for homeowners.  I haven't given up on that 

 4          by any stretch.  We have to take a run at the 

 5          new administration on this.  And that's 

 6          something we've heard loud and clear from 

 7          property owners on the south shore.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So it would take a 

 9          change to the criteria of the EPF funding to 

10          allow that to be spent through the EPF.  What 

11          about outside of the EPF?

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I'm not aware of 

13          other programs outside the EPF that could 

14          help provide direct grants to private 

15          property owners, but I'd be happy to look 

16          into that.  And it would be one thing, if we 

17          strike out with the federal government, that 

18          we'll have to do.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I'd be happy to work 

20          with you on that, Commissioner, as well.

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, with the bond 

23          act, the $2 billion as is proposed by 

24          Governor Cuomo -- and some of us in the 


                                                                  23

 1          Senate have proposed a $5 billion bond act 

 2          for clean water infrastructure.  Would any of 

 3          that $2 billion be able to be utilized for 

 4          Plan 2014 mitigation?  

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's a good 

 6          question.  I think at this point one of the 

 7          things we are proposing to fund is source 

 8          water protection and, setting aside green 

 9          infrastructure projects -- green 

10          infrastructure being an alternative to gray 

11          infrastructure -- hardened infrastructure.  

12          Those programs, in theory, could be used for 

13          some watershed resiliency projects.  And that 

14          might have an effect on the impacts that 

15          homeowners are seeing.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  In my opinion, the $2 

17          billion bond act in the budget seems to lack 

18          some specificity, categories of where that 

19          funding will be spent, and lack of 

20          involvement of the Legislature in that 

21          process.  

22                 Can you describe maybe in a little 

23          better detail, or will you be forthcoming 

24          with a spreadsheet or line items of that 


                                                                  24

 1          $2 billion and how that's proposed to be 

 2          spent, and what if any role you see the 

 3          Legislature has in the allocation of these 

 4          funds?  

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Well just 

 6          to be clear, it's not -- the Governor hasn't 

 7          proposed a bond act.  So we're proposing our 

 8          bonding authority be available immediately 

 9          after the closure of the budget, so not 

10          having to go to the voters for it.

11                 We will of course be happy to discuss 

12          all of the proposals that we included in the 

13          book.  I can go through some of them today.  

14          We've had a very successful few years with 

15          the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, or 

16          WIIA, where we've dedicated millions of 

17          dollars towards municipalities for water 

18          infrastructure upgrades.  We would certainly 

19          seek to use that mechanism to channel more 

20          resources out to those communities for the 

21          same kinds of projects.

22                 In addition to that, we want to see 

23          funds going into salt controls, to help 

24          farmers with manure runoff, to repair lead 


                                                                  25

 1          service lines -- that's emerged as a major 

 2          issue in the wake of the Flint crisis.  Now, 

 3          in New York State, we're seeing places where 

 4          there are lead service lines.

 5                 Regional water infrastructure 

 6          projects, where you have towns that are 

 7          nearby one another who might be able to share 

 8          resources, and we can provide funding for 

 9          that.  

10                 And certainly what we've seen is that 

11          there are limits to the amount of projects 

12          that we can spend Superfund dollars on.  And 

13          we would propose to direct some funds out of 

14          the Clean Water Infrastructure Act to enable 

15          us to go after contamination.

16                 So that's just a general preview of 

17          some of the projects and programs that we 

18          would seek to fund through this.  And we'd be 

19          happy to work with you on those lines to make 

20          sure there's more specificity.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Do you have any more 

22          specific breakdown for those categories of 

23          what percentage of the available funds would 

24          be spent, say, towards the clean water 


                                                                  26

 1          infrastructure?  Which I would agree with 

 2          you, over the past couple of years in the 

 3          budget has been hugely successful and allowed 

 4          many municipalities to move forward with 

 5          projects through that grant funding that 

 6          otherwise would not have been undertaken.  So 

 7          I think we've seen an increase in those 

 8          projects, which is good for the residents and 

 9          also good for the environment.

10                 So, you know, what -- and you 

11          mentioned -- so without asking a second 

12          question, I guess, then the breakdown of the 

13          dollars for clean water infrastructure, for 

14          lead line, main line removing.  Do you have 

15          some kind of breakdown as to where you would 

16          see these monies focused?

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We don't at this 

18          time.  But that will be something we'll be 

19          working through with you in the context of 

20          the negotiations over the next few months.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I've had some 

22          conversations with you and met with some of 

23          our Environmental Conservation Officers and 

24          Forest Rangers, and I commend you on the new 


                                                                  27

 1          class to help build those numbers of 

 2          employees in the department.  However, 

 3          there's a concern that we've discussed -- and 

 4          I know the department has been acting on it 

 5          in recent years -- but a lack of turnover of 

 6          vehicles and the safety of those vehicles for 

 7          our officers on the road.  I believe over the 

 8          recent years we've had -- I think three 

 9          different vehicles have actually had a wheel 

10          fall off of the vehicle while they've been in 

11          use.  

12                 I've seen some of these vehicles, and 

13          the poor condition doesn't bode well for I 

14          think how the office is perceived in the 

15          public when officers are driving around in 

16          rusted-out vehicles.  Can you explain where 

17          you're headed on vehicle replacement and 

18          where we can see, you know, turnover of these 

19          vehicles going in this year, the next year?  

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would agree 

21          with you, I believe the vehicle situation is 

22          a concern.  There was a period of time in the 

23          late 2000s -- 2008, 2009 -- where the state 

24          stopped buying vehicles, writ large, and our 


                                                                  28

 1          agency was part of that.

 2                 There was a blip in that time that 

 3          we're starting to work through and are, I 

 4          think, in some ways in much better shape now 

 5          than we were even three or four years ago. 

 6                 So for our ECOs and Rangers, last year 

 7          we bought 25 vehicles -- or two years ago, 

 8          25; this year, 60.  And we're proposing 

 9          similar levels for the coming year.  So I 

10          think what we're doing is working through 

11          that backlog, working through that blip that 

12          we saw from the 2000s, and are getting back 

13          to really where we should be, which is a 

14          regular turnover, a more predictable 

15          turnover.  

16                 I've seen some of the vehicles you've 

17          referenced, and I find that unacceptable as 

18          well.  And we've worked through a number of 

19          the problematic areas.  The ECOs and Rangers 

20          are getting new vehicles.  We got new spill 

21          trucks this year, which is helping us 

22          statewide.  Now we're getting back into a 

23          regular rhythm with our program staff who are 

24          using vehicles.  So I think that the 


                                                                  29

 1          situation is becoming better and better each 

 2          year because of the NY Works investments 

 3          we've had.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Does the department 

 5          have any standards or goals as far as years 

 6          on the vehicle, number of miles on the 

 7          vehicle, as to when it's expected to be taken 

 8          out of service?  And I also understand these 

 9          vehicles, they're in the first instance being 

10          used by the officers out in the field in 

11          responding to emergencies.  But then there's 

12          a secondhand use for lower, less emergent 

13          duties of the department.  So they're 

14          utilized beyond even that expected life for 

15          the officers.  

16                 But what are your goals or 

17          expectations for vehicles as far as number of 

18          years and mileage on a vehicle before it's 

19          taken out of service?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't have 

21          specific numbers for you on sort of where the 

22          cutoff might be.  I think it will come down 

23          to the condition of the vehicle and whether 

24          or not it's serviceable and whether or not 


                                                                  30

 1          it's going to be more expensive for us to 

 2          maintain the vehicle than to just buy a new 

 3          one or get into a lease.  We work very 

 4          closely with OGS on this.  I mean, this is 

 5          obviously a statewide issue.  Statewide 

 6          questions, typically OGS is in the lead on 

 7          that.  And we are prioritizing where we make 

 8          our investments in vehicles based on the 

 9          needs out there and based on the condition of 

10          the vehicles that we have in service.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

12                 And it's my understanding that the 

13          maintenance on these vehicles is primarily 

14          done in-house.  And it's done, I think -- at 

15          least in the information I was given in my 

16          meeting with a few of the officers, is that 

17          it's a pretty effective rate as far as the 

18          mechanic's rate on that servicing of the 

19          vehicles.  

20                 However, some of these vehicles have 

21          received as much maintenance over the years, 

22          just about, as the whole full value of the 

23          vehicle.  And I don't know if at a certain 

24          point whether it -- we're spending good money 


                                                                  31

 1          after bad to keep a vehicle on the road.  And 

 2          I understand the department doesn't undertake 

 3          any body repairs, which, you know, they're 

 4          showing rust on some of these vehicles with 

 5          actual holes in the side panels.  So, you 

 6          know, that just doesn't shine a good light, I 

 7          think, on the officers in the field and the 

 8          respect that they should have from the public 

 9          if they're driving around in a rusted-out 

10          vehicle.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I would 

12          agree with you.  And to that I would say we 

13          are working through the backlog that was 

14          effectively given to us because of the lack 

15          of investment back in the late 2000s.  And 

16          we'll get to the point where we no longer 

17          have those situations shortly.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  I'm out 

19          of time for now.  I'll probably be back.  But 

20          thank you for your answers, and we can move 

21          on from here. 

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 

23          Senator.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 


                                                                  32

 1          Mr. Chairman.

 2                 Chairman Farrell.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 4          much.  

 5                 Assemblyman Chairman Englebright.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Before that, we'd 

 7          like to announce that we've been joined by 

 8          Senator Liz Krueger.  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  And we've been 

10          joined by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, 

11          Assemblyman Sean Ryan, Assemblyman Chairman 

12          Bill Magee, and Assemblywoman Addie Jenne. 

13                 And now Mr. Englebright.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 

15          Mr. Farrell.  

16                 Good morning, Commissioner.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning, 

18          sir.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  The 

20          $2 billion appropriation that the Governor 

21          has proposed, does that stand in support of 

22          the premise that we really need to be making 

23          a substantial infrastructure investment and 

24          that this is all that we need to do, or would 


                                                                  33

 1          the agency and the Governor support the $5 

 2          billion initiative that Senator O'Mara and I 

 3          are helping to propose?

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, obviously 

 5          the $2 billion is a start.  And just so we 

 6          get some context for it, the money we've 

 7          spent so far under WIIA, which amounts to 

 8          about $400 million, that's already leveraged 

 9          well over a billion dollars in total 

10          projects.

11                 So using the same math, our $2 billion 

12          over the course of five years is likely to 

13          leverage over $10 billion in projects.  

14          That's just some context for the amount of 

15          spending, because of the loan program we have 

16          and the effectiveness of it.

17                 I can't speak to the Division of 

18          Budget and its ability to withstand more 

19          debt.  I leave that to them.  But there's 

20          obviously a need out there.  We projected a 

21          need of $30 billion over 20 years for 

22          wastewater infrastructure.  The $2 billion we 

23          know will help to address the most serious 

24          concerns over that time.  And we'll certainly 


                                                                  34

 1          work with you and your staffs and the 

 2          Division of Budget to see if we can increase 

 3          that.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  The need 

 5          is -- if you include water supply along with 

 6          wastewater disposal --

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's much bigger 

 8          than that.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  -- the need 

10          is closer to $70 billion to $80 billion.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So this is 

13          kind of a drop in the bucket, no pun 

14          intended.  But we seem to at least be pulling 

15          in the same direction, which is encouraging.

16                 The State Comptroller has said that 

17          only $75 million of the $2 billion is 

18          projected to be spent in fiscal year 

19          2017-2018.  Is that correct?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I am not aware 

21          of that calculation.  We would certainly -- 

22          we already have, in 2017-2018, $175 million 

23          programmed for wastewater out of the WIIA 

24          funding.  And we're proposing that the 


                                                                  35

 1          $2 billion is in addition to that.  So we'd 

 2          be making $400 million available this year in 

 3          addition to that 175.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  The DOB has 

 5          indicated that it would be about $400 million 

 6          a year for five years, and yet there are no 

 7          specifics in here.  How do we know that a 

 8          single item like information technology isn't 

 9          going to gobble up more traditional DEC 

10          investments into wastewater and supply?

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, as I told 

12          Senator O'Mara, we will be working with you 

13          and your staffs to provide more specificity 

14          on each of those programs.  There's an 

15          unquestioned need on infrastructure.  That's 

16          where our priority is.  There's an 

17          unquestioned need on source water protection; 

18          that's another huge priority.  Obviously, IT 

19          infrastructure is important for the 

20          department, but that's going to be a much, 

21          much smaller priority than our capital 

22          expenditures out in the field.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  In a sense 

24          of historical perspective and fairness, I 


                                                                  36

 1          should point out that our missing partner 

 2          here is the federal government, which has 

 3          been disinvesting in these very important 

 4          areas.  We'd like to work with you to help 

 5          appeal to our representatives at the federal 

 6          level for them to do their part.

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think that's 

 8          incredibly important.  There's been a lot of 

 9          talk about infrastructure at the federal 

10          level and the new administration's commitment 

11          to infrastructure.  And I would stress it's 

12          the invisible infrastructure that gets 

13          ignored, but that happens to be in some cases 

14          the most important infrastructure, and we 

15          have to do all we can to remind the feds not 

16          to lose sight of that.

17                 Just to clarify, half of what we are 

18          proposing -- so half of the $400 million a 

19          year -- is going to go towards water 

20          infrastructure.  And the IT concept is a 

21          one-year expenditure.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  This year 

23          the EPF includes a number of new items that 

24          had previously been funded elsewhere.  This 


                                                                  37

 1          includes, for example, payment for 

 2          enforcement of certain local Navigation Law 

 3          expenses.  These items, in aggregate, are 

 4          worthwhile.  However, they decrease the 

 5          traditional EPF expenditures for items that 

 6          we've seen the EPF used for in the past.

 7                 So this is an interesting departure 

 8          from what we would expect, given the kinds of 

 9          stresses that the EPF is undergoing.  What's 

10          the rationale behind these transfers?

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So respectfully, 

12          I'd ask you to raise that with Commissioner 

13          Harvey, because that's a program that Parks 

14          administers.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  That's not 

16          just Commissioner Harvey.  I mean, there are 

17          a whole variety of offloads that are now 

18          being placed in the capital expenditures that 

19          previously were not capital items.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I can just tell 

21          you that the navigation concept that you 

22          brought up is a Parks Department program.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Overall, the 

24          DEC staff has remained around 3,000 


                                                                  38

 1          employees.  It's down about a thousand, or 25 

 2          percent, since the early 2000s.  But your 

 3          responsibilities keep growing.  Do you feel 

 4          that you have sufficient staff to perform the 

 5          many functions of your department?  

 6                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I do.  I do.  

 7          And having been at the department now for a 

 8          year, I feel honored to have been able to 

 9          work with our staff on some of the most 

10          challenging issues to come across our agency 

11          in many years.  The way that we responded in 

12          Hoosick Falls -- in addition to Hoosick 

13          Falls, we had other areas around the state 

14          that had very significant pollution problems, 

15          and we rose to the challenge in a very 

16          successful way with the staffing that we 

17          have.  

18                 I think what's really important to me 

19          is not just how many staff you have, but what 

20          resources they have.  We've worked now for 

21          six years in restoring environmental 

22          budgets -- I mean, bringing the EPF from what 

23          it was, 134, now up to $300 million.  There 

24          was no NY Works when we started six years 


                                                                  39

 1          ago.  Superfund expired two years ago.  

 2          Thankfully, we came together and reauthorized 

 3          Superfund because that gave our staff, our 

 4          2,946 employees, the chance to go out there 

 5          and solve some of these incredibly 

 6          complicated problems for the benefit of New 

 7          Yorkers.

 8                 So I think it's a testament to our 

 9          collective work and the funding we've been 

10          able to provide to our staffs to help them 

11          carry out their mission.  And that's why I'm 

12          confident we can continue that moving 

13          forward.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Last year, 

15          of course, was the first time that we saw the 

16          $300 million figure.  It was because we had a 

17          bunch of settlement money.  So going forward, 

18          we're probably not going to have settlement 

19          money.  Is the $300 million level planned on 

20          being maintained or increased?  And if so, 

21          through the use of bonding, would the EPF be 

22          responsible for debt service payments?

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The $300 million 

24          is absolutely in the financial plan moving 


                                                                  40

 1          forward.  We intend to sustain that through 

 2          bonding.  And our Division of Budget has 

 3          assured us that that is within the state's 

 4          capabilities moving forward.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Is the cost 

 6          of the bonding going to be placed upon the 

 7          EPF, is the question.

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  My deputy 

 9          commissioner for administration has advised 

10          me no.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay.

12                 The land acquisition category in the 

13          EPF was reduced this year by $7 million, from 

14          $40 million last year.  It's only $33 million 

15          this year.  Why the decrease?

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So we have -- 

17          our Open Space Conservation plan has given us 

18          a framework for land acquisition moving 

19          forward.  We continue to close on properties 

20          across the state.  We didn't reach the figure 

21          that we projected last year, so we've pulled 

22          that back in order to prioritize several 

23          other categories.  

24                 However, as I mentioned in my opening 


                                                                  41

 1          testimony, as part of the $2 billion we 

 2          certainly want to continue and in fact 

 3          enhance land acquisition across the state, 

 4          albeit slightly differently.  Whereas the 

 5          state -- be it DEC or Parks, through the 

 6          EPF -- does land acquisition through the EPF, 

 7          the Clean Water Infrastructure Act would 

 8          provide funds for municipalities to do some 

 9          of that.  So the net benefit to New York is 

10          going to be more land acquisition moving 

11          forward, not less.  So that line is somewhat 

12          covering up of the fact that more will be 

13          purchased.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay.  The 

15          Governor's State of the State message 

16          mentioned that the DEC will construct 

17          infrastructure at the Boreas Ponds in the 

18          Adirondacks and build trails as part of a 

19          "hut to hut" system.  Does the Executive 

20          Budget contain funding for this proposal?  

21          And if so, how much?  And also, would such a 

22          proposal involve the construction of 

23          structures on the Forest Preserve?  I, for 

24          one, would be very concerned about that.


                                                                  42

 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So the Governor 

 2          has proposed $50 million to go into a new 

 3          program called Adventure NY.  Adventure NY 

 4          would provide funds for us to do projects all 

 5          across the state, chiefly in the Adirondacks 

 6          and Catskills, where we have land.  Some of 

 7          the investments we intend to make around the 

 8          Boreas property would involve repairing 

 9          certain assets, trail networks, boat launches 

10          and whatnot.  

11                 There are -- there's nothing in terms 

12          of structures planned for the Boreas lands.  

13          There's certainly -- we will do our best to 

14          make a coordinated trail network, coordinated 

15          hut-to-hut network around the Adirondacks 

16          that takes advantage of our properties but 

17          also helps increase the amount of lodging.  

18          In some cases, our campgrounds are the only 

19          lodging in municipalities within the 

20          Adirondacks.  So that's the concept.  

21                 In addition to the work we'll do to 

22          secure the Boreas property, in conjunction 

23          with the APA we're also proposing $32 million 

24          over time to go into the Frontier Town, which 


                                                                  43

 1          is a new project just off of Exit 29.  Some 

 2          of those funds will come right out of 

 3          Adventure NY.  It will be designed to bring a 

 4          new gateway to the Adirondacks that doesn't 

 5          exist right now.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We had a 

 7          hard time finding where the $3 million for 

 8          the southern pine beetle was.  Could you tell 

 9          us, where is this money in the budget?

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So within the 

11          invasive species line of the EPF, with our NY 

12          Works funds, where applicable, and also 

13          through the stewardship line of the EPF.  

14                 In addition to that, we're producing 

15          federal grants.  We already have some federal 

16          grants now, and given the nature of invasive 

17          species, the federal government has to have a 

18          greater stake in that, and we would seek more 

19          funds out of the federal government on that 

20          this year.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We have a 

22          number of new Superfund sites.  Does this 

23          program currently have sufficient assets to 

24          address all of the identified and potential 


                                                                  44

 1          sites?  

 2                 And the Executive Budget would also 

 3          authorize transfer of funding from the 

 4          $2 billion proposed water appropriation to 

 5          the same account that funds the Superfund 

 6          program.  Is this funding necessary to 

 7          maintain the fund's solvency?  

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So the first 

 9          part of your question, do we have enough 

10          funds now in Superfund, luckily we do.  We 

11          have $100 million a year to address pure 

12          Superfund sites.  Those are sites that are -- 

13          by their nature, they qualify for Superfund 

14          based on their hazardous waste status and 

15          threats to public health and the environment.

16                 You're right, we are proposing to 

17          direct a portion of the $2 billion Clean 

18          Water Infrastructure Act to address 

19          contaminated sites that don't rise to the 

20          level of Superfund sites but are nonetheless 

21          a threat to drinking water -- such sites as 

22          landfills, salt, salt piles.  Things of that 

23          nature that are not necessarily hazardous but 

24          are nonetheless threatening to drinking 


                                                                  45

 1          water, we would propose to use the Superfund 

 2          mechanism and the staffs that work on those 

 3          projects to conduct an enhanced amount of 

 4          work around the state.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 

 6          Commissioner.

 7                 Mr. Farrell.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

10                 We've been joined by Senator Betty 

11          Little.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So thank you, 

14          Commissioner.  I have several questions, and 

15          I'd like to follow up.  

16                 But first of all, I'd like to commend 

17          the Governor and you for including $400 

18          million for the Water Quality Infrastructure 

19          Improvement Act and also $2 billion for the 

20          Clean Water Infrastructure Act.  And as my 

21          colleague Senator O'Mara and my colleague 

22          Assemblyman Englebright pointed out, we'd 

23          like to actually increase those funds for 

24          infrastructure and water, and especially 


                                                                  46

 1          water projects.

 2                 You know, Albany was first claimed for 

 3          the Dutch in 1609.  And I point that out 

 4          because New York is such an old state.  We're 

 5          a very historic state that we're all very 

 6          proud of.  We're the Empire State.  But we're 

 7          an old state.  We were settled hundreds and 

 8          hundreds of years ago.  And as a result, our 

 9          communities across the state struggle with 

10          infrastructure problems.  In many cases, 

11          infrastructure is falling apart.  We've been 

12          faced with some terrible situations of water 

13          quality issues in the state, and that's why 

14          we need those funds, obviously.

15                 But Assemblyman Englebright pointed 

16          out the need for the infrastructure and the 

17          Superfund.  I just was wondering, you talk 

18          about the ability to transfer the money over 

19          to the Superfund from some of the 

20          infrastructure money.  But when we've checked 

21          in the past, it's never gone over $90 

22          million.  So you talk about these 

23          lesser-of-a-threat sites, but are you 

24          concerned that maybe as you investigate these 


                                                                  47

 1          sites, they may rise to a Superfund status?  

 2          Is that why you want the flexibility or -- 

 3          could you address that?  

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, that's 

 5          certainly a possibility.  I mean, we would 

 6          propose to increase our capabilities into 

 7          Superfund in part financially, to address 

 8          those Superfund sites that we come across.

 9                 So there are many -- you know, 

10          certainly many -- probably many sites out 

11          there that are not currently characterized as 

12          Superfund sites that we know about -- many of 

13          the landfills around the state.  Certainly 

14          our investigations, if they rise to that 

15          level, we would be able to classify those 

16          differently and more aggressively and conduct 

17          more investigations.  But that's what those 

18          funds are designed to do.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.  Because, 

20          you know, there are limited resources.  

21          They're scarce.  And we have so many needs 

22          that if -- so I just wanted to ask that 

23          question.

24                 Why does the land acquisition portion 


                                                                  48

 1          of the water quality proposal not include the 

 2          ability of local governments to play a part 

 3          in the decision-making process?

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, as you 

 5          know, within the EPF that's worked very well 

 6          for many, many years, having local government 

 7          control and local government involvement.  

 8          And I would say we are certainly willing to 

 9          entertain that discussion to have local 

10          government be a part of the land acquisitions 

11          that would come out of this Clean Water 

12          Infrastructure Act.

13                 I mean, we are making grants directly 

14          available to local government to do some of 

15          those projects.  But even the projects that 

16          they aren't necessarily involved in -- if 

17          it's going to a nonprofit, for example -- you 

18          raise a good point, it might be worthwhile 

19          having local government involved at all 

20          levels.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I would encourage 

22          that.  I think the more that you get local 

23          governments involved, I think it just makes 

24          the project better all around.  So that would 


                                                                  49

 1          be great.

 2                 What specific problems have been 

 3          encountered in responding to water quality 

 4          crises using the current emergency rulemaking 

 5          statutes?

 6                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I'm sorry, can 

 7          you -- can you -- 

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So when we've had a 

 9          water quality crisis -- and we've had those 

10          in the state, unfortunately -- are there 

11          things in the law that get in the way when 

12          you're responding to emergency situations?

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, a perfect 

14          example of that, obviously, is PFOA, which up 

15          until early January of last year was not a 

16          regulated contaminant at the federal level or 

17          certainly at the state level.

18                 We worked very quickly to put out 

19          emergency regulations declaring PFOA and PFOS 

20          as hazardous contaminants.  That enabled us 

21          to then go spend Superfund dollars to fix a 

22          very, very significant problem in Hoosick 

23          Falls and elsewhere.

24                 We were able to move quickly.  It took 


                                                                  50

 1          an enormous amount of staff time to pull off 

 2          this emergency regulation within the span of 

 3          just a few weeks.  Typically that takes much 

 4          longer.  But we have the ability at DEC to 

 5          move quickly if we find something within our 

 6          own authorities, and then we can turn that 

 7          around and effectively address it for the 

 8          benefit of the public.

 9                 So I would just offer that as an 

10          example of our ability to move without 

11          hurdle.  But that may not be the case with 

12          every contaminant we come across.  There 

13          might be other, you know, hurdles that we 

14          address along the way.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So with the 

16          Governor's proposals that he includes 

17          regarding water quality, are there provisions 

18          that actually address some of the emergency 

19          situations that may arise?  Are there other 

20          things that can be done to address the 

21          situation so that, you know, everybody can be 

22          ready if something does happen?

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, certainly 

24          we are very well coordinated right now with 


                                                                  51

 1          the Department of Health on water issues 

 2          around the state.  The Governor launched the 

 3          Water Quality Rapid Response Team back in 

 4          February, about a year ago exactly.  And 

 5          through that, Commissioner Zucker and I have 

 6          been organizing our staffs very efficiently 

 7          to respond to situations that come across our 

 8          tables.

 9                 So we've obviously started very 

10          aggressively in Hoosick Falls, but have 

11          worked on enormous responses to places like 

12          Newburgh, when the City of Newburgh lost its 

13          water supply.  And we quickly pivoted and 

14          connected it to the New York City Catskill 

15          Aqueduct and began treating all the dirtier 

16          water coming off the Stewart Air Base.  The 

17          same thing happened at Gabreski, down on Long 

18          Island, Gabreski Air National Guard Base, 

19          where we moved very quickly.  

20                 So the Governor has been giving us all 

21          the resources that we need to very 

22          effectively respond to these crises as they 

23          come up, and I don't foresee any barriers to 

24          our ability to move quickly on that moving 


                                                                  52

 1          forward.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good.  Great.  

 3          Thank you.  

 4                 The Governor's proposal allows 

 5          unilateral expansion of the definition of 

 6          "solid waste site" beyond its current 

 7          definition that's in regulation.  So what 

 8          additional types of sites beyond landfills do 

 9          you anticipate adding to the definition of 

10          solid waste?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, the 

12          definition is obviously very broad right now.  

13          And not all solid waste sites are necessarily 

14          hazardous, but might cause issues to nearby 

15          drinking water supplies.  And, you know, 

16          there are areas where you have high levels of 

17          salt or high levels of even naturally 

18          occurring materials that would demand that we 

19          get in there and move aggressively.  So the 

20          definition broadens our ability to go out 

21          aggressively after those kinds of sites, 

22          using Superfund dollars.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

24                 Again, the $300 million for the 


                                                                  53

 1          Environmental Protection Fund is included 

 2          again this year.  And there's a $40.9 million 

 3          amount, an increase of $6.1 million, for 

 4          solid waste programs; $86.8 million, an 

 5          increase of $5.3 million, for Parks and 

 6          Recreation programs; $150.6 million, a 

 7          decrease of $11 million, for Open Space 

 8          programs, as was pointed out; and $21.7 

 9          million, a decrease of $350,000 for climate 

10          change programs.

11                 So we're just discussing solid waste.  

12          Under the solid waste account, there are $3 

13          million in additional funding for food 

14          donation, recycling and organics projects.  

15          What is the purpose of these funds?

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So food disposal 

17          and food waste has become a major issue, not 

18          only in New York but nationwide.  We waste an 

19          enormous amount of food.  It just literally 

20          is thrown off our plates into the garbage.  

21          And that's true not only on the home front 

22          but also in many commercial establishments 

23          around the state, and institutions.  

24                 It not only takes valuable resources 


                                                                  54

 1          away from the environment, it costs a lot of 

 2          money to raise food that you throw away.  It 

 3          absorbs quite a bit of water.  What we need 

 4          to do is a comprehensive approach to reducing 

 5          food waste by getting more of it to food 

 6          banks around the state, to the homeless and 

 7          to the hungry, keeping more of it out of 

 8          landfills.  Food waste in landfills generates 

 9          an enormous amount of methane and is a 

10          significant contributor to our overall 

11          climate change footprint.  And certainly, you 

12          know, the cost of handling waste to landfills 

13          is enormous.  

14                 So our plan announced by the Governor 

15          is to mandate that food waste, starting in 

16          2021, is redirected, directed away from 

17          landfills, from waste, into as much reuse as 

18          possible.  The grants we're proposing now 

19          through the EPF are going to help to generate 

20          a market for that waste, whether it's a 

21          market with the food banks or certainly a 

22          market with anaerobic digestion around the 

23          state.  The food banks are going to be one of 

24          the primary institutions that we start 


                                                                  55

 1          working with right off the bat.  

 2                 But in anticipation of those 

 3          regulations taking effect, we want to make 

 4          sure that there are enough places where 

 5          businesses of all kinds -- grocery stores, 

 6          businesses, institutions -- can send their 

 7          materials.  And it will be a very effective 

 8          system once it's up and running.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

10                 Within the climate change account, 

11          there's a $14 million allocation for Climate 

12          Smart Communities, and it's a competition.  

13          Could you tell us about that?  

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Well, we 

15          actually introduced that last year.  And in 

16          the first year, we actually gave out 

17          $11 million.  We announced the program right 

18          after the budget in 2016, and made awards in 

19          December, Climate Smart grants.  These grants 

20          went out to communities all across the state 

21          for reducing carbon footprints, so making 

22          buildings more efficient.  They also went 

23          towards climate resiliency projects around 

24          the state, such as increasing green 


                                                                  56

 1          infrastructure in various communities.  

 2                 It was a very attractive program.  We 

 3          got lots of very fantastic applications.  And 

 4          we turned around great grants for many 

 5          municipalities.  

 6                 We also had a smaller grant program in 

 7          that number, the $14 million, for 

 8          zero-emission vehicle programs.  It was also 

 9          very well subscribed by municipalities.  

10          That's what we intend to continue this year.

11                 So the Climate Smart Communities is a 

12          designation that we give to communities based 

13          on their intent to become more resilient for 

14          climate change purposes.  That helps in the 

15          scoring of those projects when they come to 

16          us, if you are a Climate Smart Community, but 

17          it's not a barrier to it if you are not.  So 

18          if you've got a good idea and you want to 

19          come to us for funding, we will help fund it.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  We've been joined 

22          by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett.

23                 Now for questioning, Assemblywoman 

24          Fahy.


                                                                  57

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you, 

 2          Mr. Chairman.  

 3                 And thank you again, Commissioner, for 

 4          your presentation and your comments.  And I 

 5          commend you and the Governor for putting at 

 6          the top of your list the climate change issue 

 7          as well as the drinking water protection.  I 

 8          couldn't agree more.

 9                 I have a couple of comments, just in 

10          the interests of time, and then just a couple 

11          of questions.  We appreciate that you came to 

12          join our Environmental Committee last week, 

13          so I did have a chance to ask you a couple of 

14          these, so I'm just going to make note of them 

15          and get to my other questions.  

16                 The Port of Albany, as you know, is 

17          just a stone's throw from here.  And I am a 

18          little bit concerned with what we are hearing 

19          about with the new berths and anchorage spots 

20          proposed for further down the river, which I 

21          assume will increase port traffic here with 

22          the oil trains that also come into the port.

23                 And I understand this is all tied to 

24          the lifting of the ban on selling oil 


                                                                  58

 1          overseas.  So I'm very concerned.  I know it 

 2          came up last week, and look forward to your 

 3          comments on that, because we do want to make 

 4          sure we minimize all risks.  We know what has 

 5          happened in the Mississippi just a year or 

 6          two ago with shutting down that river for 

 7          months and months because of oil barge 

 8          disasters.

 9                 On that note, also I commend you for 

10          the environmental justice work that you are 

11          doing -- and thank you for noting it in your 

12          testimony -- with the truck traffic right 

13          near the port, along Pearl Street.  Thank you 

14          for awarding the grants to do that air 

15          quality.  We look forward to the results on 

16          that, because that is a very, very serious 

17          concern, especially given some of the health 

18          consequences of that in that environmental 

19          justice community.

20                 And tied to that, of course, is the 

21          bill I have to increase oil train safety, 

22          which I look forward to working with you on.

23                 A question, then, back on water.  You 

24          mentioned in your testimony the $2 billion, 


                                                                  59

 1          and we appreciate that the Governor is 

 2          proposing that significant increase in water 

 3          infrastructure grants.  Though I want to 

 4          reiterate the comments from Chairman 

 5          Englebright that certainly we know it is a -- 

 6          there is so much more need, given the $80 

 7          billion that is estimated and certainly that 

 8          the federal government has not been stepping 

 9          up to the degree that we need them to step up 

10          to address the water crisis.

11                 You mention that in your testimony 

12          that you see that a part of that money would 

13          go toward incentivizing consolidation.  Can 

14          you elaborate on what you mean by that?  

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.

16                 There are many municipalities around 

17          the state that share proximate 

18          infrastructure.  So sewage plants that are 

19          nearby, sewage gathering lines that are 

20          nearby, water treatment plants that are 

21          nearby one another, all of them needing 

22          upgrades.  The funding we would propose for 

23          that would be almost on a separate track to 

24          encourage consolidation of those services, 


                                                                  60

 1          knowing in some cases it's far more effective 

 2          to build a smaller modern plant that can run 

 3          more efficiently than it is to repair two 

 4          older ones.  So that's what that's 

 5          specifically designed to get at.

 6                 We have already -- we know of many 

 7          plants around the state where this might be 

 8          an effective dedication of the state's 

 9          resources, and we'd be happy to share the 

10          list of those sites with you.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  

12                 I'm also working on legislation to 

13          incentivize localities to work more on that, 

14          as well as looking at the cap on those funds 

15          right now of $5 million, which as you know, 

16          just here in this region, there's a $90 

17          million project underway, an important one.  

18          But certainly a tremendous need is here in 

19          our localities.  

20                 One other comment, and then one 

21          question.  The staffing issue, I know that 

22          again was already raised.  I just want to 

23          share the concerns about the staffing, 

24          particularly with regard to permitting the 


                                                                  61

 1          permit process, which we know has been a 

 2          contentious one in the past.  I recognize 

 3          that there is no proposal again, but I do 

 4          want to echo the concerns of if the staffing 

 5          needs are there so that we don't delay on the 

 6          inspections, they're very critical -- for 

 7          instance, the oil train inspections -- as 

 8          well as any unnecessary delays in the 

 9          permitting process that is so essential.  Or 

10          permit reviews, I should say.

11                 Second question, Adventure NY.  I have 

12          read and you mentioned the proposal, the $50 

13          million proposal to encourage and to provide 

14          upgrades in the Adirondacks and the 

15          Catskills, including the Frontier Park.  Can 

16          you talk about what is included in that 

17          proposal to encourage more -- or to target 

18          and provide better access to our low-income 

19          areas, particularly those in our urban areas?  

20                 As you know, since the recession, we 

21          have had -- well, the recession combined with 

22          a decrease in education funding and combined 

23          with the increase in testing, we have -- the 

24          number of field trips among our youth, 


                                                                  62

 1          school-aged youth, has absolutely plummeted.  

 2          And it's hard to encourage better stewards 

 3          among youth and families or to grow stewards 

 4          of our environment and of our park systems if 

 5          we don't improve the access, particularly 

 6          among urban youth and low-income youth.

 7                 I've addressed this with our Parks 

 8          commissioner as well, and she's been actually 

 9          terrific in increasing some proposals.  But 

10          can you talk about what might be in that 

11          Adventure NY proposal that would also 

12          increase access for those communities?

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes, of course.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So we're very 

16          excited about all the things that Adventure 

17          NY will do for our facilities.  We need to 

18          upgrade our facilities.  In many cases, they 

19          haven't had the kind of investment that 

20          they've needed over the years.  Nonetheless, 

21          they're getting heavy use.  So we want to 

22          make the experience that one gets when they 

23          get to these places much, much better.

24                 All of our investments are near -- or 


                                                                  63

 1          many of them, at least, are near or within a 

 2          short driving distance from urban areas.  A 

 3          perfect example is Reinstein Woods, out in 

 4          Buffalo, which is just 9 miles from the city 

 5          center of Buffalo.  We have Five Rivers, 

 6          which is just out in Delmar, very close to 

 7          the City of Albany.

 8                 Adventure NY will be designed to 

 9          upgrade those facilities and the campgrounds 

10          that we use, the campgrounds that service so 

11          many of our visitors from cities.

12                 We have great coordination with Rose 

13          Harvey on her programs, and the program we 

14          actually worked on together, Connect Kids, 

15          which is designed to bring kids out of urban 

16          areas into some of our wilder places.  We've 

17          doubled the amount of money in this budget to 

18          a million dollars that would be used for 

19          Connect Kids, and that's specifically 

20          designed to improve our facilities for the 

21          use of our facilities by kids in urban areas.

22                 We have Adventure NY, and we also have 

23          our EJ programs, which are designed really to 

24          work in tandem.  They're two separate 


                                                                  64

 1          programs, but they really are just one.  It's 

 2          sort of one DEC and one mission.

 3                 So with the money that we are 

 4          proposing to direct towards environmental 

 5          justice organizations around the state, that 

 6          will help them build their capacity, it will 

 7          help us address needs within urban areas.  

 8          And then ultimately, if we are doing a better 

 9          job of ensuring that environmental justice 

10          communities have access to cleaner air and 

11          cleaner water, that will a hundred percent 

12          involve their ability to get to our wilder 

13          places.  

14                 So I believe this is vital.  It's 

15          something the Governor has given us the tools 

16          to do in this budget.  And I'm excited for 

17          the next year.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  I 

19          look forward to following up with you, 

20          particularly on the transportation for 

21          school-age children.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you, 


                                                                  65

 1          Mr. Chairman.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 3                 Our next speaker is Senator Kaminsky.

 4                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Good morning, 

 5          Commissioner.

 6                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning, 

 7          Senator.

 8                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Many of us on Long 

 9          Island, in light of recent news stories and a 

10          lot of what's come out have been concerned 

11          with 1,4-dioxane in the water supply, which 

12          you brought up a little earlier.  I was 

13          hoping you can fill us in on what you and 

14          coordinate state agencies are doing to 

15          address the problem.

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  So as 

17          you know -- and thank you for your work on 

18          this -- 1,4-dioxane is a ubiquitous chemical.  

19          It was used for many, many years in 

20          manufacturing as a solvent.  And it is still 

21          used very widely today at lower levels in 

22          consumer-care products.  

23                 The EPA in 2013-2014 did testing of 

24          wells in Long Island and discovered that 


                                                                  66

 1          though well below EPA guidelines, 1,4-dioxane 

 2          was showing up in about 71 percent of the 

 3          wells down there.

 4                 So we clearly need to get a better 

 5          sense what the causes are, where the 

 6          1,4-dioxane is coming from, what the safe 

 7          levels are for it.  Again, while the 

 8          levels are all very low and below standards 

 9          right now, we need to find out what the 

10          impacts are of it.

11                 So over the last year we've been, 

12          chiefly on the DOH side, working with Suffolk 

13          County to put in a treatment system, a new 

14          technology to be used at scale on a drinking 

15          water well to see whether or not that type of 

16          technology, called advanced oxidation, can be 

17          used more widely.  It has been used for many 

18          years at Superfund sites across the state, 

19          but at very low levels of flow.  We want to 

20          see if it can be used at a higher level of 

21          flow.  So that project, we should get the 

22          results of that in 2017.

23                 We're also recognizing the difficulty 

24          of treatment.  We are also -- the Governor 


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 1          last year announced $5 million for 

 2          1,4-dioxane treatment technologies to the 

 3          Center for Clean Water Technology at SUNY 

 4          Stony Brook.  That research is underway right 

 5          now.  And at DEC we are aggressively 

 6          pursuing, through Superfund and the Clean 

 7          Water Act and our SPDES permitting program, 

 8          the potential sources of the 1,4-dioxane in 

 9          the groundwater.

10                 Over the weekend, the Governor wrote a 

11          letter to the acting administrator of the 

12          EPA, urging her to set an enforceable 

13          nationwide limit for 1,4-dioxane in drinking 

14          water.  And the Governor had said that if the 

15          federal government does not do that, then the 

16          state will do that, using a body of experts.

17                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  You know, the 

18          people on Long Island are obviously 

19          concerned.  It's on the cover of their 

20          newspaper.  The term "likely carcinogenic" is 

21          attached to 1,4-dioxane, and so they would 

22          love to see these real aggressive steps and 

23          knowing that there's -- you're working as 

24          hard as you can on a solution for it.


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 1                 And of course, you know, getting our 

 2          federal partners involved is important.  But 

 3          I think if we're waiting for this 

 4          administration to suddenly come down and 

 5          regulate 1,4-dioxane, I think another plan 

 6          has to be pursued at the same time.  And I 

 7          hope you continue to do that aggressively and 

 8          alert the people of Long Island, who have the 

 9          highest amount of this in their water, as to 

10          what you're doing.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Certainly will.  

12          And we look forward to working with you on 

13          that.

14                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Definitely.  

15                 You and I have spoken about the 

16          Bay Park outfall pipe, and we've both 

17          commonly called it a game-changing project 

18          for the South Shore, protecting the bays.  

19          Can you give us an update as to where we are 

20          with that?  It's been a few years now, and 

21          still every day there's treated effluent 

22          getting pumped out into the waters in some of 

23          the great communities on the South Shore of 

24          Long Island without any relief.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, without a 

 2          doubt, figuring out a solution to the Bay 

 3          Park outfall is going to be a game-changer 

 4          for water quality in Long Island.  It's a 

 5          massive project.  When we started on this a 

 6          couple of years ago, it was how do we 

 7          redesign this outfall at Bay Park, with an 

 8          enormous figure of, you know, over 

 9          $500 million.

10                 Since then, you know, my team has been 

11          working very creatively and proactively with 

12          Nassau County on alternatives to that.  And 

13          that involves, as you know, the Cedar Creek 

14          outfall.  My staff is in negotiations right 

15          now with Nassau County, trying to lock down 

16          the use of the Cedar Creek outfall, which 

17          would be a lower-cost alternative using 

18          existing infrastructure to get rid of that 

19          waste in an effective and clean manner.  

20                 So I don't want to characterize 

21          exactly where the negotiations are, other 

22          than I have some staff that are, you know, 

23          pulling their hair out trying to finish it 

24          up.  And we hope to be able to announce it 


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 1          this year.

 2                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay, thank you.

 3                 And lastly, people in my area that 

 4          rely on the Lloyd aquifer have been troubled 

 5          by recent reports about saltwater intrusion 

 6          and other threats to the aquifer, the 

 7          sole-source pure aquifer that we have.  And I 

 8          know that Chairman Englebright, who's here, 

 9          has spent a good part of his career working 

10          on this.

11                 Can you tell us where we are with 

12          finding out the state of our aquifers and 

13          what plan we have to make sure that they're 

14          not being overpumped or harmed in any other 

15          way?  

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  That is a 

17          major, major situation down on Long Island.  

18          And last year the Governor announced that we 

19          are launching a multiyear study with the 

20          USGS, a $6 million study over several years, 

21          to characterize the full extent of the 

22          groundwater on Long Island.  That work is 

23          underway right now.  In fact, we are on the 

24          verge of drilling the first pilot well, which 


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 1          is designed to characterize groundwater 

 2          flows.  We have historical inputs from 

 3          Suffolk County.  We would intend to take 

 4          advantage of the existing information out 

 5          there and create a new layer of information 

 6          through this effort.  

 7                 But this is very much underway right 

 8          now.  I think we actually have a meeting 

 9          tomorrow, a big stakeholder meeting tomorrow 

10          on this down in Long Island with USGS and 

11          some of the experts that we've convened.

12                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay.  Well, thanks 

13          for your work, Commissioner.  I was obviously 

14          very pleased to see the work this weekend on 

15          1,4-dioxane and hope we continue to push and 

16          have New York really lead on this.  So thank 

17          you.

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 

19          Senator. 

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

21                 Chairman Farrell.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

23                 Assemblyman Dan Stec.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Thank you, 


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 1          Chairman.  

 2                 Good morning, Commissioner.  Thanks 

 3          for joining us.

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning, 

 5          Assemblyman.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  A couple of quick 

 7          questions.  Mostly I wanted to follow up 

 8          on -- last year we had a hearing here, I 

 9          believe it was in this room, on the 

10          electronic waste program and the problems 

11          that it's had.  That law was passed predating 

12          my tenure in the Legislature, so it's been 

13          kicking around for at least five, six years 

14          now.

15                 And generally the law requires that 

16          manufacturers provide for disposal of 

17          household electronic waste.  In effect, 

18          though, that is not occurring, and there's a 

19          lot of people or municipalities that are 

20          forced to pay or sometimes go to great 

21          lengths to try to find somebody that will 

22          take the stuff, either for charge or not.

23                 But certainly I think the intent and 

24          everyone's understanding of the law was that 


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 1          this was not supposed to cost the consumer or 

 2          the local municipalities, who are under the 

 3          gun with the tax cap and more edicts from 

 4          Albany about, you know, how they should be 

 5          spending their money, and yet I've got local 

 6          municipalities in my district that are using 

 7          taxpayer dollars to subsidize this program or 

 8          this fiat.  

 9                 What is the current update as far as 

10          the regulations and trying to get the -- 

11          because I know that there are some 

12          investigations, there was reports that the 

13          department has authority to create and 

14          enforce and -- but I think the gist of the 

15          hearing last year was that changes need to be 

16          made.  And I wanted to know if you can update 

17          us.

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  Well, I 

19          would say this.  The e-waste law has been 

20          very successful in many ways in keeping 

21          e-waste out of landfills and out of many 

22          parts of the state where we wouldn't want it.

23                 We have seen the trends heading in the 

24          right direction on people taking advantage of 


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 1          the program.  But I absolutely hear you on 

 2          the burdens that municipalities have been 

 3          facing.  One of the biggest problems with 

 4          e-waste is nobody wants the old televisions.  

 5          It's the old leaded glass that's very 

 6          difficult to handle.  The commodity pricing 

 7          right now across the board is quite low, and 

 8          it's harder and harder for businesses to take 

 9          advantage of the program and actually make 

10          money off of these commodities.  

11                 So last year, as you know, we worked 

12          with you to announce a grant forum for munis, 

13          and about $1.3 million has gone out from that 

14          program to help offset some of the burden 

15          that they're facing.  There's still $1.7 

16          million available and unclaimed; we've 

17          actually announced it two or three times.  So 

18          if there's more we can do to get the word out 

19          that there's funding available to offset some 

20          of the burdens that they're facing, we need 

21          to make that known that this money is 

22          available.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  The law says that 

24          the manufacturers are on the hook for this.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  And if I was here, 

 3          perhaps I would have debated whether or not 

 4          that was the right move for the state to make 

 5          at the time.  But that's the move the state 

 6          made.

 7                 Are the manufacturers all complying?  

 8          I mean, are -- you know, there's not a local 

 9          SONY manufacturer you can just drive down and 

10          drop your -- so, I mean, which I always 

11          thought it was odd to put the manufacturer on 

12          the hook for this.  Not that I'm in a hurry 

13          to put the retailer on the hook for it 

14          either.  But, you know, clearly the intent 

15          was not for the owner of the electronic waste 

16          to be spending money.  Maybe that's where we 

17          should have landed, but that isn't where we 

18          landed.  

19                 Are the manufacturers all complying?  

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I wouldn't say 

21          they're all complying.  We certainly are 

22          managing the program with an eye towards 

23          enforcement of the existing law.

24                 We are in the midst of reforming the 


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 1          regulatory package that goes along with it, 

 2          and we'll be putting that out this year to 

 3          ensure that there's more clarity out there 

 4          and more adherence with the existing law.  

 5          And in the meantime, you know, getting the 

 6          grants out there as quickly as possible to 

 7          offset some of those burdens is one of the 

 8          things I want to make sure they're aware of.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  All right, thanks.  

10                 And I just want to shift gears quickly 

11          with the time I've got left.  My district, 

12          about a third of the Adirondacks, hundreds of 

13          lakes and rivers, lots of water concerns, 

14          quality concerns, specifically aquatic 

15          invasive species, salt loading.  

16                 You know, certainly not the only lake 

17          in my district but one that's very heavily 

18          studied and very frequently visited by all, 

19          Lake George.  We're seeing, you know, a ton 

20          of data available there, increasing trends on 

21          chloride loading.  It's tripled since 1980.  

22          What's in this budget that's new or expands 

23          existing programs for both our salt issue but 

24          aquatic invasives?  I think that, you know, 


                                                                  77

 1          Lake George has got a nice program there, 

 2          we've got boat-washing stations.  But it's 

 3          really a statewide issue, ultimately.  And I 

 4          think here's an example, if you'll forgive 

 5          the expression, of a rising tide lifts all 

 6          boats, you know, as far as if we're 

 7          addressing it on a statewide basis as opposed 

 8          to, you know, trying to chase hundreds of 

 9          individual lakes.  What's new in the budget 

10          for those issues?

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No doubt salt is 

12          an issue for many of our surface waters.  And 

13          I've gotten several briefings from the Lake 

14          George advocacy community -- and not just 

15          advocacy, local government as well, all being 

16          very concerned about the trends in those 

17          levels.

18                 We have a bit of a head start there in 

19          the sense we've got the science now.  We've 

20          got everyone pulling in the right direction; 

21          you know, historic opponents that are all 

22          concerned about the condition on the lake.  

23          And we have multiple state and local agencies 

24          that are looking at ways to improve the 


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 1          application of salt on roads.  

 2                 But as you say, this is not just a 

 3          Lake George issue, it's an issue across the 

 4          Adirondacks and really statewide.  And it's a 

 5          tough balance.  Right?  You have to balance 

 6          the road safety versus environmental and 

 7          public health.  And there's some places that 

 8          are doing it at the local government better 

 9          than others.  And we have formed a working 

10          group within the Rapid Response Team to focus 

11          on salt issues.  So we're working with the 

12          Department of Transportation and others to 

13          figure out whether or not we need to do best 

14          management practices.

15                 Within the budget, in the Clean Water 

16          Infrastructure Act, in the EPF, we are 

17          proposing specifically to provide grants for 

18          municipalities to cover salt storage areas.  

19          I think that will have a significant impact 

20          on runoff.  It doesn't get to the 

21          application, it gets to the storage of it.  

22          But those grants in the past have been very 

23          helpful, particularly in the Adirondacks, 

24          really across the board in reducing salt 


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 1          contamination.

 2                 On the invasive side, we -- again, a 

 3          unique situation I think in the Adirondacks, 

 4          where you had everyone pulling in the same 

 5          direction to address a very significant 

 6          situation.  Where places like Lake Champlain 

 7          have incredible numbers of invasive species, 

 8          and yet we've been able to stave it off on 

 9          Lake George and elsewhere.  Great boat 

10          stewards program going on right now that we 

11          will continue to fund in the Adirondacks.  

12                 We also, as you know, we put out 

13          grants.  Last year I heard loud and clear 

14          during my hearing the interest in doing 

15          eradication, not just prevention.  We believe 

16          prevention is very important because you want 

17          to prevent it from getting there in the first 

18          place.  But if it gets there, you have to get 

19          tools to people to move it out.

20                 So those grants we announced in 

21          December, I believe, $2 million.  The 

22          application process is underway right now.  

23          Those funds will certainly, I would imagine, 

24          flow towards many lake associations and 


                                                                  80

 1          municipalities up in Adirondacks.

 2                 It's certainly one of my top 

 3          priorities.  We have an inundation in 

 4          New York State, given who we are.  We are the 

 5          nexus of commerce and tourism.  And there's 

 6          an enormous amount of terrestrial and aquatic 

 7          invasives coming into the state, and we have 

 8          to do everything we can across the agencies 

 9          -- DEC, Ag and Markets, DOT.  And we work 

10          very well generally in stopping some of these 

11          problems.  But when we don't, we want to make 

12          sure we're in there doing eradications.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Thank you.

14                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I'd 

16          like to remind all the speakers to try to 

17          keep within the time period.  You all have 

18          clocks that show you where we're at.  But we 

19          have over 30 speakers scheduled for today.  

20          And if we go at this rate, we're going to run 

21          into the hearing tomorrow.

22                 Our next speaker would be Senator Tim 

23          Kennedy.

24                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Thank you, 


                                                                  81

 1          Chairwoman.  

 2                 Thank you, commissioner.  Thank you 

 3          for your service and your testimony today.

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

 5                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  I applaud the 

 6          Governor's proposal to redevelop the old 

 7          Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna, New York, 

 8          in my district.  As you're well aware, the 

 9          site has been subject to remediation over 

10          decades.  Can you elaborate on the current 

11          status of that cleanup?

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.  Well, a 

13          significant industrial site out in Buffalo 

14          that for many years was impacted by a variety 

15          of chemicals, including simple slag, which 

16          underlies most of the site.

17                 We've been working very hard with 

18          local partners, through the Brownfields 

19          Cleanup Program and through State Superfund, 

20          to address not only the hotspots but to 

21          address some of the land that isn't  as 

22          heavily impacted and can be turned into 

23          productive industrial use, reuse.

24                 We want to see the site be restored as 


                                                                  82

 1          a place of commerce and then, where 

 2          appropriate, provide some public access to 

 3          waterfronts. Smokes Creek we've talked about 

 4          being an ideal location to get people down to 

 5          the waterfront, connect the communities down 

 6          to the lake.  And working with your office 

 7          and our partners out there, we have a good 

 8          vision to get that done quickly.  We've 

 9          gotten, obviously, the creek dredged, which 

10          will help with some of the flooding issues 

11          that you see in Lackawanna.  

12                 But it's an exciting project, and it's 

13          an exciting opportunity for Buffalo to bring 

14          an old brownfields site back into productive 

15          reuse.

16                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Yeah, can you talk a 

17          little bit more about what still needs to 

18          happen to develop this into this 

19          manufacturing campus, this industrial park, 

20          as has been proposed, and what sort of 

21          timeline we may be looking at?

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I can't talk 

23          about the timeline exactly.  I mean, 

24          certainly we've made significant progress 


                                                                  83

 1          over the last few years, and we're nearing 

 2          the end of remediating some of the most 

 3          significant sites.  The acid tar pits and few 

 4          other hotspots on the property have been 

 5          remediated.  And we're doing this in 

 6          conjunction with the local community, so that 

 7          there's enough buy-in into the ultimate 

 8          redevelopment of the property.

 9                 There's work that remains, but I think 

10          we're through the worst of it at this point.  

11          And it's been a great everyone- 

12          pulling-in-the-same-direction effort.

13                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Thank you.

14                 The $2 billion proposal for water 

15          infrastructure improvement, obviously badly 

16          needed across our state.  In my district, 

17          Scajaquada Creek, as we've discussed on many 

18          occasions, has been negatively impacted by 

19          sewage overflow issues.  And just recently, 

20          last year the Town of Cheektowaga received $5 

21          million in grants, $15 million in 

22          zero-interest loans to update their sewer 

23          lines.  I appreciate your efforts and support 

24          and thank your office for all of their 


                                                                  84

 1          efforts on behalf --

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

 3                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  -- in that regard.

 4                 But this represents funding given to 

 5          municipalities.  We also have many capable 

 6          nonprofits, such as the Buffalo Niagara 

 7          Riverkeeper, willing to help with water 

 8          cleanup, infrastructure improvements, wetland 

 9          restorations.  Will any of the $2 billion be 

10          available for nonprofits to access?

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, certainly.  

12          As we discussed a little bit about 

13          source-water protection and setting aside 

14          lands, we want to make not only 

15          municipalities eligible to get those funds 

16          and setting land aside, but also to enable 

17          qualified nonprofits to do some of that work 

18          as well.  

19                 As we see quite often, there's a very 

20          thorough engagement.  That's a perfect 

21          example, Scajaquada Creek and Hoyt Lake.  

22          Those are areas where you have very solid 

23          engagement from communities and nonprofits, 

24          and some of those funds could be channeled 


                                                                  85

 1          through those organizations generally to do 

 2          source-water protection.

 3                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Is there more we can 

 4          do to engage these nonprofits?  

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely.  And 

 6          in fact, I mean, we are very thoroughly 

 7          engaged with nonprofits across the state on 

 8          environmental matters.  There's -- the Land 

 9          Trust Alliance already receives grants under 

10          the Land Trust Alliance Grant Program in the 

11          EPF.  There are parks' friends groups that 

12          get similar investments.  There's also the 

13          Water Quality Improvement Program within the 

14          EPF that's a larger grant program, $23 

15          million.  And you see grants like you're 

16          talking about right now being applied for to 

17          address watershed-type issues.  

18                 The Buffalo Riverkeeper is emblematic 

19          of the kind of group that would apply for 

20          those types of grants, and those have been 

21          very effective statewide over the last 15 or 

22          so years.

23                 SENATOR KENNEDY:   Great.  I have more 

24          questions; I will hold until later.


                                                                  86

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 3                 Assemblyman Aubry.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  Good morning, 

 5          Commissioner.  

 6                 Flushing Bay in my area is now 

 7          undergoing a major dredging --

 8                 UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Your mic's not 

 9          on.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  And it doesn't 

11          want to go on.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Take another one.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  Flushing Bay is in 

14          my district and is undergoing a major 

15          dredging.  Is the department involved in that 

16          effort?  And what can you tell me about it?  

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Is it the 

18          dredging effort?

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  Yes.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I believe that's 

21          primarily an Army Corps project.  We would 

22          be -- we're involved with some of the upland 

23          sources of contamination around Flushing Bay, 

24          some of the stormwater issues over the years 


                                                                  87

 1          and some of the issues coming out of the 

 2          automobile chop shops.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  In Willets Point?  

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  Okay.  Second, 

 6          what is your department's responsibility 

 7          relative to municipal waste trucks?  We have 

 8          in that area a nesting of them, sometimes 

 9          overnight, sometimes for several days, full.  

10          And in the summertime, obviously creating 

11          great odors that add to the odor that comes 

12          out of Flushing Bay.  This was particularly 

13          embarrassing when the Mets were going to the 

14          World Series, and we invited the world there 

15          but the trucks were there first.

16                 So could you describe to me what your 

17          department does about that and whether or not 

18          you have sufficient personnel in the Queens 

19          region to handle those kind of problems?  

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Well, 

21          typically truck parking and solid waste, for 

22          that matter, is typically a local issue.  You 

23          raised this with us in the past, and we in 

24          fact sent out our RECOs to conduct an 


                                                                  88

 1          investigation of the problems you'd raised 

 2          with us.  In Queens and Jamaica, for example, 

 3          recently we did an Operation ECO Quality.  

 4          We've done these around the state for many 

 5          years.  We did one here in Albany, where we 

 6          have our Environmental Conservation Officers 

 7          actually doing truck pullovers to check with 

 8          compliance for all kinds of air emission 

 9          regulations and concerns.

10                 Those have been very effective in the 

11          past, and they're designed in some ways to 

12          promote compliance but also to find bad 

13          actors.  And we'd be happy to talk with you 

14          about other parts of Queens and Flushing, for 

15          that matter, where you see persistent 

16          problems, because we've been able to address 

17          those in the past.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  My understanding 

19          is that we have limited resources for that 

20          kind of work, though, out of that particular 

21          office. 

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The way we run 

23          our truck inspections is usually not just 

24          with the resources in a single office.  We 


                                                                  89

 1          usually pool resources for operations.  So 

 2          we'll pull officers from the Albany area, 

 3          we'll pull them from Western New York to do 

 4          these operations over a sustained basis.  And 

 5          it's less of whether or not there's somebody 

 6          based in Queens; more so, how can we move 

 7          these teams in quickly and effectively to 

 8          solve comprehensive problems.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  Thank you.  

10                 And the last is, what is your MWBE 

11          program like relative to the money that you 

12          spend on capital projects?

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we are 

14          obviously one of the agencies complying with 

15          the MWBE requirements that the Governor set 

16          forth.  We are exceeding the MWBE guidelines 

17          when it comes to the investments in 

18          environmental justice that I detailed 

19          earlier.  We discussed some of the proposals 

20          in the Governor's budget this year, the 

21          millions of dollars he proposed to put into 

22          environmental justice to help communities of 

23          color around the state and disadvantaged 

24          communities.


                                                                  90

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  And it appears, at 

 2          least in the information that we've been 

 3          given, that you're now anticipating funding 

 4          job training and project implementation.  

 5          What's the relationship between a challenged 

 6          community of color environmentally and job 

 7          training relative to it?  And how many 

 8          projects have we in fact implemented as 

 9          opposed to just studied?

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, this year 

11          through the EPF we would like to dedicate at 

12          least a million dollars to do job training 

13          specifically for environmental jobs within --

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  How much money, 

15          I'm sorry?  

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  A million 

17          dollars, specifically for environmental job 

18          training in environmental justice areas, in 

19          addition to a suite of grants for capacity 

20          building at EJ groups.  And also up to 

21          $750,000 to do clean energy installations 

22          within environmental justice communities.  

23                 All of that would be -- we would like 

24          to see those programs be run in a coordinated 


                                                                  91

 1          manner so that communities that are 

 2          disadvantaged and need job training are then 

 3          perhaps doing the work that would then come 

 4          through a grant program to build, you know, 

 5          local sources of clean energy.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  And do you have a 

 7          list of what you consider to be environmental 

 8          justice communities around the state?  Is 

 9          that a formal designation?

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We do.  It's 

11          actually a regulatory designation dating back 

12          to I believe 1999, when it was first put into 

13          law.

14                 In addition to that, we have a 

15          commissioner's policy, it's called 

16          Commissioner's Policy 29, that I have just 

17          started the first set of dialogue with 

18          environmental justice communities down in 

19          New York City, and we're going to roll this 

20          out statewide in an effort to modernize our 

21          EJ policy, because frankly it's been on the 

22          shelf for a while and we need really good 

23          feedback from EJ groups and got it at our 

24          first meeting last week, or two weeks ago.


                                                                  92

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  Can we see the 

 2          list of those communities?  Would you send 

 3          that to us?

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Certainly.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY:  Thank you.

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 7                 Senator?  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 9          much.  

10                 Our next speaker is Senator Diane 

11          Savino.

12                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

13          Young.  

14                 Thank you, Commissioner.  The beauty 

15          of going this far in is I've gotten answers 

16          to most of the questions that I had on the 

17          list.  

18                 I do want to touch, though, on 

19          something I know other members are probably 

20          going to speak about, and it's an issue that 

21          is of particular importance especially to 

22          someone who represents my part of the city, 

23          Staten Island and South Brooklyn, because you 

24          know we are the entry point to the New York 


                                                                  93

 1          Harbor.  It is the issue of invasive species.  

 2                 One of your predecessors had put in 

 3          place a ballast water proposal that would 

 4          have essentially crippled the shipping 

 5          industry in New York State and as far as 

 6          upstate New York, and we were able to push 

 7          that back.  

 8                 But we do need a more comprehensive 

 9          solution to the problem of invasive species, 

10          whether it's, you know, coming in on ballast 

11          water.  I don't think that the proposal in 

12          the budget is sufficient.  And I know it's 

13          one of the things that Senator Kennedy wants 

14          to follow up on, so I'm going to let him 

15          question you more about that.  I want to be a 

16          little bit more parochial.

17                 We have our own invasive species 

18          problem on Staten Island, as your department 

19          is well aware of.  They are four-legged 

20          creatures and winged creatures.  You're 

21          laughing, because you know the problem that 

22          we have.  You know, your department has 

23          tried, but I'm not sure you're being that 

24          successful with the relocation of the 


                                                                  94

 1          turkeys.  

 2                 For those of you watching at home, 

 3          Staten Island has a tremendous wild turkey 

 4          problem.  And for some reason they have taken 

 5          up residence on the grounds of the South 

 6          Beach Psychiatric Facility and around the 

 7          area.  And while some of us think it's 

 8          quaint, they are a nuisance, they destroy 

 9          property, and they have become a real problem 

10          for the residents in the area around there.

11                 And every time we think that you guys 

12          have relocated them, suddenly a whole new 

13          batch is hatched and they're wandering the 

14          streets tying up traffic and destroying 

15          property.  

16                 And then we have the deer problem.  

17          These are not indigenous to Staten Island.  

18          They are -- we are now up to almost a 

19          thousand deer.  They are inhabiting the 

20          island.  They swam across to Brooklyn 

21          recently -- two of them literally swam over 

22          the Narrows, wound up in Brooklyn in a 

23          junkyard in Coney Island.  Your department 

24          went, picked them up, and brought them back 


                                                                  95

 1          to Staten Island.  Which -- they don't belong 

 2          to us.  In fact, if you're going to bring 

 3          them somewhere, bring them back to Jersey.  

 4          That's where they came from.  They are 

 5          New Jersey's deer.  

 6                 (Laughter.)

 7                 SENATOR SAVINO:  They really are.

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's part of our 

 9          tourism campaign.

10                 (Laughter.)

11                 SENATOR SAVINO:  But this is becoming 

12          a bigger problem.  As you know, recently 

13          there was a graveyard that was found on the 

14          south shore of Staten Island where a bunch of 

15          deer carcasses were unearthed, and it turned 

16          out that some of your staff had buried them 

17          inappropriately.  

18                 So what are we going to do about the 

19          deer and the turkeys?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I'll tell 

21          you this.  Obviously when you have a 

22          situation where the predator-prey 

23          relationship doesn't exist and you just have 

24          prey out there -- deer, turkeys, other 


                                                                  96

 1          animals -- and nature is out of balance, 

 2          there has to be some kind of active 

 3          management on behalf of the government.  And 

 4          that's certainly what we see in 

 5          Staten Island.  

 6                 Now, when it comes to turkeys, we have 

 7          tried in the past to do that, you're 

 8          absolutely right.  We can certainly do so 

 9          again, do our best to get on top of it.  

10                 The deer situation, yes, is a problem 

11          in Staten Island.  Obviously we don't have 

12          hunting down there, and that's usually what 

13          is effective elsewhere around the state.  

14          And, you know, again, we have been open to 

15          creative thinking on this.  The city, as you 

16          know, has this program to do --

17                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Yes, I know.

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  -- deer 

19          sterilization on a research pilot basis that 

20          we gave them a permit to do.  

21                 While we don't believe that those 

22          kinds of programs are effective, it's 

23          nonetheless worth our time to see if it has 

24          an impact.  We certainly take this very 


                                                                  97

 1          seriously.  I hear the stories on a regular 

 2          basis about impacts with cars.  A big issue.

 3                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Cars and property and 

 4          --

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Cars and 

 6          property.  And I will say that we need to be 

 7          open to many solutions on this, not just the 

 8          ones we've used so far.

 9                 SENATOR SAVINO:  In the brief time I 

10          have, what is the time frame for the 

11          evaluation of the city's proposal, which is 

12          deer vasectomies?  Because now we have -- you 

13          know, the female deer, it doesn't prevent 

14          them from going into heat, and that's 

15          creating other problems.  So you have the -- 

16          whatever.  It's just a mess.  

17                 But, I mean, when will we know whether 

18          or not this is a successful program?

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, it's 

20          underway now.  And it will continue for the 

21          next three to five years.  And I think we'll 

22          start to see results of that shortly, 

23          probably within Year 2 or 3.

24                 SENATOR SAVINO:  The expression on 


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 1          your face indicates you're somewhat skeptical 

 2          of the success of this program.

 3                 (Laughter.)

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I will say that 

 5          it's perhaps not the best-designed program.  

 6          But it is a program nonetheless that we 

 7          should see what the results come back with.

 8                 SENATOR SAVINO:  So we just have angry 

 9          and unsatisfied deer.  Very unhappy.

10                 (Laughter.)

11                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, 

12          Commissioner.

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 

14          Senator.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

16                 Assemblyman Otis.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Commissioner, thank 

18          you.  Mr. Chairman, thank you.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Assemblyman.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  I want to talk 

21          about the water parts of the budget proposal.  

22          And, you know, as a matter of reflection for 

23          everybody, EPF was 177 two years ago; it's 

24          now 300, 300 again this year.  And the 


                                                                  99

 1          commitment of --

 2                 UNIDENTIFIED VOICES:  Your mic is off.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  You turned it off.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You turned it off.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  These mics are 

 6          finicky.

 7                 So we have $400 million for the next 

 8          five years proposed by the Governor, 

 9          including we still have $175 million from our 

10          existing water funding.  So actually for the 

11          upcoming year we're going to have 575 for the 

12          '17-'18 year for the different water 

13          programs.  

14                 I want to ask the question a different 

15          way.  In terms of the new uses that are 

16          proposed -- and they're all good and 

17          worthy -- has DEC looked at trying to 

18          estimate, anticipating what some of these new 

19          programs are going to bring in in terms of 

20          applications?

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I will 

22          tell you, through the existing Water 

23          Infrastructure Improvement Act that we've had 

24          going two years now, there are far many more 


                                                                  100

 1          applications coming in for more dollars than 

 2          are available.  And the scoring is such that 

 3          we're able to move money out very quickly, 

 4          but we leave some folks, some of the munis, 

 5          without funding.

 6                 So what this funding would do is 

 7          obviously broaden the pot, make it much 

 8          bigger and make it -- we're not changing the 

 9          eligibility of the grant program, so that the 

10          same grant criteria will be applied moving 

11          forward.  That will broaden the number of 

12          communities that will be able to get into the 

13          program.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  I'm actually asking 

15          about the new uses in the -- like the salt 

16          stores and the lead pipes and all that sort 

17          of stuff that are new -- in the new $400 

18          million a year program.  

19                 But you're getting to sort of where I 

20          was going, is that we could use a good growth 

21          just for the water infrastructure, pipes and 

22          stuff that we've been doing for the last two 

23          years.  My compliments to the addition of the 

24          intermunicipal regional approach, because 


                                                                  101

 1          there's a need for recognizing those.  Right 

 2          now an intermunicipal application almost gets 

 3          penalized for working with another community 

 4          because they still have the single 

 5          application cap.  

 6                 So those are all great, but if we have 

 7          575 as the total for '17-'18, how much do you 

 8          anticipate we can keep with these water 

 9          infrastructure projects, as opposed to the 

10          new uses which you're -- some of those 

11          getting off the ground new in the current 

12          year, or the new year?

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I think  

14          it's -- we will have about half of the Clean 

15          Water Infrastructure Act appropriation go 

16          towards the traditional programs that we've 

17          been talking about, so wastewater and water 

18          infrastructure.  Those programs in some 

19          respects are constrained by the loan program 

20          that we have available.  So I just talked in 

21          my testimony very briefly about how EFC puts 

22          out about a billion dollars a year in loans, 

23          low-interest loans and no-interest loans.  

24                 What these grants have been doing in 


                                                                  102

 1          the past -- we used to have a significant 

 2          delta between the amounts of loans available 

 3          and the amounts actually taken up.  Since we 

 4          did the grant program, now the loan program 

 5          is almost fully subscribed.  Which is a great 

 6          thing.  We finally are now moving out not 

 7          only grants but loans across the state, and 

 8          that gets to my point about the enlarging of 

 9          the entire pot.

10                 But it gets to the point where the 

11          grants have now maxed out the loans, and now 

12          we have some additional grant monies 

13          available for other programs.  So if we look 

14          at the full, you know, new $400 million, 

15          about half of that again will go back into 

16          the EFC, the traditional WIIA grants/loans 

17          program, and the other half will go into the 

18          other issues that we've raised -- lead 

19          service lines, expanding some of the 

20          Superfund, doing source-water protection 

21          grants for municipalities.

22                 So it's about fifty-fifty on that, old 

23          programs and new.  And as I mentioned, we 

24          will be working with you all to hone the 


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 1          specifics of each of those lines so that you 

 2          have a better sense of what you're seeing.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  That would be 

 4          great.  One suggestion I would have -- and 

 5          you allude to sort of the incentive that was 

 6          created in the water grant program.  In these 

 7          new areas, the idea of having a percentage 

 8          that the grant can provide and having the 

 9          applicant put in the rest, we can hopefully 

10          also incentivize projects that wouldn't 

11          happen otherwise in these new areas as well.

12                 It's worked quite well.  DEC, you and 

13          EFC have done a great job on the rollout of 

14          the program, and glad to see this great, very 

15          significant increase in commitment.  So thank 

16          you.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Great.  Thank 

18          you.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

20                 We've been joined by Senator Elaine 

21          Phillips.  

22                 And our next speaker is Senator Pam 

23          Helming.

24                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you, 


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 1          Commissioner, for your time and for your 

 2          efforts to protect the public health.

 3                 I represent a district that includes 

 4          quite a significant portion of the 

 5          Finger Lakes area.  And I recently read a 

 6          report that seven of the Finger Lakes are 

 7          impacted by blue-green algae.  Out of these 

 8          seven lakes, several of the lakes have 

 9          harmful algal blooms, which have resulted in 

10          threats to public health, the closure of 

11          beaches, impacts to tourism dollars, 

12          et cetera.  

13                 So -- and I know in your report you 

14          mentioned funding for invasive species, but 

15          what I'd like to hear more about, what 

16          specific programs and funding is going to be 

17          available to address the blue-green algae 

18          issue, specifically the harmful algal blooms 

19          in the Finger Lakes?  

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Well, 

21          first of all, I think the $2 billion water 

22          infrastructure money that we've been 

23          discussing is going to help address one of 

24          the causes for some of these algal blooms, 


                                                                  105

 1          which is obviously failing infrastructure.  

 2          And you see nitrogen getting into the water, 

 3          creating the blooms, and the blooms then 

 4          causing problems.  

 5                 So we need to do everything we can to 

 6          enable municipalities to upgrade their 

 7          systems.  That will be certainly number one.

 8                 In terms of the other uses for that 

 9          money, obviously there are many farms around 

10          the state.  We've been putting money into 

11          upgrading manure storage statewide.  As the 

12          boom in milk is happening, and it's a good 

13          thing for our farmers, we want to make sure 

14          that they also have the resources to invest 

15          in buffers between their properties and 

16          streams, and that the manure lagoons are up 

17          to spec.  

18                 So both through the EPF and through 

19          the water infrastructure money, we will be 

20          continuing that.  And we've made that a 

21          specific component of the water 

22          infrastructure money that we proposed as part 

23          of the $2 billion.

24                 Grants for setting land aside, source 


                                                                  106

 1          water protection is the best money spent, 

 2          typically.  If you can protect water at the 

 3          source, then you don't have problems 

 4          downstream.  And the $2 billion will help 

 5          with that.  Again, monies through 

 6          municipalities, and in some cases nonprofits, 

 7          to fix those problems.  

 8                 And then to get to the very serious 

 9          issue of harmful algal blooms on Owasco Lake, 

10          where you saw the city of Auburn and Owasco 

11          drawing water that was impacted by this 

12          bloom, the Governor put into the budget 

13          $150,000 right now to be available for 

14          engineering studies at both those 

15          municipalities, to ensure that their plants 

16          can be upgraded, and then up to $2 million 

17          for the upgrade of the plant, to have new 

18          technology to take the otherwise -- the 

19          toxins from the harmful algal blooms aren't 

20          taken out through the usual means, so we need 

21          new technology there.  And the $2 million 

22          will help to provide those funds.

23                 SENATOR HELMING:  So what about the 

24          water treatment plants at all of the 


                                                                  107

 1          facilities along the lakes?  Are we going to 

 2          take what we learned from Owasco and somehow 

 3          share that with the other communities?  Is 

 4          the DEC involved with --

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely.

 6                 SENATOR HELMING:  -- inspecting and 

 7          upgrading the other facilities to make sure 

 8          that they have what they need?  How does that 

 9          work?  

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely.  I 

11          mean, we are -- we're not approaching Owasco 

12          as a one-off.  What we're trying to do is 

13          understand how Owasco happened, how the water 

14          was impacted that way, and begin applying 

15          that not just in the Finger Lakes, but 

16          elsewhere.  

17                 But as far as the Finger Lakes are 

18          concerned, there was a need for us to think 

19          more creatively about how we staff these 

20          problems.  So we've got -- the Finger Lakes 

21          are actually between several different DEC 

22          regions.  Usually our regional staff are the 

23          ones handling these problems directly.  But 

24          when you have multiple regions, you need 


                                                                  108

 1          coordination.  So this year we actually 

 2          created, 2016, a water hub so staff from both 

 3          offices then -- focusing specifically on 

 4          water problems.  And actually the team in 

 5          charge of the Owasco response is actually the 

 6          water hub that is shared between local 

 7          offices as well as my headquarters staff.

 8                 So we will be applying that to other 

 9          Finger Lakes as well.

10                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you very much, 

11          because that was -- my second comment was on 

12          DEC staffing.  I noticed in the report that 

13          overall the staffing numbers won't change.  

14          But as was said previously, I'd truly like to 

15          see a shift so that there's additional 

16          staffing at the regional levels to help us 

17          with issues.

18                 And just quickly to echo on Senator 

19          O'Mara's comments, my district also includes 

20          a significant portion of Lake Ontario.  And 

21          again, I'd just say to you it's critically 

22          important to provide the necessary resources 

23          to protect not only the municipal 

24          infrastructure but also the private property, 


                                                                  109

 1          especially in communities such as Sodus 

 2          Point, where the threat of flooding has been 

 3          documented and is a real threat.  

 4                 So I thank you.

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 8                 Assemblyman Ryan.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN RYAN:  Thank you, 

10          Chairman.  Thank you, Commissioner.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Assemblyman.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN RYAN:  We spoke briefly 

13          last week.  I gave good credit to your 

14          department for your response to the former 

15          steel plant fire at Lackawanna.  It was a 

16          major fire.  They could actually see the 

17          smoke plume in aerial and satellite 

18          photographs as it was proceeding out to the 

19          ocean.  

20                 So your agency did a great job of 

21          interacting with the community and really 

22          taking a community on high anxiety and 

23          bringing it really down to a rational level.  

24          So thanks for that work.


                                                                  110

 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN RYAN:  But on that same 

 3          subject which Senator Kennedy spoke of, we're 

 4          very interested in seeing the plans for the 

 5          restoration of that steel plant site.  We 

 6          know there's a large chunk of money dedicated 

 7          towards that.  We'd like to work with you as 

 8          you're rolling that out and hopefully make it 

 9          as soon as possible.

10                 And then with the EPF money and the 

11          new money we have coming in, one of my 

12          concerns has been for streams and waterways 

13          that pass through several municipalities, 

14          much like the Scajaquada Creek.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN RYAN:  So we were able to 

17          come with a real combined effort on the 

18          Buffalo River cleanup with a nonprofit sort 

19          of in the conductor chair.  It seems one of 

20          the things delaying the Scajaquada cleanup is 

21          that the stream runs through several 

22          municipalities, several municipalities dump 

23          their waste in it.  But there doesn't seem to 

24          be a good coordinated effort.  


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 1                 And I think if we're able to provide 

 2          funding to nonprofits like Riverkeeper, yet 

 3          to help coordinate those efforts, we'd be 

 4          much farther along now.  

 5                 So I wanted to hear your thoughts on 

 6          perhaps how could we empower nonprofits to do 

 7          more work in coordination, especially with 

 8          the smaller towns and villages who don't have 

 9          big staffs and would have to dedicate, you 

10          know, resources of their own to hire 

11          environmental engineering companies.  But if 

12          we were able to have the nonprofits play that 

13          role, I think we would push projects along 

14          quicker.  And I wanted to hear what you had 

15          to say about that.

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

17          certainly am very respectful of the 

18          nonprofits' mission generally.  That's where 

19          I started my career, and I know the 

20          effectiveness they can have in bringing 

21          coordinated voices to problems.

22                 I mean, Scajaquada Creek is a perfect 

23          example.  You're right, obviously it flows 

24          through many municipalities.  And there's all 


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 1          kinds of historic problems along the way, 

 2          Cheektowaga and other places with their CSO 

 3          discharges and SSO discharges.  

 4                 So I will say this.  I mean, I am 

 5          committed to making sure that Scajaquada and 

 6          other places around the state are handled 

 7          with that sort of team mentality, where you 

 8          have nonprofit buy-in, you've got local 

 9          government buy-in, you've got a role for the 

10          state.  Then you've got sometimes a role for 

11          the federal government as well, as we saw 

12          downstream in the Niagara River.

13                 The grants that we're proposing out of 

14          the Clean Water Infrastructure Act for 

15          source-water protection I think will help to 

16          get at some of that.  And we, you know, have 

17          lots of history in funding nonprofits through 

18          other pots of money and working 

19          collaboratively with them.  

20                 And I've seen the tenor on Scajaquada 

21          change a little bit in my year.  I think 

22          you're absolutely right, maybe it started 

23          with not enough coordination through our 

24          regional office.  And I've spent quite a bit 


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 1          of time on that issue.  We're starting to see 

 2          a little bit better coordination now between 

 3          the towns.  Buffalo Sewer Authority has 

 4          bought into it.  You've got, you know, all 

 5          the various contributors to the problem down 

 6          there sort of see a light at the end of the 

 7          tunnel, which is good.  And I've been working 

 8          very hard to ensure that happens.  

 9                 But to your point, nonprofits play a 

10          role.  And we will ensure that they have a 

11          voice whether they get funding or not.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN RYAN:  That's great.  I 

13          appreciate you keeping an open mind to that.  

14          And often the issue really is the advocacy, 

15          right, helping to shine the light on the 

16          issues but also to bring the municipalities 

17          along, to educate them on what they can do.  

18          I know you're sensitive to this issue.  You 

19          know, it becomes a real focal point in my 

20          community as the upstream municipalities dump 

21          their sewage waste into the stream that comes 

22          out at historic Olmsted Park in the middle of 

23          the City of Buffalo, which happens to be two 

24          blocks down from my house, too.  So I'm quite 


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 1          interested in using that park as a parkland 

 2          and less as a cesspool.  

 3                 So appreciate your help on that, and 

 4          we continue to look forward to working with 

 5          you.

 6                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Likewise, thank 

 7          you.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 9                 We've been joined by Senator Robert 

10          Ortt.  

11                 And it's now the Assembly's turn -- 

12          or, I'm sorry, it's the Senate's turn.  So 

13          our next speaker is Senator Liz Krueger.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good morning, 

15          Commissioner.

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Morning, 

17          Senator.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So we had a chance 

19          to talk in advance, and you mentioned it 

20          already today in your testimony about your 

21          goal to decreasing food waste ending up in 

22          solid waste, which actually is a methane 

23          problem.  

24                 I asked a question of the OTDA deputy 


                                                                  115

 1          commissioner the other day, and he said, 

 2          "Well, it's a DEC question," so I'm going to 

 3          give it to you.  He was discussing the 

 4          state's efforts to expand participation in 

 5          the federally funded SNAP program and that 

 6          they would be doing more models.  And I 

 7          suggested that you do SNAP applications with 

 8          hunting and fishing licenses.  Many people 

 9          hunt for food.  And not all people who hunt 

10          for food are low-income and need additional 

11          money for food, but I bet a bunch of them 

12          are.  

13                 So I'm going to encourage you to 

14          explore with OTDA the possibility of doing 

15          some outreach to the SNAP program through 

16          your applications for hunting and fishing 

17          licenses.

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.  That's 

19          innovative.  I've not heard that one before.  

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.  No, I think I 

21          might be the first one to come up with it.  

22          But anyone else can say no, no, it was my 

23          idea.  That's fine.

24                 Second, there's references to EPF 


                                                                  116

 1          funding -- you know, we've been expanding the 

 2          definition of what we use EPF funding for, 

 3          and some of it apparently is for projects 

 4          that are involving private landowners.  And 

 5          how do -- do you just think that there's some 

 6          questions that should be asked when we start 

 7          to use EPF with private land purposes?  Or 

 8          was I advised wrong and there aren't any?

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I'm not -- I'm 

10          not sure what you're referring to.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So is there any EPF 

12          money being used for either stewardship 

13          programs or private activities involving the 

14          parks --

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  On private land?

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yeah.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yeah, I mean I 

18          think it would only come into play if we had 

19          a conservation easement, for example, on a 

20          large tract of forestland.  Which we do, 

21          around the state, but we typically don't 

22          spend EPF dollars beyond conservation 

23          easements.

24                 ASST. COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  And those 


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 1          lands would be publicly accessible.

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So basically you 

 4          might be doing some kind of project that 

 5          people are going from parkland to private 

 6          land, because it was part of a larger 

 7          project?

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  Yeah, 

 9          you have a large tract of forest that might 

10          be adjacent to the Forest Preserve.  One 

11          part's purchased and owned by the state, 

12          forever wild; the other portion is 

13          conservation easement of timberlands.  You 

14          know, timberlands, they're able to use it for 

15          sustainable harvesting.  But you couldn't 

16          tell the difference between the two unless 

17          you were an expert.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  But there are no 

19          other plan -- there's no other plans --

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Not to my 

21          knowledge, no.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- to use EPF money 

23          for private land?  Thank you.

24                 Several of my colleagues have asked 


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 1          around the questions about with water 

 2          contamination --

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, I mean, 

 4          there are grants that go out through WQIP and 

 5          ag nonpoint source to farmers to control 

 6          sewage runoff.  That would be one other 

 7          example -- I'm sorry to interrupt you -- but 

 8          one other example where we'd use EPF dollars 

 9          to control an on-site pollution problem.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And so that passes 

11          from EPF into Ag and Markets -- 

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- and then gets 

14          distributed throughout?  All right, so I can 

15          ask the Ag and Markets --

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  And through the 

17          Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay, thank you.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Sorry.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  That's okay.  

21                 Water contamination issues.  We look 

22          at Hoosick Falls and Newburgh as one set of 

23          serious examples.  My colleague from 

24          Long Island was talking about Long Island 


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 1          water.

 2                 You've gone ahead and asked companies 

 3          to evaluate for themselves the water 

 4          contamination; I think it was 40 companies.  

 5          Have those reports been submitted, and can 

 6          you share those at some point?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.  So you're 

 8          referring to the PFOA/PFOS that may have been 

 9          used statewide.  Yes.  I mean, we had 

10          identified a number of companies around the 

11          state that may have used those chemicals in 

12          the past, and then compared the results that 

13          we got through our outreach to the presence 

14          of drinking water supplies.

15                 So we didn't just rely on their 

16          responses to us, but in fact have gone -- and 

17          are still going out proactively to identify 

18          company and well.  And if there are 

19          situations that demand any kind of cleanup, 

20          DEC, in coordination with DOH, are putting in 

21          place an aggressive system there.  

22                 We can certainly share with you the 38 

23          that we identified, all of the levels well 

24          below the federal guideline.  Nonetheless, 


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 1          the presence of those chemicals detected.  

 2          We're starting to working on investigations 

 3          of those potential sources.  

 4                 I think there will be a privacy 

 5          concern that we'd have to work around and 

 6          address, because some of the wells we took 

 7          samples from were within private control.  

 8          But we can certainly work with your office 

 9          and the Legislature on that.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And I see how 

11          quickly my time is up.  But I guess never 

12          waste a crisis.  So Newburgh and the other 

13          towns showed us some of the seriousness of 

14          problems that can be popping up in small 

15          towns without, perhaps, any way to know about 

16          it or handle it themselves.

17                 Is there a new protocol that your 

18          department will be coming up with to help any 

19          other communities, not just necessarily with 

20          those specific chemicals, but with any kind 

21          of chemical contamination in their water 

22          system, to help us be better prepared to 

23          proactively, all right, here's what you need 

24          to study, here's what the agency is going to 


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 1          do, here's what the community needs to do, 

 2          this is how we're going to hold the companies 

 3          accountable for the cost of cleanup and 

 4          public education.  

 5                 Is there perhaps some kind of written 

 6          protocol that you can offer us in the future 

 7          so that if and when the next crisis comes, 

 8          we're better prepared from the experience 

 9          of -- 

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Well, I'd 

11          be happy to share with you just a general 

12          protocol of how we'd approach these things.  

13                 I think we have now had the experience 

14          over the last few months of responding to 

15          similar situations with different variables 

16          here and there, but ultimately finding ways 

17          to move very quickly and free up funding to 

18          fix problems.  And that's something we've 

19          sort of perfected across the board.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I mean, sharing it 

21          with us would be great, but I --

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- guess I would 

24          argue sharing it with every municipality --


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 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely.  No, 

 2          you're right.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- and county in the 

 4          state would be actually be really valuable.

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I meant us 

 6          meaning --

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yes, us.

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  -- everyone.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I agree.

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

14                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

15                 Assemblyman Carroll.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you, 

17          Chairman.  

18                 Thank you, Commissioner, for being 

19          here today.  My first question is about, as 

20          you are probably aware, decentralizing our 

21          power grid by incentivizing businesses and 

22          homeowners to generate their own power 

23          through solar and geothermal power that will 

24          create a more resilient, green and 


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 1          energy-efficient power grid.

 2                 What is the state doing to foster this 

 3          sort of growth in our energy grid?

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Well, 

 5          respectfully, I'd ask that you raise that 

 6          with NYSERDA.  That's not really in DEC's 

 7          jurisdiction.  I mean, I can speak as a 

 8          layperson to it, but I think you'll get a 

 9          better answer out of John Rhodes, who will be 

10          testifying later.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Fair enough.

12                 I think most of my questions you're 

13          going to say that, but I'm going to say them 

14          anyway.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  There are 16 

17          power generating plants in New York City that 

18          are commonly referred to as peakers.  These 

19          power plants are used only a few days a year 

20          and produce large amounts of carbon emissions 

21          as well as higher energy costs.  How can the 

22          state mitigate this use of power plants in 

23          New York City?

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So we -- I agree 


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 1          that these plants can be a concern if they're 

 2          being operated.  We put out regulations 

 3          called the Part 222 regulations this year, 

 4          which are designed to ratchet back on 

 5          emissions from these plants.  Those 

 6          regulations have been crafted with both input 

 7          from the regulated community and in 

 8          particular the environmental justice 

 9          community.

10                 So those plants are not only going to 

11          have to comply with the applicable federal 

12          law but also our state regulations in terms 

13          of discharges or air emissions.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you.  

15                 The Indian Point nuclear power plant 

16          produces 25 percent of the energy for 

17          New York City and Westchester County.  That 

18          energy is produced with no carbon footprint.  

19          How does the state plan to ensure that when 

20          that plant goes offline in 2021 that the 

21          energy that it's producing right now will be 

22          replaced with renewable energy sources?  

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, again, I'd 

24          ask you to raise that with DPS and NYSERDA 


                                                                  125

 1          later on today.  DEC has been thoroughly 

 2          involved in the Indian Point situation for 

 3          many, many years, but primarily on the idea 

 4          of water intakes and discharges and fish 

 5          mortality as well as on-site pollution.  So 

 6          we just aren't -- we don't have the 

 7          jurisdiction to deal with larger questions 

 8          about energy and reliability and the grid.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you.  

10          That's the end of my questioning.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

13                 Senator John Bonacic.

14                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Good morning, 

15          Commissioner.

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning, 

17          Senator.

18                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Good to see you 

19          again.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Likewise.

21                 SENATOR BONACIC:  My questions are 

22          relatively easy, which is unusual when I come 

23          here for a commissioner.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It is.


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 1                 SENATOR BONACIC:  First of all, the 

 2          struggle I always see going on is balancing 

 3          economic development projects and dealing 

 4          with the DEC bureaucracy and how fast they 

 5          can move the timeline to closure on 

 6          decisions.  That's always there.  

 7                 The second thing I've been observing 

 8          in the last few years is that the DEC always 

 9          wants -- is trying to be lead agency whenever 

10          they can.  And I would like to see more of 

11          the locals, the local counties or the local 

12          municipalities that are close to the 

13          projects, having more lead agency than the 

14          DEC.

15                 Now, Senator Amedore, Senator Seward, 

16          and I have the New York City Watershed in our 

17          district.  Dealing with the DEP bureaucracy 

18          is insane.  And the DEC is better --

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

20                 SENATOR BONACIC:  -- but not all that 

21          much better, just so you know.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, I 

23          think.

24                 (Laughter.)


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 1                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Yeah.  So getting 

 2          now to my question.  In the line items that 

 3          I'm looking at in the Executive Budget -- and 

 4          I don't expect you to pick this out.  But on 

 5          page 133, lines 10 to 12, it says "No state 

 6          assistance may be provided pursuant to this 

 7          section to fund any project committed to in 

 8          any agreement pursuant to a filtration 

 9          avoidance determination."

10                 So I read this to say that you don't 

11          want to have state funding replace New York 

12          City funding for projects in the New York 

13          City Watershed.  I agree with that position.  

14          That's a good position.

15                 But what happens sometimes is that -- 

16          some of the source water is used by 

17          municipalities, and some of it is part of the 

18          reservoir to supply the city water supply.  

19          So when you have that duplication, does that 

20          language mean that there will be no state 

21          funding to that municipality that's dealing 

22          with that source water for their 

23          municipality?

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't believe 


                                                                  128

 1          so.

 2                 ASST. COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  No, it's 

 3          only intended to not allow -- so New York 

 4          City itself is required to acquire its lands 

 5          --

 6                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Could you speak a 

 7          little louder?  Thanks.

 8                 ASST. COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  The intent 

 9          is that if New York City is required itself 

10          to acquire lands under the filtration 

11          avoidance determination, that they would not 

12          be eligible.  But if a town in that community 

13          that happens to also be the New York City 

14          watershed wants to apply for a grant, that 

15          does not mean that they would not be 

16          eligible.

17                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Okay.  And then I 

18          have one pet peeve.  It may sound funny, but 

19          it's not.  It pertains to my largest town in 

20          my Senate district in Orange County, the 

21          Village of Florida.  It's Glenmere Lake.  

22          That's a water supply for all the residents 

23          there.  And you put this cricket frog on your 

24          endangered species list.  


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 1                 Now, federally, this is not on the 

 2          endangered species list.  And so you know -- 

 3          I've learned more about this cricket frog 

 4          than I ever wanted to know.  But the cricket 

 5          frog is proliferating in population as you go 

 6          down the Eastern Seaboard, and now it's 

 7          starting to go west.  Why?  Because the 

 8          weather is warmer.  It's more conducive.  

 9                 Now, the people in the Village of 

10          Florida -- you have a eutrophication process 

11          that's happening in that Glenmere Lake.  So 

12          they want to address it, but they can't, 

13          because this cricket frog hangs out there.  

14          So why is that on the endangered species list 

15          when they're expanding in population -- and 

16          doing very well -- throughout the United 

17          States?  Why do we take that extra 

18          over-the-top step to make this cricket frog 

19          endangered when, across most of the United 

20          States, it is doing very well?  

21                 You don't have to answer that question 

22          today.  I'm sure there are more deeper 

23          questions that want to be addressed.  But if 

24          someone could get back to me, it's very 


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 1          important to the people of the Town of 

 2          Warwick, my largest town in my entire Senate 

 3          district.  

 4                 Thank you, Commissioner.  

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I will 

 6          certainly have a team get back to you on that 

 7          with an answer.

 8                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Thank you so much.

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

11                 Chairman Farrell.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

13                 Assemblyman Thiele.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  I'd like to 

15          follow up on the cricket frog, if I could.  

16                 (Laughter.)

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Just kidding.  

18                 I want to talk about water quality and 

19          the $2 billion that you have proposed.  

20                 And as was said earlier, there are 

21          legislative proposals for $5 billion for 

22          water.  It's been described earlier that the 

23          demand for water quality infrastructure, 

24          whether it be supply or disposal, is in the 


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 1          neighborhood of $80 billion.  So, you know, I 

 2          hope that we can look at larger numbers 

 3          during the budget process.  But it's pretty 

 4          obvious we're going to need partners.  

 5                 And I'd like to think maybe the 

 6          federal government might be a partner, I'd 

 7          like to think the new administration will be 

 8          into water quality infrastructure big league, 

 9          but I doubt it.  So our partners are going to 

10          be local government.  

11                 And, you know, whether it's been the 

12          water infrastructure program that we now have 

13          or prior bond acts, there's always the need 

14          for a local share.  And if we are looking at 

15          the kind of numbers over the next many years 

16          that we're looking at, my concern is going to 

17          be the ability of local governments to be 

18          partners, particularly in light of, you know, 

19          the property tax cap and the other 

20          limitations on local government.  

21                 And certainly on Long Island there's 

22          been discussions about the maybe non-property 

23          tax revenue sources to be devoted to water 

24          quality.  Of course, they would need state 


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 1          authorization.  Do you have any feelings 

 2          about that as far as, you know, developing a 

 3          full set of partners in addition to just 

 4          putting out our own bond act?

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I would 

 6          completely agree with you, we need as many 

 7          partners as possible to fix this problem.  

 8          Certainly on the federal side, doing what we 

 9          can to lobby for more money and make it 

10          easier for states to loan and grant money 

11          out.  

12                 As far as the local spending is 

13          concerned, I have heard that recently, 

14          certainly since we've proposed the 

15          $2 billion.  On tax cap issues, we'll raise 

16          that internally on my end.  We certainly 

17          don't want barriers to investment.  We want 

18          to make it as easy as possible for them to do 

19          this work and are open to creative solutions, 

20          if we can find ways to make that happen.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  The second thing 

22          with the $2 billion, and that is a lot of 

23          focus on water mains and sewage treatment 

24          plants and pipes and things of that nature.  


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 1          Out on the east end of Long Island, one of 

 2          the issues that we're dealing with, 

 3          obviously, is nitrogen.  But, you know, most 

 4          of -- it's mostly septic systems, old septic 

 5          systems, cesspools.  

 6                 And my question is, you know, we've 

 7          created a Center for Water Quality Technology 

 8          at Stony Brook, we're looking for new 

 9          solutions.  And will there be a part of this 

10          $2 billion that might be available to provide 

11          incentives for local governments to get 

12          homeowners to upgrade their cesspool or 

13          septic system with this new technology?

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So I think the 

15          answer to that is out of the $2 billion, 

16          there are - there will be aspects of that 

17          that I think will begin to get to the 

18          concerns you're raising.

19                 Certainly when it comes to the green 

20          infrastructure, using nontraditional means of 

21          disposing of stormwater, those types of 

22          grants, we want to get those grants out in 

23          the communities.  

24                 In terms of our support for switching 


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 1          homeowners either to better treatment 

 2          technologies, on-site septic, or connecting 

 3          them to municipal sewage lines, that's 

 4          something we've been working very closely 

 5          with the county on.  Through the EPF, we've 

 6          been funding every year giving monies towards 

 7          Suffolk County to do some of the work that 

 8          they are doing on both septics and hookups.  

 9                 We're in the midst of about a 

10          $388 million project down in Suffolk County 

11          to sewer certain areas, and then -- and 

12          that's only the beginning.  I think with the 

13          county and some of the ideas that they're 

14          considering in terms of how to address septic 

15          more long-term, we'll be prepared certainly 

16          to fund them on the technical side, on the 

17          expertise that is coming out of the Center 

18          for Clean Water Technology, some of the 

19          grants that we're able to make through the 

20          EPF and Water Quality Improvement Projects 

21          and elsewhere.  

22                 And then through the $2 billion, you 

23          know, getting into funding local 

24          infrastructure, funding green infrastructure, 


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 1          funding other source-water protection, I 

 2          think we will be able to, in some cases, 

 3          either directly or indirectly, deal with some 

 4          of the serious nitrogen problems that we're 

 5          seeing down there.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Okay.  I'm out of 

 7          time, but I said this at the Environmental 

 8          Conservation Committee hearing the other day, 

 9          but it's a bigger room.  I just want to thank 

10          you for the extremely quick response that we 

11          got at Gabreski --

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  -- with regard to 

14          dealing with the concerns of the public and 

15          coming up with a plan to extend public water.

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  It was really a 

18          rapid response, and it was greatly 

19          appreciated.  Thank you.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, thank you 

21          for your help on that too.  Appreciate it.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Thank you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

24                 Senator Elaine Phillips.


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 1                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  Good morning.

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator.

 3                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  Thank you for being 

 4          here.  And just so you know, I represent the 

 5          7th Senate District, which is on the North 

 6          Shore, on the western part of the Long 

 7          Island, mid-island, to the North Shore.

 8                 And also, Commissioner, so you know, I 

 9          have written you a letter, you would have 

10          received it last week, in addition to 

11          Commissioner Zucker.  So this is in writing 

12          what I'm about to say.  But last summer, as 

13          you know, the USEPA released the results of 

14          the third unregulated contaminant monitoring 

15          rule, which found detectable levels of 

16          1,4-dioxane, a chemical that the agency has 

17          determined is likely to cause cancer in 

18          humans.  And they found it in 70 percent of 

19          the samples from drinking-water wells serving 

20          millions of Long Islanders.  And in fact, the 

21          EPA found that dioxane was more prevalent in 

22          Long Island's water systems than elsewhere in 

23          the state and, even more disturbing, 

24          identified wells in two districts, in 


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 1          communities that I represent, with levels of 

 2          the chemical that were higher than in most of 

 3          the country.  Let me repeat that:  higher 

 4          than most of the country.

 5                 So I have had discussions with 

 6          representatives of the water providers in my 

 7          district.  They have indicated to me their 

 8          strong desire for more direction from both 

 9          the state and federal government as to how 

10          that they should respond to these levels.  

11                 So I wrote to you.  I'm asking, please 

12          read my letters.  We also would like some -- 

13          I'd like to hear if we have any actions or 

14          steps that are in the process to address 

15          these levels; the status of remediation, 

16          where it stands.  My understanding is that 

17          there is some sort of prototype that's being 

18          designed right now out at Stony Brook.  When 

19          could we expect to see that?  And do we have 

20          funding for remediation, particularly on 

21          these two wells that are in my district that 

22          have exceptionally high levels.

23                 And then really to offer to you to 

24          work on legislation, if we need legislation 


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 1          in place, to address this issue of dioxane.

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I'll say 

 3          this.  Certainly -- we discussed this a 

 4          little bit earlier -- the presence of 

 5          1,4-dioxane on Long Island is certainly of 

 6          concern.  Luckily, most of -- I think almost 

 7          all of the wells except for one, which was 

 8          not a potable source of water, were well 

 9          below the existing federal advisory, which is 

10          I think 300 parts per billion.  One came back 

11          at 33 parts per billion.

12                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:   Thirty-three, the 

13          other one in my district came back at 12.

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  At 12, exactly 

15          right.  

16                 So as we discussed earlier, one of the 

17          problems with 1,4-dioxane is that it's very 

18          soluble, in that it is hard to take out of 

19          water.  So you're right, we have a treatment 

20          --

21                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:   Strippers don't 

22          work.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's not a good 

24          thing -- it's not something you want in 


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 1          water.

 2                 We have a program going with the 

 3          Suffolk County Department of Health and 

 4          Suffolk County Water Authority to develop the 

 5          new technology, advanced oxidation, and be 

 6          able to apply it at scale.  It's not a new 

 7          technology, but it's never been used at full 

 8          scale, like water district scale.

 9                 That's underway now.  We're going to 

10          start to get the results out of that process 

11          shortly, certainly in 2017.  And we're going 

12          to be sharing those results with the public.  

13                 We're not stopping there.  We've also 

14          given $5 million to the Center for Clean 

15          Water Technology at SUNY Stony Brook to 

16          develop other types of technologies to 

17          control 1,4-dioxane.  At DEC we are tracking 

18          down sources of contamination -- again, 

19          industrial solvent, used widely, some high 

20          levels, but also a ubiquitous product in 

21          commercial consumer products -- dry cleaning 

22          detergent, personal care products.  So we're 

23          seeing that there are many potential sources 

24          of contamination.  


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 1                 Over the weekend the Governor convened 

 2          DEC-DOH to go down to Long Island and listen 

 3          to a group of stakeholders, and wrote a 

 4          letter to the EPA asking them to set a 

 5          national standard or at least an advisory 

 6          level, a national enforcement advisory level, 

 7          on 1,4-dioxane.  Because right now you don't 

 8          have that, you have sort of a placeholder 

 9          number.  

10                 If the federal government doesn't do 

11          that, and I'm not sure that they will, 

12          certainly this day, the state will proceed 

13          with its own.  That would be informed -- we'd 

14          put a group together this year of scientists 

15          to help us establish what that would be.  

16          Now, this is sort of not DEC's 

17          responsibility, it's more on the DOH side, 

18          but we're certainly going to be at the table 

19          on that process.  

20                 But I take what you're saying very 

21          seriously.  I think the message to the public 

22          is that it's -- right now there are no 

23          exceedances in drinking water.  But the 

24          presence of it means that we need to 


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 1          aggressively study this.

 2                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  Thank you.

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 Assemblywoman Jenne.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you, 

 8          Mr. Chairman.  

 9                 I think it's one minute till 

10          afternoon, so good morning, Commissioner.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Swinging from 

13          Long Island up to the Thousand Islands region 

14          and the St. Lawrence River Valley.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  First I'll just 

17          point out that we have many tools and 

18          opportunities to control the deer, turkey, 

19          and frog population in my area, and we enjoy 

20          using those tools.  

21                 (Laughter.)

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And I have a 

23          better appreciation for your job as, you 

24          know, it's second nature to us to control 


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 1          those populations.

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  But I will say 

 4          we could use some other tools to control the 

 5          coyote population, which I hopefully can have 

 6          some discussions with you further about.

 7                 But I also want to start by, you know, 

 8          being excited about Plan 2014, which some of 

 9          my colleagues I think are concerned about, 

10          and I understand their concern.  But my 

11          region has suffered a tremendous amount of 

12          environmental damage because of the previous 

13          regulation regimen, particularly as it 

14          affects the St. Lawrence River Valley.  And 

15          so we're hoping that we'll see restoration of 

16          our habitat and better utilization of the 

17          natural resources, and particularly be able 

18          to have more economic activity as a result of 

19          better flows and the fact that our fisheries 

20          will be restored.  

21                 So that is a very important positive 

22          that comes out of Plan 2014, and I appreciate 

23          whatever your office did in conjunction with 

24          the Governor to get that through.


                                                                  143

 1                 I'm going to talk a little bit about 

 2          the Clean Water 2017 plan, which is somewhat 

 3          intriguing to me.  You've mentioned that 

 4          there will be funding available for municipal 

 5          storage barns for their salt.  Do you have 

 6          any idea if there will be a pot of money or a 

 7          bucket of money that then will be shared 

 8          between state and municipal storage 

 9          facilities at this point, or is that not 

10          hashed out?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  In terms of salt 

12          storage?

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Yes.

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.  I mean, we 

15          fully expect most of those monies to actually 

16          go to municipalities, for their storage.  And 

17          they've got that.  There will still be a 

18          statewide --   

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I've been 

20          hearing a lot about that over the last 

21          several years, so I appreciate your 

22          sensitivity to that issue.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yup.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I'm also 


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 1          wondering about what level of coordination 

 2          there will be between DOT and DEC.  A lot of 

 3          the pinch points that I have that affect 

 4          water quality often happen when we're trying 

 5          to get water under, you know, a road or 

 6          something like that.  I have some serious 

 7          issues in my district related to that.  And I 

 8          didn't know if this was plans in the works to 

 9          kind of make sure those silos don't exist in 

10          this pot of money, so that when DEC and DOT 

11          both see a problem, that it raises the stakes 

12          a little bit, I guess, in their score.

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would say 

14          this.  Certainly Commissioner Driscoll and I 

15          talk on a regular basis.  We have monthly 

16          meetings on all big issues, and we've talked 

17          extensively about the investments they're 

18          making in bridges and how once we're doing 

19          repairs and doing replacements, they're 

20          designing for more modern levels of 

21          stormwater flow.  So certainly, on that end, 

22          there's absolute coordination on that.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I also have a 

24          municipality involved in one in Redwood, 


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 1          which gets me to the Indian River chain of 

 2          lakes.  You know, first of all I have the 

 3          issue where several lakes drain in a culvert 

 4          that's owned by a town underneath the road 

 5          into the rest of the lakes, which is I think 

 6          needing some attention, which would require, 

 7          you know, probably a task force type of 

 8          approach to it.  And I have probably more 

 9          than just that example to talk about.  

10                 But we have blue-green algae blooms in 

11          the lakes as well as -- I think one of our 

12          colleagues from the Finger Lakes was talking 

13          about that issue as well.  And my colleague 

14          here, Mr. Thiele, was talking about septic 

15          systems that are feeding these lakes and 

16          creating these problems.  

17                 You know, I'm aware of residential 

18          advanced treatment systems.  And I know that 

19          earlier in your testimony you talked about, 

20          you know, combining two septic treatment 

21          systems into one, more on the larger 

22          municipal scale.  But I've got a lot of rock 

23          where I am, and we would be a prime location 

24          to really start to expand the use of 


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 1          residential advanced treatment systems.  

 2                 And I would hope that we would look at 

 3          areas of the state like mine -- and I guess 

 4          Mr. Thiele is wanting the same type of 

 5          treatment.  But I would hope that the 

 6          Thousand Islands region would be part of any 

 7          effort to bring those types of treatment 

 8          systems and have our homeowners upgrade.  

 9                 I'd also like to briefly talk about 

10          the fact that we've been acquiring a lot of 

11          state land, and yet the number of Forest 

12          Rangers has continued to stay at very low 

13          levels.  And as this Adventure NY is trying 

14          to bring more people into the state, that we 

15          need to ensure that their safety is taken 

16          care of by making sure we have officers there 

17          to help people when they get in trouble.  

18                 And I'd just also like to make a pitch 

19          that if we're trying to bring people into 

20          Adirondack region, certainly coming through 

21          the Thousand Islands region is a wonderful 

22          way to bring them in.  We want to encourage 

23          the Canadians to still come over and see us, 

24          not just to go to the White House for lunch, 


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 1          but to also come to the North Country, the 

 2          Thousand Islands and the Adirondack region to 

 3          enjoy themselves, and making sure that we are 

 4          taking into consideration the opportunities 

 5          for Canadians to come across the border -- 

 6          there are many crossings in the Thousand 

 7          Islands region -- into the Adirondacks, and 

 8          maybe make a loop.  

 9                 That would be greatly appreciated.  

10          And I know that that's not just your 

11          jurisdiction, but I'll be taking it up with 

12          some of your other colleagues as well.

13                 Thank you.

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.  Thank 

15          you.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

17                 Senator Rob Ortt.

18                 SENATOR ORTT:  Good morning, 

19          Commissioner.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning, 

21          Senator.

22                 SENATOR ORTT:  Recently the DEC made 

23          it --

24                 SEVERAL MEMBERS:  Mic.  Mic.


                                                                  148

 1                 SENATOR ORTT:  I can just speak really 

 2          loud to make sure --

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  No, let's get your 

 4          mic on.

 5                 (Discussion off the record.)

 6                 SENATOR ORTT:   How's this?  All 

 7          right.

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Much better.

 9                 SENATOR ORTT:  I will start over 

10          again.  Good morning, Commissioner.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good to see you, 

12          Senator.

13                 SENATOR ORTT:  Thanks for being here.  

14                 Recently the DEC made the 

15          determination to cut the salmon stock in 

16          Lake Ontario by 20 percent.  I'm sure you're 

17          aware of the millions of dollars that is 

18          generated by that industry, certainly in my 

19          district and across New York State.  We have 

20          folks who come from all over the country for 

21          the salmon run.

22                 And it was done to -- because of the 

23          alewives population.  But yet we've 

24          recognized the alarming survival rates of the 


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 1          alewives going back to 2013 and 2014.  So my 

 2          question is when you were making the -- when 

 3          the determination was made to reduce that 

 4          stock, was there any other thought given to 

 5          introducing other prey fish, you know, as 

 6          opposed to cutting the salmon stock?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  Well, it 

 8          was not an easy decision for the department 

 9          to make.  Obviously, to cut any stocking is 

10          always -- it rises to the commissioner level.  

11          So we talked extensively about whether that 

12          made sense.  

13                 My staff convinced me that the alewife 

14          population was -- it wasn't just my staff, 

15          frankly, it was multiple states looking at 

16          the same question, including Canada -- the 

17          alewife population was in danger of collapse.  

18          And if that -- it's a very important feeder 

19          fish -- goes away, then our long-term outlook 

20          for the fishery becomes in greater jeopardy.

21                 So the salmon have sort of a voracious 

22          appetite for alewife, which is why the 

23          decision was made on the salmon side to drop 

24          down 20 percent for one year.  On the upside, 


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 1          wild propagation of salmon is up 10 percent, 

 2          we expect, so the ultimate -- the actual drop 

 3          in salmon this year will be probably in the 

 4          range of 10 percent.  

 5                 So in terms of the economic impact, we 

 6          don't believe that it will be detectable at 

 7          the charter fishing level.  It's nonetheless 

 8          a very serious situation.  We've been in 

 9          constant contact.  Three big public meetings, 

10          and I've got staff who are talking nonstop up 

11          there about this.

12                 So we looked through all of the 

13          opportunities available to us and did 

14          everything we could to make this as low an 

15          impact as possible, but ultimately determined 

16          that the other alternatives, such as 

17          introducing other fish, wouldn't have been 

18          effective in the short term and would have 

19          further jeopardized us.

20                 SENATOR ORTT:  Is there any discussion 

21          to introduce additional fish, no other fish, 

22          that will help sustain the industry as far as 

23          the fishing industry?  Whether like, for 

24          instance, the old brown trout or something 


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 1          like that?

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I think 

 3          part of what we're going to see is that this 

 4          is going to be a very short-term issue, in 

 5          that the stocking we do for one year, the 

 6          impacts of which won't be detectable for 

 7          several years and ultimately will be much 

 8          lower -- sorry, the noticeable impact will be 

 9          much lower than one would expect because it's 

10          not 20 percent, it's really just a 10 percent 

11          figure, with the increased chances for 

12          natural propagation.  

13                 So we haven't discussed introducing 

14          other types of fish, but we're also not 

15          looking to significantly cut the stocking of 

16          other fish.  Trout that we do stock, we are 

17          pulling back some of that stocking, in part 

18          because the population is now at a healthy 

19          carrying level.

20                 SENATOR ORTT:  Okay.  I would ask, 

21          certainly -- you say this is a one-year 

22          reduction?

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

24                 SENATOR ORTT:  So I could certainly -- 


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 1          I'm expecting that you would then review 

 2          after this year --

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely.

 4                 SENATOR ORTT:  -- certainly keep me 

 5          abreast, but also just the entire 

 6          Legislature, because it is certainly a larger 

 7          issue than just an issue for Senator Rob 

 8          Ortt.  

 9                 And again, I know at your confirmation 

10          hearing, and I know you've spoken numerous 

11          times about the balance between the 

12          environmental side and the regulatory side, 

13          but also understanding that there's an 

14          economic and business side to almost all of 

15          your decisions.  And just respecting that 

16          balance, especially for communities who rely 

17          really heavily on the charter fishing 

18          industry and such.  And the state, of course.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

20                 SENATOR ORTT:  And then lastly, I 

21          noticed in your testimony you did talk 

22          about -- I know there was questions asked 

23          earlier about energy policy, and you kind of 

24          deferred those to the NYSERDA folks who are 


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 1          coming in.  But in your testimony you do talk 

 2          about reducing carbon emissions by 2030, 

 3          going down another 20 percent, I believe, and 

 4          then looking at a study to be 100 percent 

 5          dependent on renewable energy.  

 6                 I guess my question is, where did 

 7          those numbers come up?  You know, where does 

 8          the year come from, where does the percentage 

 9          come from?  And I've heard passing discussion 

10          or passing references to the economic 

11          impact -- you know, training programs, for 

12          instance, for people who are unemployed as a 

13          result of these restrictions or these new 

14          regulations -- but I haven't heard a lot of 

15          detail about the folks who might be, you 

16          know, unemployed who work at a coal plant or 

17          whatever, as a result of these new policies.

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I will ask 

19          you to raise the 40 by '30 and 80 by '50 

20          questions with NYSERDA, because they have 

21          primary jurisdiction over that.

22                 What we have on our side is the 

23          Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the RGGI 

24          program.  And we've made significant progress 


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 1          with the power sector over the last 10 years 

 2          or so, using RGGI in reducing carbon 

 3          emissions.

 4                 The effect of the program actually is 

 5          somewhat positively economically.  We're 

 6          actually seeing not only improvements in 

 7          ratepayer bills through the RGGI program, but 

 8          also significant state investments in state 

 9          clean technologies.  So upwards of a billion 

10          dollars of economic impact to the RGGI states 

11          from the RGGI program itself.

12                 So we certainly want to make the 

13          adjustment in RGGI in a very careful way so 

14          as not to upset any of the ratepayer issues, 

15          and certainly so as not to upset the 

16          viability of the power producers.

17                 And working with the other RGGI 

18          states, we meet with them on a regular basis 

19          to determine what levels are appropriate.  

20          It's something that this proposal is 

21          achievable, the 20 percent reduction over a 

22          10-year period.  It's somewhat in line with 

23          the direction that we're on right now.  And 

24          we believe, at least on the RGGI side, that 


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 1          it is going to help channel investments back 

 2          into New York State, but also ultimately not 

 3          have a measurable impact or have a positive 

 4          impact, in fact, on ratepayers.

 5                 So that's sort of our wheelhouse, if 

 6          you will, on emissions, is the RGGI program.  

 7          But we also have, also as part of that, we've 

 8          launched a Transportation Climate Initiative, 

 9          to understand the impacts of the 

10          transportation sector.  We're in the early 

11          stages of that.  Our methane action plan, as 

12          well, is looking at emissions of methane from 

13          the oil and gas sector, landfills and farms.  

14          And we're starting to get funds in fact 

15          directed towards places like farms, where you 

16          have farmers willing to put in place 

17          anaerobic digesters and take advantage of 

18          that energy usage to reduce their carbon 

19          footprint, but also to cut down some of their 

20          costs.  

21                 So the approach is sort of all in.  

22          It's multi-agency.  We believe it's an 

23          imperative right now, it's an existential 

24          imperative.  I firmly believe that climate 


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 1          change is real and we have to do what we can 

 2          to mitigate all impacts and prepare the 

 3          state.  And I think it will be good business 

 4          for the state in the long run.  

 5                 But I certainly hear you on the rate 

 6          side and certainly encourage you to raise 

 7          that with my colleagues, who have a firm 

 8          grasp on all of their programs.  

 9                 SENATOR ORTT:  And I know my time is 

10          up.  I just would further stress -- you know, 

11          I think one of the challenges is New York 

12          State does acts other states may not.  There 

13          is a very real immediate economic impact, 

14          while understanding the larger environmental 

15          goals.  And in a state that's 49th in almost 

16          every category when you talk about 

17          business-friendliness, you know, I think the 

18          DEC very often is an agency that you look to 

19          to try to balance the economic initiatives, 

20          the economic benefits and all these laudable 

21          goals with economic realities in large parts 

22          of the state.  

23                 So thank you very much, Commissioner.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Point well made.  


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 1          Thank you, Senator.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Oaks.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Hi, Commissioner.  

 5                 I know Senator O'Mara asked some 

 6          questions related to Plan 2014, and Senator 

 7          Helming mentioned that, and also 

 8          Assemblywoman Jenne.  And, you know, for 

 9          those of us who opposed it, the agreement, 

10          you know, near the end of the Obama 

11          administration going out was a bit 

12          frustrating.  And, you know, the opposition I 

13          think comes from the devastation we know is 

14          going to happen at some point because we're 

15          going to allow higher water.  And so there's 

16          going to be impact on the south shore 

17          property owners, and some on the eastern 

18          shore as well, when we have those instances.  

19          And certainly that's both public and private.  

20          And I know you talked a little bit about the 

21          possibility of some public answers with that.

22                 I know there are some efforts going on 

23          at the federal level to maybe pull back from 

24          that.  Obviously I support that.  


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 1                 But just in thinking with that, in 

 2          proposing 2014 the IJC did a bunch of 

 3          research.  And all that's been publicly given 

 4          is some summary of that.  Did they share with 

 5          you what the more specific impact of their 

 6          research says is what's going to happen, so 

 7          that we know what -- you know, you talked 

 8          about some mitigation possibilities or 

 9          resiliency things.  Do we know what those 

10          are?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So I personally 

12          saw summary information.  I'll have to check 

13          with my staff to see whether or not we got 

14          more extensive information that you're 

15          referring to.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  My hope would be 

17          that if you haven't, could we try to get 

18          that?  Certainly if it -- you know, I can see 

19          the reason maybe they pulled back when it 

20          was -- before.  But certainly having that I 

21          think could be helpful both in your efforts 

22          or any efforts at the local level.

23                 The second thing I'd like to ask a 

24          quick question about, the mandatory organic 


                                                                  159

 1          waste recycling program.  One of my -- I get 

 2          a little nervous when we start out with 

 3          mandatory and whatever.  And certainly we 

 4          struggle with rules, regulations and whatever 

 5          that we add.  

 6                 I do think we have a major issue with 

 7          food waste.  And just interestingly, though, 

 8          in and around my district I've seen some 

 9          amazing progress in the last couple of years, 

10          things I wouldn't have thought about.  But 

11          kind of the free market is working a little 

12          bit.  And so we've seen apple and blueberry 

13          and cranberry and grape waste that was thrown 

14          away, or paid to take away, is now being 

15          used, repurposed, dried, put into -- used as 

16          additives or other things.  And so that 

17          market is working.  

18                 I just -- I guess I hope that -- I 

19          know there's some grant money I did see as a 

20          part of that program.  I hope the 

21          incentivized versus the mandate side of it is 

22          there in the creativity and the ingenuity of 

23          kind of individuals, because I do think -- 

24          and I guess I'd ask for your, you know, kind 


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 1          of thoughts on this.  

 2                 But, you know, there -- I hope that 

 3          the program, if it goes through, is designed 

 4          in a way that it's not so narrow that it 

 5          doesn't allow those who -- where we haven't 

 6          thought of what the answers might be, that 

 7          they're allowed.  Because I think there are 

 8          people out there who may create a business to 

 9          do something with that food waste that ends 

10          up being a positive for us that we may not 

11          envision.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I think 

13          what we're trying to do with this is to 

14          create an all-in comprehensive program that 

15          isn't just you must recycle your organics, 

16          but in fact help to create a more sustainable 

17          and stable market really statewide, because 

18          there's so much flow right now going to the 

19          landfills.  You know, not going to food 

20          banks, not going to anaerobic digestion, not 

21          going to other productive uses.

22                 So the idea of the phase-in, in part, 

23          and the changes we're making regulatorily to 

24          enable anaerobic digesters to come in, for 


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 1          example, proposed changes to SEQR to make it 

 2          easier to site some of these locations 

 3          without going through a environmental review, 

 4          trying to get the market established.  

 5                 And then ultimately, once the program 

 6          is up and running, if you're a generator and 

 7          you somehow meet the generator levels but 

 8          you're more than 50 miles away from a viable 

 9          receiver of that, then you can get a waiver.  

10          And there's also other waivers that can be 

11          given through this proposed package that 

12          we're putting together that if it's not 

13          financially viable for you to do organic 

14          recycling, that you can get a waiver.

15                 So I think the program we're trying to 

16          create is one where we foster a sustainable 

17          flow of materials to various sources -- food 

18          banks, anaerobic digestion, reuse.  But we're 

19          certainly open to creating a program that 

20          brings in as many actors as possible and 

21          incentivizes behavior.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.


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 1                 Senator O'Mara.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

 3          Commissioner.  Back again with a few more 

 4          questions to finish up.  I thank you for your 

 5          patience and diligence here in answering all 

 6          these questions.

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I share Senator 

 9          Ortt's concerns over the fisheries in 

10          Lake Ontario and the stocking programs, and 

11          want to keep a close eye on that going 

12          forward.  But another outdoor sportsman 

13          activity is deer hunting, where we have 

14          arguably the finest whitetail deer hunting in 

15          the country here, particularly in the 

16          Southern Tier of New York, where I am 

17          fortunate to represent.  

18                 That we have concerns over antler 

19          restrictions and really the lack of 

20          motivation from the department in pursuing 

21          stronger antler restrictions so that we have 

22          more quantity of trophy bucks.  You know, 

23          whitetail deer hunting I think has the 

24          largest impact economically of any outdoor 


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 1          activity in the state.  And having those 

 2          trophies available is something that drives 

 3          certainly tourism from out-of-state hunters 

 4          into the state to do that.

 5                 The DEC has worked in years past with 

 6          Cornell in doing surveys in regions where you 

 7          have instituted antler restrictions.  And 

 8          those surveys have shown, from the 

 9          information I've received from Cornell, 

10          somewhere in the range of 80 to 90 percent 

11          favorability of hunters in those programs to 

12          get the trophy bucks and avoid shooting the 

13          yearling bucks.  

14                 Why isn't the program looking to 

15          expand on those programs in other regions 

16          throughout the state?  

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, I think 

18          what we learned is that you're right, there 

19          is support for antler restrictions.  There's 

20          support for passing on a buck.  But -- 

21          passing on a buck.  

22                 (Laughter.)

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  There's support 

24          for enabling deer to get larger and have more 


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 1          impressive antlers.  But I think what we also 

 2          heard very loud and clear is that hunters 

 3          want choice.  The majority of hunters that we 

 4          caucused, through Cornell and through our 

 5          stakeholder meetings, voiced to us that they 

 6          supported that but wanted to be able to 

 7          choose and wanted the hunters out there to be 

 8          able to make that choice themselves.

 9                 So what DEC has decided to do is pull 

10          back on mandatory antler restrictions and 

11          favor a more encouraging approach where we 

12          incentivize hunters to go after older bucks 

13          but do not require them to.

14                 So it's certainly obviously a very 

15          passionate debate that's raged within the 

16          hunting community for many, many years.  We 

17          are now in I think year one and a half of 

18          this voluntary approach, and it's something I 

19          believe in and I believe will work, because 

20          my team has been telling me this is the right 

21          path forward.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Can you explain to me 

23          how you incentivize passing on an antlerless 

24          buck to the hunting community if they have 


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 1          the choice to do it or not do it?  What's the 

 2          incentive for them?  

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, part of it 

 4          I think is messaging, Senator.  I think, you 

 5          know, that we -- we do believe we've got some 

 6          of the best hunting in North America.  I 

 7          think the numbers show that out.  We've got a 

 8          significant amount of cash flowing into the 

 9          state from the hunting community.

10                 And within the Adventure NY package, 

11          and what we're talking about now with I Love 

12          NY this year, is in doing really targeted 

13          marketing to hunters to bring more hunters 

14          into the state, to retain hunters and to 

15          attract hunters back into the market.  I 

16          think part of that messaging is going to 

17          include some of the voluntary encouragement 

18          for going after some of the larger bucks and 

19          enjoying the experience of just getting out 

20          there.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you on that.

22                 To follow up on Assemblyman Oaks's 

23          questions on the food waste mandate -- which 

24          is a solid effort, I think, in looking to 


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 1          reuse, repurpose or appropriately recycle the 

 2          food waste.  But I haven't seen any 

 3          information from the department on what the 

 4          cost of that will be to a producer of this 

 5          waste.  You're setting an activation level 

 6          of, I believe, two tons a week for that.  

 7          What will it cost a restaurant to dispose of 

 8          two tons of waste?

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I think 

10          part of what we're doing is trying to make a 

11          market for the waste so it's actually a net 

12          benefit for them in going after organics 

13          reuse, as opposed to just landfilling.  

14          Because right now they've got to pay for that 

15          waste anyway.  They've got to dispose of it 

16          anyway.  So there's an inherent cost in it 

17          now.  What we want to do is make the cost in 

18          fact a benefit on the organics reuse side.

19                 And we're in the middle of a study 

20          right now, we're waiting to see results of 

21          it, to see what the net benefit to the state 

22          will be of an organics program.  And once we 

23          get that information, we'll be happy to share 

24          it with you.


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 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But we don't know 

 2          what the cost will be to a producer, a 

 3          generator of this waste.  And that concerns 

 4          me, in coming out with a mandate on business 

 5          in this state not knowing what the cost of 

 6          that will be to the generator of that waste.  

 7          And as you have stated, you're trying to 

 8          create a market for this recycling of food 

 9          waste.

10                 It seems to me that we should create 

11          the market before we mandate the use of a 

12          market that doesn't exist, not knowing what 

13          the cost and the impacts to the business 

14          owners are going to be.  We're 49th or 50th 

15          in business climate in this state, year in 

16          and year out.  It's a major concern to me on, 

17          again, raising the cost to a certain segment 

18          of business, not to mention what the impacts 

19          of this will be to our school districts, our 

20          hospitals and other public institutions that 

21          generate this waste as well.

22                 So I have great reservations on moving 

23          forward on this without having any real 

24          detail on the cost.  I know there's a few 


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 1          other states that have embarked on this prior 

 2          to New York.  Can you tell us what you're 

 3          seeing in those states, or is it too early to 

 4          tell?  Why don't we watch what happens there 

 5          and see what the costs are before we impose 

 6          this mandate here in New York?  

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I'm going 

 8          to let Julie provide some details because 

 9          she's been hatching this, effectively, 

10          working with our staffs, taking the lead on 

11          it for a couple of years now.

12                 But I will say this.  Again, our goal 

13          is to build the market.  It's to build the 

14          market over the next four years, while 

15          there's the incentive of a regulatory 

16          deadline out there.  To provide funding, to 

17          provide regulatory relief on the creation of 

18          structures that can use this material, like 

19          anaerobic digesters.  Build the market, 

20          ensure that we're providing an option for 

21          businesses when the regulations come into 

22          effect.  And if they don't, there are 

23          fail-safes built into the proposal that give 

24          businesses an out who would be otherwise 


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 1          negatively impacted.  

 2                 And just to clarify one thing.  The 

 3          school districts -- school districts are 

 4          not -- would not be part of this.  It would 

 5          be just larger institutions.  

 6                 But I'll let Julie provide some color 

 7          on this, because she's spent a lot of time 

 8          thinking about other states and what we can 

 9          do here in New York.  

10                 ASST. COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  So we're 

11          actually already undertaking a number of 

12          initiatives associated with this program.  In 

13          2015, we had a food waste study or a food 

14          waste roundtable at Wegmans, actually, in 

15          Rochester.  And we announced at that point in 

16          time that there was going to be funding for 

17          the Pollution Prevention Institute to 

18          undertake food waste audits at large 

19          generators.  And they've been doing those 

20          projects now to evaluate opportunities for 

21          smarter purchasing policies by these 

22          generators, ways for them to help reduce 

23          their costs overall of their programs, and 

24          identify what needs they might have if they 


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 1          were to have to comply with such a 

 2          regulation.  

 3                 We are building in the four-year 

 4          period, as Basil indicated, to allow time for 

 5          us to get those audits implemented.  There's 

 6          additional funding -- I think $2 million over 

 7          three years -- through the ESD, the secondary 

 8          marketing materials line of the Environmental 

 9          Protection Fund, that will be available to 

10          implement some of these capital needs 

11          associated with that.  For example, if a 

12          generator needs bins in order to sort the 

13          food waste, similar to what they do for 

14          normal recyclables.  It will also allow time 

15          for contracts for waste management to be 

16          addressed.  

17                 We think that having this time will 

18          allow for prices to come down.  I think when 

19          we've looked at some other states -- and 

20          again, as the commissioner indicated, we have 

21          a study ongoing now that we're expecting to 

22          come out very shortly that will characterize 

23          this more specifically -- but it really 

24          varies, what the costs will be.  From looking 


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 1          at Massachusetts, for example, in some cases 

 2          it's pretty cost-neutral.  In other cases it 

 3          can be more expensive.  Which is why, again, 

 4          we've built in a limiting factor of distance 

 5          to a recycler that has capacity to take that 

 6          waste, as well as the opportunity for waivers 

 7          if there are cost exceedances.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  My time 

 9          is up.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

12                 Assemblyman Kavanagh.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Thank you, 

14          Mr. Chairman.

15                 Like several folks before me, some of 

16          the questions that I came into the room with 

17          have been addressed.  So I'm going to sort of 

18          do a hodgepodge of following up on a couple 

19          of things, and maybe a couple of new issues.  

20                 First, I just want to -- I'm not going 

21          to -- we've discussed the organics waste 

22          program with several folks today.  I would 

23          just say that we'll be looking at the 

24          details, but that is a program, as you know, 


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 1          that we had some roundtables on, the 

 2          Environmental Conservation Law, the 

 3          Agriculture Committee, and the Commission on 

 4          Government Administration, which I was 

 5          chairing at the time.  

 6                 And I think it's a very important and 

 7          fruitful area to reduce waste -- again, no 

 8          pun intended.  And, you know, the approach 

 9          you're taking where you both create 

10          incentives and create a regulation, a 

11          prospective regulation, so you're actually 

12          creating a market -- because people know they 

13          need to start thinking about it 

14          differently -- does seem like a good approach 

15          and has been productive in other states.  

16                 But we'll be -- without judging the 

17          specifics of what you're proposing, I think 

18          it's something we'd like to work with you on.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Great.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  I want to 

21          follow up on just this -- the 1,4-dioxane 

22          issue has been covered by a couple of 

23          different participants, but I just want to -- 

24          the Governor over the weekend said that he 


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 1          was calling on the EPA to do standards, and 

 2          if the EPA doesn't, he will -- the state will 

 3          act.  

 4                 Can you just talk about what that 

 5          would entail?  You'd have to create some sort 

 6          of advisory panel to set the standard and 

 7          then promulgate it in a rule, or how does 

 8          that work?  

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Exactly right.  

10          So we've given the federal government I think 

11          three months to get back to us on this.  If 

12          they do not, then we would -- yes, we would 

13          convene a scientific advisory panel to bring 

14          in the best minds so that we could set an 

15          enforceable guideline for New York State.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  And that would 

17          be specific to that substance.

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Okay.  Are 

20          there other candidates for -- I mean, you 

21          know, I think this is one of these issues 

22          that although we've known about this 

23          substance for a long time, its level of 

24          carcinogenicity has kind of become a greater 


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 1          issue for people recently.  Are there other 

 2          substances that are sort of on the list of 

 3          things that we might want to be looking at 

 4          for a greater concern?

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, let me say 

 6          this.  The sort of the prevalence, the 

 7          widespread nature of this right now, and the 

 8          fact that it doesn't have good controls at 

 9          the federal level, mandates that we take a 

10          unique approach to it in a short period of 

11          time.  Plus the fact that EPA came out with 

12          their studies last year finding that it was, 

13          you know, in certain water districts.  So the 

14          time is now to obviously take action on that, 

15          now that we have that information.

16                 I would defer to DOH on other types of 

17          chemicals that might be of concern in 

18          drinking water.  Again, we work very well 

19          together, but their jurisdictions are 

20          slightly different than ours on the drinking 

21          water side.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  How long of a 

23          process would it take if -- in three months, 

24          if the EPA decides not to act, you convene 


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 1          the panel.  How long would it take to get to 

 2          the point where it's actually an enforceable 

 3          standard in New York?

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I couldn't tell 

 5          you, honestly.  I have not convened an 

 6          advisory panel on a drinking water standard 

 7          before, and I'm not sure that the DEC has.  

 8          That would be something, again, that's a DOH 

 9          matter.  But I don't think the intent of this 

10          is to have it drag on forever.  I think we 

11          want some certainty now.  I think the 

12          Governor has shown that we're there on 

13          generating knowledge of potential treatment 

14          systems, we're providing money for that, 

15          we're providing science on that side.  DEC, 

16          we're running after potential causes of it in 

17          groundwater.  

18                 So we want a comprehensive approach, 

19          we want it fast, and I don't think, you know, 

20          a long process would be acceptable to 

21          anybody.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  And just one 

23          more question.  

24                 We had this conversation in the summer 


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 1          during the water quality hearings.  But I 

 2          think a lot of us were surprised to fully 

 3          understand that systems that serve fewer than 

 4          10,000 people are essentially untested 

 5          throughout New York, and that that might 

 6          account for as much as a third of all the 

 7          water customers in the state.

 8                 The Governor mentioned specifically in 

 9          his remarks that -- he called that a loophole 

10          at the federal level.  And in calling on the 

11          EPA to add this chemical, presumably this 

12          chemical and many others would not be 

13          adequately addressed by the EPA even if they 

14          decided to add it to the list.

15                 Has there been any discussion at the 

16          state level of strengthening the testing 

17          requirements for smaller water systems and 

18          what that would cost and who would be 

19          responsible for it?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  Well, 

21          again, DOH is in charge of water testing, 

22          testing of drinking water at the state level.  

23          But I think the plan that the Governor put 

24          out there to require UCMR-like testing for 


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 1          all public drinking water sources is going to 

 2          give us that level of understanding of what's 

 3          in drinking water.  And if you look at the 

 4          reports that larger drinking water operators 

 5          generate, you know, they test for a suite of 

 6          chemicals.  Those are generally effective.  

 7          But occasionally new chemicals are put on the 

 8          list.  Over time, these are -- it's the Safe 

 9          Drinking Water Act, again, that EPA is 

10          charged with and, on the state level, that 

11          DOH is in charge of.

12                 So that's -- you know, the universe of 

13          tests that those municipalities will have to 

14          go through will cover a lot of what we're 

15          talking about.

16                 ASST. COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  And to be 

17          clear, there is a proposal in the budget, in 

18          the health and mental hygiene budget, to do 

19          just that.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  That has made 

21          it into the budget document itself.

22                 Just briefly, the EPF, we are 

23          proposing a $300 million allocation for that, 

24          but allocating about $216 million of it in 


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 1          the current year.  And that number gradually 

 2          rises over the next couple of years to 

 3          $250 million.  If we're allocating 

 4          $300 million a year -- which is, you know, I 

 5          think something we had had disputes over in 

 6          the past -- why does the actual disbursement 

 7          number not rise to $300 million more rapidly?  

 8                 And also, is there an issue with the 

 9          sustainability of that, given I think some of 

10          the revenue sources for the EPF have declined 

11          in recent years?  

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think I'm 

13          going to ask Jeff, who is my deputy 

14          commissioner for administration, Jeff 

15          Stefanko, to answer some of the cash flow and 

16          allocation figures.

17                 DEP. COMMISSIONER STEFANKO:  Yeah, I 

18          think the main reason could be that any time 

19          you put that kind of money out in a fiscal 

20          year, it takes several years for it to flow.  

21          A lot of it's procurement issues.  You go to 

22          RFP, by the time you got to contract it could 

23          be, you know, two, three years.  A lot of 

24          these grants are reimbursement-based, so by 


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 1          the time your municipality spends the money, 

 2          it's -- and finishes their side of the 

 3          project, it could be a couple of years.  Land 

 4          acquisition takes several years to go from 

 5          the very beginning stages through the end of 

 6          the stage, where we're closing on the 

 7          project.  So last year's $300 million, the 

 8          spending associated with that is going to 

 9          take several years to actually get out the 

10          door.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  But am I 

12          correct that --

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Just one quick 

15          follow-up.  Am I correct that the level only 

16          gets to $250 million in the fiscal 2022 

17          budget?  It would be six years after we 

18          raised it to $300 million.

19                 DEP. COMMISSIONER STEFANKO:  That 

20          sounds about right.  I mean, I'm not --

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  It just seems 

22          like a very long runup to -- you know, that 

23          at some point the allocation ought to -- you 

24          know, you're spending money from prior years.  


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 1          It seems like it ought to catch up to 

 2          $300 million, and that seems like a very long 

 3          time to wait for that.  

 4                 But thank you.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 Senator?  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Kennedy.

 8                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Thank you again, 

 9          Chairwoman.  

10                 Thank you, Commissioner.  

11                 The emerald ash borer has devastated 

12          New York's ash trees for years.  It's 

13          reaching crisis levels.  Over 900 million 

14          trees across the state are ash.  In Erie 

15          County, 20 percent of the canopy is ash 

16          trees.  We've talked about the invasive 

17          species control measures, the $12.5 million 

18          contained in the budget.

19                 My understanding is that these funds 

20          would not assist local homeowners, such as 

21          the Town of Cheektowaga folks that are 

22          suffering.  An individual I spoke to had 20 

23          dead ash trees in his backyard.  

24                 What are we doing, what is the DEC 


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 1          doing to help individual homeowners with the 

 2          costs of removing or treating infected trees 

 3          on their property?  Do you see any sort of 

 4          substantive efforts to implement a tax credit 

 5          of sorts, or prioritizing biodiversity in 

 6          tree plantings at the local and municipal 

 7          level?

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I'll tell 

 9          you this.  Right now the grants we put out 

10          obviously aren't eligible for use on private 

11          property.  Overall, our EAB controls are -- 

12          we have a statewide quarantine in effect.  

13          We're working on with Ag and Markets.  When 

14          it gets down to the local level, no question 

15          you have areas where you have ash trees that 

16          are of higher concentration and it's a big 

17          concern.  

18                 We do have funding out of the Urban 

19          Forestry Program that municipalities can take 

20          advantage of to address some of these local 

21          concerns, like what you're talking about.  So 

22          perhaps what we can do is have a conversation 

23          with our staff that do the Urban Forestry 

24          Grant Program to see how we can target 


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 1          specific instances out in your district where 

 2          you have a kind of prevalence of trees and 

 3          the threats associated with the new EAB 

 4          coming in.

 5                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Great.  Also, I want 

 6          to switch gears back to Lackawanna, the 

 7          Bethlehem Steel site.  Lackawanna is faced 

 8          with much higher insurance premiums due to 

 9          being mandated by FEMA to be included in the 

10          National Flood Insurance Program, since FEMA 

11          considers Smokes Creek to be subject to 

12          flooding, despite the fact that there's been 

13          recent mitigation efforts, including DEC 

14          dredging of the sediments.  They also haven't 

15          seen a flood in over 60 years from Smokes 

16          Creek.

17                 What's the DEC doing and what's the 

18          DEC willing to do to help remove Lackawanna 

19          from this flood plain?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, you're 

21          absolutely right, I think that the dredging 

22          that we took part in will help to address 

23          many of the concerns about flooding in the 

24          area, allow the water to flow out of there a 


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 1          little bit easier, because it was plugged up.  

 2          And you and I have talked about the idea of 

 3          some kind of a preventative measure to keep 

 4          storm surge and other waters from flowing up 

 5          the creek.

 6                 But we are engaged with our federal 

 7          partners now in helping them understand what 

 8          the real flood situation is, and the fact 

 9          that it's probably well past time to redraw 

10          those lines to provide some relief to 

11          Lackawanna.  So I'm hoping that this year we 

12          can at least nail down a solid understanding 

13          on the federal level and have them proceed to 

14          make some amendments in their maps.

15                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  That's great to 

16          hear.  Is the DEC willing to construct a 

17          jetty to reduce that sediment buildup?

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I will say this.  

19          We are certainly interested in the dialogue 

20          about it.  I don't know that we can commit at 

21          this time to actually building a jetty.  But 

22          I think what I can do is convene my team to 

23          understand, you know, groundwater and surface 

24          water flows and how best to prevent the kind 


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 1          of storms that you're talking about.  

 2                 It might be -- some options might 

 3          involve either, you know, jetty-type 

 4          construction or you could broaden the mouth 

 5          of the creek slightly to cut down on the 

 6          amount of water that flows up from one 

 7          particular spot.

 8                 So there might be ways to do this 

 9          through other funding sources -- source 

10          control, source water control.  Yeah, and 

11          creating what we've done elsewhere around the 

12          state, like on Long Island following 

13          Superstorm Sandy, where you just had this 

14          incredible surge, is actually rebuilding the 

15          shoreline closer to where it was originally, 

16          where you have an actual living shoreline 

17          with plantings and dunes.  I'm not suggesting 

18          that necessarily for the property, but there 

19          might be some creative thinking we can put 

20          into place to create more of a living 

21          shoreline, a softer shoreline that can absorb 

22          more water that would be blown towards it 

23          from the lake.

24                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  I appreciate your 


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 1          engagement at this level, and the residents 

 2          of Lackawanna along Smokes Creek have been 

 3          suffering long enough, so that is music to my 

 4          ears. 

 5                 And one last thing.  For the 

 6          constituents -- just going back to the 

 7          Bethlehem Steel redevelopment, the 

 8          constituents are constantly asking us about 

 9          what is next.  Can you just tell, you know, 

10          next steps moving forward in the 

11          revitalization of that Bethlehem Steel site?

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I think 

13          the next steps are going to involve getting 

14          into the repurposing of the site and how it 

15          may change hands -- developers coming in, the 

16          county is obviously interested.  We want to 

17          see the site returned to productive use as 

18          quickly as possible.  We want to see portions 

19          of it remediated more quickly.  I mean, there 

20          are still some hotspots that need to be 

21          addressed.

22                 And I'd tell your constituents that 

23          now we have a very engaged state agency, 

24          multiple state agencies -- CSD as well -- 


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 1          looking to get this done as quickly as 

 2          possible.  And I think we want to take 

 3          advantage of what's going on in Buffalo right 

 4          now, the interest in construction and 

 5          building, to use this property in a way that 

 6          benefits everyone in the area.

 7                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Thank you very much.

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

11                 Assemblyman Phil Steck.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  He's not here.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Okay.  Assemblyman 

14          Lopez.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

16          Chairman.

17                 Commissioner, I give you credit for 

18          your perseverance, and I'm very appreciative 

19          of your team's thoughtful leadership in my 

20          district.  They've been very helpful in many 

21          different ways.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  You're welcome.

24                 Three quick areas.  On the dairy waste 


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 1          mitigation that you spoke of in your 

 2          testimony, can you expand on it a little bit, 

 3          tell me what you're envisioning there?

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I'm sorry, which 

 5          waste?  

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  The dairy waste.

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Dairy waste, 

 8          CAFOs, right.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Yes, page 2.

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So we -- after 

11          many years of work with the ag community and 

12          the environmental community as well, we put 

13          out a general permit this year for CAFOs.  

14          And that's meant to provide some certainty as 

15          to the steps that need to be taken by a CAFO 

16          to reduce discharges.  It's a sort of a rare 

17          example of where you have all sides coming 

18          together and effectively coming up with a 

19          good permit and a good path forward.

20                 So that's step one, is the certainty.  

21          Step two is obviously helping them reach 

22          their goals.  And through the EPF over the 

23          last few years, and certainly moving forward, 

24          we're going to be moving money out the door 


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 1          as quickly as possible to help farms reduce 

 2          their overall impact to streams.

 3                 We have a very robust ag non-point 

 4          source line that's been used extensively for 

 5          this.  That grant program will continue.  

 6          I've worked very closely with Ag and Markets 

 7          and Commissioner Ball on it, and it's proved 

 8          to be effective.  As we're sort of seeing the 

 9          boom in milk production and yogurt 

10          production, we want to see that the farms are 

11          given the resources necessary to keep the 

12          environment clean.  And the program has been 

13          working fairly well to this point.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you.  And 

15          again, as we all know, dairy farmers continue 

16          to struggle with the price of milk.  And the 

17          critical issue is incentivizing.  So if we 

18          can reach the environmental goals and help 

19          our dairy farmers retain some profitability, 

20          I think we all want that.

21                 Commissioner, just quickly, back to 

22          the Catskill Park, if we could.  On the 

23          hemlock woolly adelgid, I do know that my 

24          colleagues in that region are looking for 


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 1          your help to establish a biocontrol 

 2          initiative.  And they're looking for funding 

 3          to put a beetle that preys on this parasite 

 4          and control the deforestation that is going 

 5          to occur in that region.

 6                 So we're asking for your help.  

 7          They've made a specific request.  I know you 

 8          have invasive species all over the place, but 

 9          this particular one is mirroring what I saw 

10          with the gypsy moth episode years ago, 

11          deforesting the whole region.  So I just want 

12          to draw your attention to that.

13                 Lastly, we had some of our colleagues 

14          talk about rangers, access to rangers in the 

15          Adirondack Park.  Catskill Park has needs for 

16          public safety.

17                 And just as a point of reference, I 

18          made recommendations in the past to look at 

19          access to forested lands for environmental 

20          thinning and other select harvest.  I know 

21          you folks work at it aggressively, but my 

22          only premise is if we can find a way to 

23          manage it sustainably, perhaps we can also 

24          make sure it comes back to you for more 


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 1          foresters and for more rangers so that we can 

 2          provide that safety and keep that resource 

 3          moving.  It has many benefits.

 4                 So I didn't know what -- if you think 

 5          you're at peak with that or if you think 

 6          there might be some room to massage that --

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I can tell 

 8          you on the Forest Ranger side we've worked 

 9          hard over the last few years to replenish 

10          their force.  We started out back in -- I 

11          guess in 2013 we had 111 rangers.  And now, 

12          as you know, we just got back-to-back classes 

13          last year, graduated a class.  We have a 

14          class that started just yesterday.

15                 When this class is completed, we 

16          expect to be up to 132.  So we've actually 

17          built the ranger force back.  We've done the 

18          same thing with the ECO force, same type of 

19          increase.  

20                 So, I mean, I've made it a priority.  

21          I mean, I think there's probably nothing more 

22          important we do on a going forward basis than 

23          the work of our rangers and ECOs, because 

24          whenever they're in action, it's a 


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 1          life-saving situation and we don't have time 

 2          to plan, it's time to act only.  So we've 

 3          been giving them everything we can.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  So my premise back 

 5          to the forested lands and opening them up 

 6          more aggressively is twofold.  One, we can 

 7          generate revenue to target to the department.  

 8          Plus if we move that product and we give 

 9          local businesses access, there's a multiplier 

10          effect throughout the region.  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I fully agree 

12          with you.  In fact, the last couple of 

13          years -- I think last year we actually hit a 

14          record on our harvesting from state 

15          forestlands.  So we continue to increase 

16          those numbers and see better production out 

17          of our forests.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Perfect.  Thank 

19          you, Commissioner.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Hoylman.

22                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  First, thank you for 

23          your --

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Microphone.


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 1                 MULTIPLE VOICES:  Mic.

 2                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Oh, thank you for 

 3          telling me about my microphone.

 4                 I wanted to thank you for your strong 

 5          words on climate change, obviously.  A bitter 

 6          contrast to your counterpart at the federal 

 7          level.  And I'm appreciative of everything 

 8          you do.  

 9                 In particular, I wanted to also thank 

10          you on your leadership involving General 

11          Electric and the Hudson.  Have you heard from 

12          the EPA in terms of additional testing?  This 

13          is obviously of concern to my constituents, 

14          who live downstream, but the indication may 

15          be that PCBs have filtered to even as far as 

16          Manhattan.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So as you may 

18          know, we're right in the middle of what's 

19          called a five-year review.  So General 

20          Electric had finished what was required or 

21          asked of them by the EPA last year.  Now 

22          we're reviewing that work to see whether or 

23          not it actually met the goals of the original 

24          Record of Decision from the early 2000s.  So 


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 1          we're an active participant in that.  We go 

 2          to every meeting.  We're in regular dialogue 

 3          with the EPA on it.  And that's the vehicle 

 4          through which we are then providing our 

 5          technical expertise.

 6                 Based on everything we've seen right 

 7          now, we don't believe the job is done.  We 

 8          see, you know, 60-some percent of the PCBs 

 9          have been removed from the river; there's 

10          still that delta out there.

11                 So we actually submitted our own 

12          shadow report that kind of tracks where the 

13          EPA will be with its five-year report -- we 

14          did that back in December -- in an effort to 

15          encourage them to look very objectively, use 

16          the science to see whether or not the job has 

17          been completed.  I think what we're seeing 

18          now is that it probably hasn't been.  

19                 We expect a draft report from the EPA 

20          sometime late winter, early spring, and then 

21          a final decision at some point thereafter.  

22          The decision will be whether or not it's been 

23          protective.  If they say that it has been 

24          protective, then they would issue a 


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 1          certificate of completion.  Well, I think in 

 2          a few months we might be in a different spot 

 3          on that.

 4                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you.

 5                 In terms of the $2 billion for the 

 6          Clean Water Infrastructure Act, do we have a 

 7          breakdown of how that's going to be 

 8          distributed and what your priorities are with 

 9          that?

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We don't at this 

11          time.  I think what we have is an 

12          understanding that about half of it is going 

13          to go into the traditional water/wastewater 

14          funding, the WIIA funding that we've been 

15          working on for the last few years.  Half of 

16          it will just go right into that kind of a 

17          program, and the balance of it will go into 

18          some new things that we think are very high 

19          priorities for the state.  As I committed to 

20          your colleagues earlier, we will be working 

21          with you to provide some specificity to that 

22          in the coming months.

23                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  So a draft plan of 

24          sorts of action before the budget is passed?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We can work on 

 2          that, yup.

 3                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  And then the issue 

 4          of the last couple of weeks, plastic bags.  

 5          I'm surprised you haven't been asked about it 

 6          yet.  Do you have thoughts on the city's bill 

 7          at this point and what the Governor and the 

 8          second floor and you, I assume, are thinking?  

 9                 And secondly, is there a statewide 

10          plan to address the scourge of plastic bags?  

11          In New York alone, it's a $8 million to 

12          $10 million a year problem involving 

13          something like 10 billion, with a B, excess 

14          plastic bags.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  You're right, 

16          bags are a scourge.  There's no doubt about 

17          it.  We're seeing plastic in waterways all 

18          across the world; a lot of that is from 

19          plastic bags.  

20                 So, listen, I think the Governor has 

21          spoken for our position on this.  And he has 

22          recognized the environmental goals are 

23          laudable, but there are concerns about 

24          impacts to people who have to pay the fee and 


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 1          there are also some concerns about where that 

 2          fee ends up.

 3                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Do you have an 

 4          understanding of how extensive the problem is 

 5          statewide in terms of cost and pollution?  

 6                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I can't speak to 

 7          cost.  The statistics I've seen are that in 

 8          the city it's 9 million; statewide, it's 

 9          23 billion bags a year.  So it's obviously a 

10          huge number.  

11                 And to my knowledge, there is no state 

12          law or regulation on this.  I gather 

13          something has been proposed recently.

14                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Is it something your 

15          agency is looking at, like you looked at 

16          microbead legislation and how to address that 

17          issue?  

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we're 

19          certainly looking at the problem of plastic 

20          bags.  I can't get into whether or not we're 

21          considering legislation on it, but we're 

22          looking at the bags themselves.

23                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you.  And 

24          thank you again for your leadership.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

 2          Appreciate it.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 4                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mr. McLaughlin.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Thanks, 

 6          Commissioner.  Thank you, Chairman.  

 7                 Hoosick Falls -- of course, right?  

 8          The consent order with DEC between 

 9          Saint-Gobain and Honeywell, you can require 

10          them to pay for bio and health monitoring, as 

11          I understand it.  Do you intend to follow 

12          through and have them do that?  Or where are 

13          we in the process?  

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I'm not certain 

15          that the consent order enables us to require 

16          them to do biomonitoring.  I think our 

17          consent order is more on the -- DEC's consent 

18          order with the companies deals more with the 

19          contamination, the trackdown, the 

20          investigation, and the controls, the clean 

21          water controls.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  And so it may 

23          be more of a DOH question, then, I guess.  

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It probably is, 


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 1          yes.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Okay.  VOCs 

 3          just popping up there.  When did they get 

 4          discovered?  When did we know it?  Is the 

 5          data all collected, or are we still in the 

 6          process of that?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So as part of 

 8          our Superfund investigation and our consent 

 9          order with the companies, we required them to 

10          characterize not just the PFOA issue but do a 

11          deep dive into problems they had on their 

12          properties.  And there's a couple of 

13          properties, as you know; there's the 

14          McCaffrey site and then the John Street site.  

15          And in the collection of those groundwater 

16          contamination results, we got those tests and 

17          recognized that there was a VOC, this TCE, in 

18          one of them.  

19                 And we see this all across the state.  

20          I'm not saying this is all across the state.  

21          But whenever you have a TCE situation, you 

22          have that stuff in groundwater, you want to 

23          check quickly to see if it's in people's 

24          homes, because VOCs do travel with the 


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 1          groundwater, and they can volatize.  

 2                 At this point we have no indication 

 3          that any of the VOCs are in anybody's home or 

 4          even if they're off-site from the 

 5          contaminated area of the property.  But 

 6          last -- I think it was Friday, we put out an 

 7          announcement that we're forcing Honeywell to 

 8          go out there, go check out a smaller section 

 9          of homes, about 39 homes, see if any of them 

10          have VOCs, by the installation of these 

11          canisters within the homes.  We'll get those 

12          results quickly.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Great.  And 

14          of course we'll get those results when they 

15          come out.

16                 What makes you think it's just that 

17          39-home parcel?  

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think it's the 

19          groundwater flow from the area.  So making 

20          assumptions based on where the property is 

21          and who's in the path of groundwater flow 

22          down towards the lowest-gravity area.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Okay, great.  

24          And certainly I'm getting texts from people 


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 1          in Hoosick Falls as we speak.  

 2                 But certainly the main filter's in, in 

 3          town, working.  That's great.  Good news.  A 

 4          couple of questions off of that.  There's 

 5          some concern about C6 and the changeout 

 6          schedule of the filters.  Certainly it's 

 7          effective, and it's working.  We're really 

 8          pleased with that.  But there's a concern 

 9          that if we base it on a C8 filter changeout, 

10          does the C6 at some point begin to sneak 

11          through?  Any thoughts on that at all?  I 

12          mean, as far as the possibility of that and a 

13          way to prevent that.  

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  You're 

15          asking me something I don't have the 

16          expertise really to answer.  I think that 

17          might be more appropriate for DOH.  Because 

18          we -- you know, we'll do the installs of the 

19          POETS, for example, but DOH really has the 

20          expertise in terms of when you see crossover 

21          between one tank to the next and what we can 

22          do to sort of facilitate better treatment 

23          technology.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Okay.  And 


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 1          anything -- I don't even want to ask you; 

 2          this is a DOH question.  I was going to ask 

 3          you about blood testing and a second round, 

 4          but that's probably more DOH-specific.

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  Yes.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  In your 

 7          opinion -- certainly the GAC filters work.  

 8          I'm not convinced that they're necessarily 

 9          state of the art, but they do work, and the 

10          water is clean.  Do you think that there 

11          should be a step beyond, a reverse osmosis or 

12          nano, something more than GAC?  

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I think 

14          we've seen GAC be 100 percent effective on 

15          this.  One of the things that the Governor 

16          committed to and that we're actively doing 

17          right now is the alternate water supply.  And 

18          I think that's really -- you know, talk about 

19          clean water.  Getting to clean water at the 

20          source is really our long-term and top 

21          priority.

22                 So I would say -- I would leave the 

23          discussion about, just from my perspective, 

24          the technology aside and just talk quickly 


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 1          about what we're doing to track down that 

 2          clean water.

 3                 As you know, we've spent many months 

 4          looking at places around the valley where you 

 5          might have enough flow, and found relatively 

 6          few locations where you had good water 

 7          quality and good flow.  But we were lucky 

 8          enough to find one spot in the valley, on 

 9          farmland, that -- we're literally in the 

10          middle of testing, I think this week, the 

11          10-inch line to see how much flow can come 

12          out of the ground at that point.  We have 

13          confirmation that the water is good.  What we 

14          need to know is whether or not it's 

15          sufficient enough in flow to actually help 

16          the village's long-term needs.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN MCLAUGHLIN:  So my only -- 

18          I'm not a scientist.  My only concern could 

19          be -- because I've certainly felt we should 

20          use the Tomhannock.  It's about a 12-mile run 

21          up there, so a lot of people to work putting 

22          that line in.  And we know that water is good 

23          and clean.  Is there any concern on your part 

24          or the department's part that we put in the 


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 1          new source -- I think it's near the school, 

 2          if I'm not mistaken -- and then this stuff 

 3          migrates, five or 10 years from now?  Or do 

 4          we think it will be dissipated -- I'm not 

 5          saying that could even happen.  But do you 

 6          have a concern that it could possibly happen? 

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think at this 

 8          point we don't have that concern, just the 

 9          prevalence of groundwater flow being in a 

10          different direction.  But we're obviously 

11          taking everything into consideration.  We've 

12          been testing aggressively throughout the 

13          entire village and town to find out where all 

14          the sources are, using anecdotal information 

15          and also just realtime testing that we're 

16          doing in wells.  So I think we've got a feel 

17          where the right places are and where the safe 

18          places are to be.  This is one of them.  And 

19          I think if we aren't successful for other 

20          reasons not related to contamination, then 

21          we'll have to go to Plan B in terms of other 

22          surface water, groundwater, or other 

23          supplies.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  One last 


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 1          question.  I know I'm out of time, but it's 

 2          short.  

 3                 POETS.  Who's paying for the ongoing 

 4          maintenance of the POETS?

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  DEC.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  DEC.  And 

 7          ultimately Saint-Gobain and Honeywell, or --

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I -- let 

 9          me say this.  The polluter ultimately is 

10          paying for everything.  Right now, through 

11          Superfund, we are expending monies.  There 

12          will be a time and a reckoning, from an 

13          accounting perspective, when we go back and 

14          recover our cost so the taxpayer is made 

15          whole.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Right.  But 

17          the changeouts are happening?  

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Because we're 

20          at that point where they've really got to 

21          happen.  So we're on schedule for that?  

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.  And we 

23          have a contractor, Arcadis, in addition to 

24          our staff, and they're regular in the 


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 1          community right now.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Thank you.  

 3          I'm sorry about the rapid-fire questions --

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No, no, no.  

 5          thank you.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Thank you.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 8                 Any more?

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We're done.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  To close, 

11          Mr. Englebright.  Chairman Englebright.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 

13          Mr. Farrell.

14                 My final question for the day relates 

15          to the Article VII language bill on the 

16          state's Superfund program.  It would amend 

17          the provisions of the state Superfund program 

18          to remove certain procedural requirements, 

19          including a determination of an imminent 

20          danger of causing irreversible or irreparable 

21          damage to the environment prior to the 

22          development of a remedial plan.

23                 So what is the rationale for making a 

24          change that would apparently weaken -- what's 


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 1          the logic behind this proposed change?  

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think it's 

 3          actually the opposite.  It's extending our 

 4          ability to work on sites that don't yet meet 

 5          the imminent and substantial endangerment 

 6          threshold, so that we can address more 

 7          problems proactively as we see them.  You 

 8          know, from illegal dumping sites or from 

 9          landfills where we don't have that 

10          Superfund-level designation, we want to be 

11          able to get out there and stop a problem 

12          before it becomes one.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Part 2 would 

14          also add petroleum to the list of substances 

15          that are hazardous to public health and the 

16          safety of the environment.  But petroleum is 

17          already subject to cleanup and management 

18          pursuant to the Oil Spill Fund.

19                 Why is this change necessary?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, again, I 

21          think it's going to help us broaden our 

22          authority to go after the kinds of 

23          contaminated sites that, again, aren't maybe 

24          covered by Oil Spill -- or by Superfund, but 


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 1          nonetheless we need an ability to tap into 

 2          that quickly to protect water.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 

 4          Commissioner.

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 7                 Commissioner, thank you so much.  And 

 8          I personally want to thank you and your staff 

 9          for their responsiveness.  You've been great 

10          every time we've called, so we truly 

11          appreciate it.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 

13          Senator.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And I also want to 

15          point out something special, and that's 

16          somebody who's special to me, and that's 

17          Lieutenant Liza Bobseine, who as you know 

18          saved a fellow officer's life, EnCon officer, 

19          last November in Columbia County.  

20          Unfortunately, there was a shooting.  

21                 But I wanted to let you know that I'll 

22          be honoring her in the State Senate, and I'd 

23          like to invite you to come when we do it.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Great.  I'd be 


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 1          happy to be there.  She's quite a hero.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  She really is.  

 3          That's the second time she's saved someone's 

 4          life, so I'm really, really proud of her.

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Amazing family.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes, exactly.  

 7                 Thank you.

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

 9                 Thank you all.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, our next 

11          speaker is Commissioner Rose Harvey, from the 

12          New York State Office of Parks, Recreation 

13          and Historic Preservation.

14                 Welcome, Commissioner.

15                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We're very happy to 

17          have you here today, and we look forward to 

18          your testimony.  So any time you're ready.

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Okay.  I'm all 

20          set.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Could you bring the 

22          mic closer, please?

23                 Could we also take the conversations 

24          outside, please.


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 1                 Go ahead.

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Good morning, 

 3          Chairwoman Young, Chairman Farrell, Senator 

 4          Funke, Assemblyman O'Donnell of the Tourism 

 5          and Parks Committees, and distinguished 

 6          members of the State Legislature.  And thank 

 7          you for inviting me to discuss Governor 

 8          Cuomo's Executive Budget proposal.  

 9                 And I have here with me Andy Beers, 

10          executive deputy commissioner.  And we both 

11          together represent an amazing staff behind us 

12          and also in the field.

13                 As commissioner of the Office of 

14          Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 

15          I oversee New York's outstanding system of 

16          more than 250 individual state parks, 

17          historic sites, boat launches and 

18          recreational trails.  As many of you know, 

19          your constituents have a great sense of pride 

20          and ownership in their park system.  It is 

21          one of the most esteemed institutions of our 

22          state government, where New Yorkers of all 

23          ages and backgrounds come together for fun 

24          and friendship, learning and healing, to 


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 1          experience New York's great outdoors and 

 2          history, and build mind and muscle.  And as 

 3          Olmsted noted, our parks are America's and 

 4          New York State's great melting pots.  

 5                 Thanks to all of you, and thanks to 

 6          Governor Cuomo's leadership, we're doing much 

 7          to bring people together, revitalize our 

 8          facilities, keep parks and historic sites 

 9          welcoming to all, and provide outstanding 

10          experiences for residents and tourists alike.  

11          The park system again has had a very busy and 

12          successful year in 2016.  Attendance at our 

13          parks, beaches, and campgrounds continues to 

14          climb.  Parks hosted major events, concerts, 

15          festivals and athletic competitions, which in 

16          turn increase the connections, provide a 

17          deeper and better experience for our visitors 

18          and an economic boost to the local economies.  

19                 The 2017-2018 Executive Budget will 

20          help us continue this success story.  The 

21          budget will enable us to maintain visitor 

22          services and continue the progress we've made 

23          renewing our facilities, while embarking on 

24          several exciting new initiatives in outdoor 


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 1          recreation and the environment.  

 2                 The Governor proposes completing the 

 3          Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Erie 

 4          Canalway trails by 2020 to create the Empire 

 5          State Trail.  It will be the largest state 

 6          multi-use trail in the nation.  The state 

 7          will develop 350 miles of new trail to create 

 8          a 750-mile pathway.  The trail will be an 

 9          exceptional new resource for recreation for 

10          New Yorkers, while driving economic growth 

11          and wellness in communities along its route.  

12                 Studies estimate that for every 

13          $1 million invested in multi-use trails, 

14          nearly 10 jobs are created and every $1 

15          invested yields $3 in direct medical 

16          benefits.  

17                 Also, with $120 million allocated this 

18          year, the Executive Budget continues Governor 

19          Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 commitment to invest 

20          $900 million in State Parks by 2020, helping 

21          reverse decades and decades of decline and 

22          neglect.  And thank you all, each and every 

23          one of you, for your support for Parks 2020.  

24                 Since the Governor launched NY Parks 


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 1          2020 in 2012, we have advanced more than 

 2          383 improvement separate projects within 130 

 3          parks and historic sites to enhance, restore, 

 4          and repair public facilities.  Last year, I 

 5          was happy to be out with many of you to 

 6          dedicate many new parks and new openings at 

 7          our parks.  We opened the West Bathhouse at 

 8          Jones Beach; we toured the transformed 

 9          Terrapin Point at Niagara Falls; we opened 

10          the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth; we 

11          celebrated a new partnership with Major 

12          League Baseball to teach and to serve 1,500 

13          youth at Roberto Clemente State Park; and we 

14          reviewed the future gateways to the Walkway 

15          Over the Hudson.  And there are many, many 

16          more in each and every one of your regions.  

17                 The Executive Budget also continues 

18          the historic $300 million investment in the 

19          Environmental Protection Fund to help enhance 

20          our stewardship of the State's natural and 

21          cultural resources.  EPF dollars are crucial 

22          to State Parks to protect and provide access 

23          to the natural and cultural treasures that 

24          are sheltered within our park system.  This 


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 1          includes a proposal to increase the 

 2          investment in the Connect Kids program, which 

 3          is in turn trying to increase the number of 

 4          kids who connect with nature and our parks 

 5          and, in doing so, deepen their appreciation 

 6          and awareness of our natural and cultural 

 7          resources, and in the end will be the next 

 8          generation of natural stewards.  

 9                 Connect Kids provides small 

10          transportation grants to underserved 

11          communities for educational field trips to 

12          our parks and historic sites.  Schools in 

13          every part of the state are taking advantage 

14          of this program, and our school visitation to 

15          our parks is increasing dramatically.  And I 

16          urge each and every one of you to reach out 

17          to your schools to take part in this program.  

18                 Connect Kids rebuilds environmental 

19          and historic education centers and programs 

20          near these communities and these schools that 

21          have little open space opportunities or 

22          educational program opportunities.  It 

23          provides free Learn-to-Swim programs, adding 

24          this to nearly 30 parks last summer that 


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 1          offered lessons to thousands of children in 

 2          communities where free swim opportunities are 

 3          limited or not available.  

 4                 It also offers a 10-month, hands-on 

 5          job training program in state parks and on 

 6          state lands, through the Empire Conservation 

 7          Corps program.  

 8                 And the EPF also provides continued 

 9          funding for the Parks and Trail Partnership 

10          Program, which with our partner, Parks and 

11          Trails New York, we are providing competitive 

12          grants to friends groups that then support 

13          state parks, historic sites, and new trail 

14          initiatives.  

15                 Our agency also administers one of the 

16          strongest historic preservation programs in 

17          the country.  We continue to lead in the 

18          number of listings on the State and National 

19          Registers of Historic Places, which provide 

20          critical protection and incentives to 

21          preserve sites important to New York.  

22          Notable places recognized last year included  

23          the New York State Barge Canal, which, with 

24          support from our partners at the National 


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 1          Park Service and the Erie Canalway National 

 2          Heritage Corridor, was just designated a 

 3          National Historic Landmark.  

 4                 Stonewall Inn was designated by 

 5          Governor Cuomo to be a State Historic Site, 

 6          in coordination with President Obama's 

 7          Stonewall National Monument designation.  And 

 8          our historic bureau takes the lead in the 

 9          nation in designating LGBT sites.  

10                 The Woodstock Festival site was 

11          nominated to the National Registers, another 

12          sign that we remain a progressive leader in 

13          advancing the recognition of diverse sites.  

14                 Last year, the State Historic 

15          Preservation Office reviewed 18,000 

16          submissions, representing almost 8,900 

17          publicly funded, licensed, or permitted 

18          projects, for their potential impacts to 

19          cultural resources.  It's in response to the 

20          growing number of projects reviewed that the 

21          office recently introduced the Cultural 

22          Resource Information System, an online 

23          database which has enabled us to greatly 

24          expedite our consultation process, with 


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 1          average review times dropping significantly.  

 2          We believe it in itself will be a great 

 3          example and a model for the historic 

 4          preservation world.  

 5                 And make no mistake, New York's 

 6          embrace of historic preservation is improving 

 7          the economy.  Federal and State Historic 

 8          Rehabilitation Tax Credit programs have grown 

 9          exponentially, with steady increases in the 

10          number of historic buildings revitalized with 

11          the incentive each year of these tax credits. 

12          Based on recent figures, in fiscal year 2016 

13          our office approved nearly $1.5 billion of 

14          investment in the past fiscal year, roughly 

15          half of which has been invested in upstate 

16          communities, demonstrating that the program 

17          has emerged as one of New York's signature 

18          economic development, job creation, and 

19          community renewal tools.  

20                 So thank you all very much for your 

21          commitment to our magnificent State Park 

22          system and our historic preservation 

23          programs.  As always, I always appreciate the 

24          support, the participation that each and 


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 1          every one of you provide our agency, and I 

 2          welcome your questions.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 4          much, Commissioner.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 6          much.  Sorry I wasn't here, but welcome 

 7          again.

 8                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So I have a 

10          question.  The Governor recommends an 

11          increase of $54 million, for a total of 

12          $208.7 million in total capital funding for 

13          the park system.  And in recent years, we 

14          have done significant increases.  You talked 

15          about a lot of the openings, which I think 

16          were absolutely fantastic.

17                 But can you provide a list of the 

18          projects that are planned for this coming 

19          year?  The Legislature always likes to know 

20          what we're voting on, so it would be helpful 

21          if we got that list.

22                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Happy to provide 

23          it.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Before the budget 


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 1          is passed?  

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  As soon as we 

 3          have it.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That would be 

 5          great, Commissioner.  Thank you so much.

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mr. O'Donnell.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Thank you, 

 8          Mr. Farrell.  

 9                 It's always a pleasure to see you.  As 

10          you know, I'm new to this committee, so I 

11          have a whole bunch of acronyms to learn.  And 

12          I reviewed what you submitted and was happily 

13          but also kind of shockingly surprised about 

14          your $200 million commitment to the trails 

15          plan.  Happy because this is an underfunded 

16          agency for the entire time I've been an 

17          elected official, but shocked because the 

18          second floor, the Governor seems to love 

19          RFPs, because RFPs -- if you control the 

20          inputs, you control the outputs, so you can 

21          dictate where the money goes.  Or if there's 

22          not an RFP available, he loves competition.  

23          So he loves for cities to compete and regions 

24          to compete.  It's all one big giant football 


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 1          game when it comes to spending.  

 2                 And yet, all of a sudden, you're 

 3          dropping $200 million in capital money for 

 4          just one thing.  Now, it seems to me that the 

 5          parks across the state have major capital 

 6          needs and that that $200 million may be 

 7          better spent if it was divided between the 

 8          beaches of Long Island, the Adirondacks, the 

 9          Finger Lakes, the Thousand Islands -- I 

10          didn't forget you, Addie -- none of which are 

11          places I represent, I want to be very clear, 

12          but they're all places that are in desperate 

13          need of some capital infusion because of what 

14          has gone on.  

15                 So my first question for you is, is 

16          there some sort of cost-benefit analysis that 

17          is done before the decision is made to say 

18          let's spend $200 million on bike trails?

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Well, first of 

20          all, the $200 million actually does not come 

21          out of our budget.  And it is coming out of 

22          a -- but the budget, and it will be allocated 

23          between the various agencies that will be 

24          building the trail.


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 1                 And the way to think about it is it's 

 2          a trail that will be built over three, 

 3          three and a half years, so it's about 

 4          $50 million a year, and it's the completion 

 5          of the Erie Canal Trail.  And it's the 

 6          completion of the Greenway Trail, the Hudson 

 7          River Greenway.  

 8                 And the trail goes through 27 

 9          counties, and it touches dozens and dozens 

10          and dozens of towns.  And it is a -- in every 

11          place it is completed, the individual towns 

12          have been trying to complete it but unable to 

13          do so because maybe it crossed jurisdiction.  

14                 And it also goes to many, many 

15          historic and park and destination points that 

16          also will be both great for the economy but 

17          also an actual literal connection in the Path 

18          through History or the Path to the 

19          Environment.

20                 So it's -- and paths of this size, 

21          because we're finishing what's 50 percent 

22          already done in the Hudson River Greenway -- 

23          and the Hudson River Greenway will do that 

24          portion; the Canalway will do the other 


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 1          portion.  And you will never finish trails 

 2          like this in this day and age unless you 

 3          compress it and do it all at one time.

 4                 So I am also -- it keeps intact all of 

 5          our other money that we are using out of 

 6          Parks 2020 to do all the other improvements 

 7          and all the trail money that is available, so 

 8          it doesn't siphon out --

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Well, no, but 

10          it's a choice.  It doesn't siphon out.  You 

11          could choose -- one could choose to do it 

12          somewhat differently.  

13                 And I had the bike and trail people in 

14          my office, and they gave me the same exact 

15          presentation.  But the reality is there are 

16          capital needs throughout the state in the 

17          parks, and some of those places may in fact 

18          be better multipliers of money than this 

19          particular one.

20                 One of the complaints that was raised 

21          in the meeting was that Amtrak, for example, 

22          doesn't allow bikes on their trains, and they 

23          allow the bikes on the trains in California.  

24          Well, okay, that's a federal thing.  We can't 


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 1          fix the Amtrak problem.  But in the end, is 

 2          the spending of one dollar of capital on this 

 3          project versus one dollar on capital to help 

 4          Robert Moses State Park, just as an example 

 5          -- and what does that mean in terms of the 

 6          fees that it generates and the interest that 

 7          it generates in other places in the state?  

 8                 And so I don't think we can look at it 

 9          just as is this a good or a bad idea.  I 

10          think we have to look at it from the 

11          perspective of is the whole -- is that the 

12          best use of every dollar that's committed to 

13          it, regardless of where the money comes from.  

14                 As you probably know, I'm very 

15          concerned and supportive of historic 

16          preservation.  I want to publicly thank you 

17          and your office for helping me trying to get, 

18          finally, a historic district where I live, 

19          Morningside Heights.  I had a staffer who 

20          spent many, many hours working with your 

21          staff to help get us further down the path, 

22          and I think it's very important.  

23                 I also think it's very important that 

24          we continue to create more historic sites 


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 1          throughout the state, because New York has 

 2          great history.  There are some right here in 

 3          Albany, there are some in Hudson, there are 

 4          some north in Washington County which have 

 5          been brought to my attention.  And I'd like 

 6          to work closely with you about that.

 7                 Let me ask a provincial question here, 

 8          because everyone seems to do it.  I want to 

 9          talk about funding for Riverbank State Park.  

10          It's technically not in my district, it is 

11          20 blocks outside of my district, but it's 

12          unique because it wasn't built for its 

13          beauty, it was built because -- in exchange 

14          for a sewage treatment plant that was put 

15          beneath it.  

16                 And so I would like you to talk a 

17          little bit about the funding problems that 

18          you've had and get your commitment to address 

19          those funding commitments, because in 

20          contrast to everywhere else, it's not just 

21          there, it's there because the community has 

22          the negative health impacts of living with a 

23          sewage treatment plant in their neighborhood.

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Riverbank State 


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 1          Park is a flagship for the New York State 

 2          park system and actually was the first park 

 3          that we went in to improve when the first 

 4          $90 million was made available.  And it was 

 5          the first time in 40 years that State Parks 

 6          had ever been in the capital budget in a 

 7          regular and consistent fashion.  

 8                 And I think as Chairman Farrell knows, 

 9          it was a mess.  You know the track, the 

10          field, the gym, everything was closed.

11                 So it was the first investment.  We 

12          fixed the gym, the floor, we've opened the 

13          track, we fixed the fields, we fixed the ice 

14          skating rink that was inaccessible.  And 

15          we're this year fixing the entrances, the 

16          chiller -- which is the infrastructure to the 

17          ice skating rink -- for future years, many, 

18          many years.  We're building a greenhouse for 

19          a community garden program with the kids in 

20          the community.  And it's a pleasure to see 

21          the difference.  And there's more to go, but 

22          a lot has been done.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  And I 

24          appreciate that.  I want you to continue 


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 1          that --

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  -- even though 

 4          it's not in my district.

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Okay.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  The last 

 7          question, the last area, is something that 

 8          I've raised with you before.  As you're 

 9          aware, there was a massacre of gay and 

10          lesbian people in Orlando.  Apparently that 

11          message never got to Washington, D.C., they 

12          think it happened in Bowling Green, but 

13          that's okay.  It happened in Orlando.  And 

14          the Governor pledged to build a memorial to 

15          do that.

16                 So my first question is, were any of 

17          the LGBT state elected officials asked to 

18          serve on the board of this memorial?  

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  The -- the 

20          commission -- I came in the -- I don't know 

21          the background of the selection of the 

22          commission.  But there are not -- the main 

23          representatives are from the not-for-profits 

24          and community representatives.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Did you make 

 2          those decisions, or did somebody else make 

 3          those decisions, who would serve in that 

 4          capacity?  

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I think that it 

 6          was with the Governor and Alphonso David, 

 7          who's the chair and very well could have 

 8          talked to the electeds.  But I have also met 

 9          with many and talked to many of the electeds 

10          as we progress with this memorial.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  And what is 

12          the status of that memorial, if you know?  

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  The status of 

14          the memorial is that we have a potential 

15          site, which is in the Hudson River Park.  

16          It's between Bethune and 12th.  And we had a 

17          competition, a very public competition, and 

18          about 40 contestants who submitted.  And the 

19          commission reviewed all of the submissions 

20          and made recommendations to the Governor, and 

21          there's a report to the Governor at this 

22          point.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  When will that 

24          become public?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  That will be 

 2          public probably when he makes a decision and 

 3          decides on what the next steps are.  And the 

 4          next steps, whatever they are, will include, 

 5          you know, full community participation.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  I loathe to go 

 7          over my time.  Thank you very much.

 8                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I loathe it too, so 

10          thank you very much.

11                 (Laughter.)

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Just kidding.

13                 Our next speaker is Senator Kaminsky.

14                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Good afternoon, 

15          Commissioner.  I'm from the South Shore of 

16          Long Island, and the vast majority of my 

17          constituents will be visiting Jones Beach 

18          State Park for one reason or another.  And 

19          one of the families in my district had a 

20          terrible tragedy in 2015 where a gentleman 

21          named Mr. Mullady left a concert at Jones 

22          Beach, was on the parkway leaving, and 

23          suffered a heart attack.  His wife called 

24          911, and an ambulance responded 18 minutes 


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 1          later.  And he had passed in that duration.

 2                 And so people in my district and the 

 3          surrounding areas are very troubled about 

 4          what they see as a lack of emergency response 

 5          in that area.  I've taken the opportunity to 

 6          show you, in a map, this area.  And what you 

 7          can see is that on the bottom, where Jones 

 8          Beach is, is a good approximately six miles 

 9          from the volunteer ambulance services that 

10          are supposed to service the routes in and out 

11          of Jones Beach State Park.  

12                 And, you know, my personal opinion is 

13          that that is, you know, just completely 

14          hazardous for the people that we invite 

15          there.  I certainly know that we have many of 

16          my colleagues from around the state who have 

17          miles and miles to travel before, you know, 

18          the nearest fire department or hospital.  But 

19          we're inviting tens of thousands of people to 

20          come to Jones Beach State Park for the air 

21          show, for concerts, for weekends on the 

22          beach.  So to know that we may not have 

23          enough Park Police to service the area is 

24          obviously troubling.  And I wanted to know if 


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 1          you were aware of this issue and what you 

 2          might be doing to help address the lack of 

 3          emergency personnel in that area.

 4                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I am aware of 

 5          that tragic situation, and we have looked 

 6          into our emergency medical responses.  And, 

 7          you know, we have and have trained-- we have 

 8          232 lifeguards that are trained, and many on 

 9          duty in and around that time, and we have 

10          about 25 emergency technicians.  And we have 

11          20 AEDs, automated external defibrillators.  

12          But really what's most important is that then 

13          we have a partnership with Nassau County and 

14          its fire and its ambulance department.

15                 And so when we looked at all of this, 

16          we have begun conversations with 

17          Nassau County about keeping more ambulances 

18          and more personnel on-site, particularly at a 

19          concert, because right now they're there from 

20          7:00 to 7:00, but I think it would be better 

21          if they were there from 10:00 to 10:00, when 

22          the concert gets out.

23                 So we are talking to them about it.  

24          There are contractual issues.  But we are 


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 1          really looking into this to make sure that 

 2          we've got enough coverage.

 3                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay.  Well, I 

 4          definitely appreciate that.  I think you 

 5          focused in on the right issue, which is what 

 6          do we do after 7:00 when we're inviting 

 7          people to come for concerts and yet the 

 8          lifeguards and a lot of the safety personnel 

 9          you have there have left for the day.

10                 I am a state elected official, and I 

11          don't have control over the county.  But I am 

12          under the understanding that, you know, we 

13          shouldn't sleep on this thinking that the 

14          county is just going to take over on this.

15                 So I would really appreciate you 

16          focusing in on this.  And if there's any way 

17          to divert resources, you know, especially 

18          during peak times, it would be appreciated.  

19          You know, I don't think that this was a freak 

20          thing.  I think when you're going to invite 

21          tens of thousands of people to come to a 

22          concert and there are major roadways that you 

23          could see in and out, it's going to be hard 

24          to get to them if we're waiting for a 


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 1          volunteer corps six miles away.  And the 

 2          volunteer firefighters I've talked to would 

 3          love to help.

 4                 So I appreciate you looking to Nassau, 

 5          but I would love if we can get aggressive on 

 6          this and see what we could do.

 7                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Okay.  Thank 

 8          you.  We will do.

 9                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Thanks for looking 

10          into it.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

12                 Chairman?  

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman 

14          Englebright.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 

16          Mr. Chairman.  

17                 Commissioner, how are you?

18                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Good.  Good.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  It's nice to 

20          see you.  

21                 I have a question about the Empire 

22          State Trail.  Does it include any part of 

23          coastal New York, Long Island in particular?

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It does not.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We're part 

 2          of the Empire State, and we would like to be 

 3          included in the trail system, which is 

 4          otherwise a really wonderful idea.

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So we are -- I 

 6          believe that this trail will be great 

 7          momentum for other trails, certainly those 

 8          that connect, those that cross.  And we will 

 9          look into the trail system there, because it 

10          starts in the Battery, and see what we can do 

11          in terms of connecting.  

12                 The connections will be -- won't be 

13          covered in the current appropriation, but we 

14          still have our trail dollars available.  So 

15          they haven't all been siphoned off for this 

16          trail.

17                 So we look forward to make more 

18          connections, because if we can, it will have 

19          a real impact at every part and every point 

20          and every part of the state.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  In the first 

22          part of his second term, President Washington 

23          left from Lower Manhattan and journeyed to 

24          visit, among others, the spies on Long Island 


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 1          who had saved his life and saved the 

 2          revolution.  We have a Spy Trail -- that's 

 3          just one of many of our trails on Long 

 4          Island -- that would make sense to be 

 5          connected back to Manhattan.

 6                 So please put us in your planning now, 

 7          rather than say someday we'll get around to 

 8          remembering about Long Island.  I don't see 

 9          any reason not to include our existing 

10          Greenway Trails.  We have a Long Island 

11          Greenbelt Trail Conference.  We have 

12          ready-made not-for-profits who have been 

13          manicuring trails and telling people to go 

14          take a hike for a long time.

15                 But please don't tell Long Island 

16          generally to go take a hike in the adverse 

17          sense of the use of that phrase.

18                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Right.  No.  

19          We'll encourage to hike forward, yes.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So further 

21          to that, we also I think have the potential 

22          to add to the diversity of experiences that a 

23          trail would have.  We have a couple of 

24          thousand miles of shoreline.  If you add all 


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 1          the crenellations in, it's really extensive.  

 2          We could have blue trails with kayaks and 

 3          canoes into some of our inner harbors.  And I 

 4          think it would add an exciting dimension to 

 5          your wonderful vision and the Governor's 

 6          wonderful vision for the Empire State Trail.

 7                 I also have a question about the 

 8          offloading that we're seeing in the EPF this 

 9          year.  I was encouraged to ask you this 

10          question when I posed it to Commissioner 

11          Seggos.  One of the more notable offloads is 

12          certain local Navigation Law expenses that 

13          are, in this proposed budget, being placed 

14          into the EPF as a capital expenditure.

15                 Now, this is very difficult for me, 

16          because we have a 2 percent cap that affects 

17          all of our local governments.  They are not 

18          allowed to offload into capital anything 

19          that's part of their ordinary operational 

20          budget.  Is this part of what the state is 

21          doing, however?  The state doesn't have the 

22          same restrictions with the 2 percent cap.  

23                 What the impact is, though, of not 

24          being able to get any relief for capital is 


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 1          that we're seeing a lot of capital 

 2          investments at the local municipal level not 

 3          being made.  Because they have a terrible 

 4          choice now, in a tight budget, to either fund 

 5          personnel and basic operations or maybe put 

 6          off for another year the investment for the 

 7          new motor over at the sewer treatment plant.  

 8          And so we're getting a lot of deferred 

 9          maintenance impact on our local budgets 

10          that -- you know, we receive the complaints 

11          on that, but then we turn around and say, 

12          well, you know, just hope you don't notice, 

13          but we're offloading into capital because we 

14          can.  

15                 And that's what this Navigation Law 

16          offload looks like.  It looks like something 

17          that the state can do because it doesn't 

18          follow the same rules that it has imposed 

19          upon local municipalities.

20                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I see these 

21          dollars -- as you know, our agency --

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Commissioner -- 

23          Commissioner, could you use the mic, please?

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Oh, I leaned 


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 1          back.  Sorry.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 3                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We oversee 

 4          boater safety, security, and also monitoring 

 5          of environmental regulations in the natural 

 6          resources.  And we work closely with all of 

 7          our local partners to do so.

 8                 So I feel that this is an appropriate 

 9          part of our responsibility, to go forward and 

10          to help with the local -- the localities that 

11          are patrolling the waters for us, and 

12          patrolling the natural resources, and who are 

13          our eyes and ears to stop dumping and to see 

14          if there are any environmental infractions.  

15          So I think it's appropriate.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  It's 

17          appropriate to be done.  It's just a question 

18          of whether it's appropriate to place it into 

19          the Environmental Protection Fund.  But thank 

20          you for your response.

21                 Mr. Chairman.  

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

23                 Assemblywoman Woerner.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you, 


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 1          Mr. Chairman.  

 2                 Thank you, Commissioner.

 3                 I have a variety of questions.  As you 

 4          pointed outside out in your testimony, you've 

 5          got an expanding number of historic sites, 

 6          you've got an increasing number of National 

 7          Register and State Register listings, you've 

 8          got a very successful tax credit program that 

 9          requires extensive review from your office.  

10          And certainly for all of these projects, a 

11          timely review is important.  And so my 

12          question has to do with the staffing levels 

13          in your historic preservation group, both in 

14          the technical services and historic sites 

15          bureau.

16                 Can you talk to me about the current 

17          staffing levels, how many slots you have that 

18          are empty, and what your plans are for 

19          filling them?  

20                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Any slots that 

21          are empty, we're filling, that have been 

22          vacated.  And that's just a matter of time 

23          and finding the right people.

24                 And, you know, with parks and historic 


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 1          preservation, great growth requires also 

 2          great ingenuity.  In the bureau launch of 

 3          CRIS, the automated digital review system has 

 4          greatly reduced the time frame and the 

 5          efficiency of the department to review all of 

 6          the applications that are coming in.  

 7                 We use partnerships with many of the 

 8          not-for-profits that help us in terms of 

 9          review and in terms of, with the parks, with 

10          you know, park programs, we're also 

11          automating across the parks too, with 

12          entrances and online reservations.  We're 

13          also trying to reduce costs, energy costs, 

14          because they're a big piece of our operating 

15          budget, and that's feeding into the 

16          Governor's alternative energy and climate 

17          change programs.  So that to the extent that 

18          we can introduce solar and wind on our roofs 

19          and in our parking lots, we can reduce the 

20          energy costs that each bureau has to pay.  

21                 And then our staff is amazingly 

22          innovative in terms of efficiency.  And we're 

23          pooling resources between regions, we're 

24          trying to close down silos.  And so far so 


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 1          good.  So --

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  I appreciate 

 3          that.  I'll just conclude that statement by 

 4          saying that historic preservation takes some 

 5          particular skills.

 6                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  And while 

 8          automation can help facilitate efficiency, 

 9          making sure that you've got the right skills 

10          in that bureau I think is really important to 

11          ensure that we continue to have a successful 

12          historic sites program.

13                 My next question is more parochial.  

14          The Saratoga Spa State Park is really a gem 

15          in the Capital Region and throughout the 

16          state.  And I know you've been making 

17          investments or plan to make investments in 

18          upgrading the Peerless Pool Bathhouse.  But 

19          the Victoria Pool continues to be a source of 

20          some amount of concern in my district that, 

21          as a historic building, it requires a more 

22          regular investment to maintain it in an 

23          appropriate manner.  

24                 So in the capital plan do you have 


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 1          plans to make investments in upgrading the 

 2          Victoria Pool?  

 3                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We do.  We 

 4          actually made $500,000 available last year, 

 5          and then we added another $400,000 to that.  

 6          So $900,000.  

 7                 And we have invested in the pool and 

 8          the pool area.  The actual appropriations 

 9          said for the pool area.  And it's -- some of 

10          the historic masonry needed to be fixed.  The 

11          pool actually also, before this, we had 

12          already fixed.  And also the restaurant was 

13          not in code, and the roof was leaking, which 

14          then, you know, caused painting problems on 

15          all the walls that surround the pool.  

16                 So we fixed all of that and actually 

17          invested about -- we're just finishing some 

18          final touches, but we invested close to a 

19          million, and we think we've really gotten 

20          into the infrastructure and solved some of 

21          the source problems.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you.  

23          And then finally I'd just like to thank you 

24          for your support of the Resident Curator 


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 1          Program, particularly with respect to the 

 2          Susan B. Anthony House in Washington County.  

 3          We're very excited to move forward with that.

 4                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you for 

 5          your support.  We really appreciate it.

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Pat Fahy.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  Thank 

 8          you, Mr. Chairman.  

 9                 Thank you, Commissioner.  Thank you 

10          for your testimony.  It's always good to have 

11          you back.  

12                 Just a couple of questions, and I want 

13          to start with the EPF funding.  And I should 

14          start by saying it's been great since last 

15          year.  It was wonderful to see that increase 

16          that is being held this year to that 

17          $300 million.  A couple of concerns on it.  I 

18          know a couple were mentioned.  But one is the 

19          land acquisition, the cut of $7 million in 

20          reduction from the previous year.  

21                 Can you talk about why the land 

22          acquisition part -- what's the rationale 

23          behind that proposed cut?  That's been very 

24          popular up here, particularly in a number of 


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 1          my towns.  Our land conservancy folks have 

 2          really worked with a number of my towns in 

 3          some smart growth initiatives, and that's 

 4          been just a critical piece of it.  If you 

 5          could explain the rationale for the 

 6          $7 million reduction.

 7                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Well, the first 

 8          thing I want to assure you is that we had a 

 9          very robust pipeline this year and we have a 

10          very robust pipeline next year, and that 

11          reduction will not affect any of our land 

12          acquisitions.  And as you know, land 

13          acquisitions, they take about a year or more.  

14          And so now we're building the pipeline.  And 

15          that number was reduced this year, and it 

16          won't affect what we have planned for 

17          acquisition for this year.  

18                 And that number, when you think about 

19          the EPF, of $300 million in those categories, 

20          it can kind of wax and wane as the needs 

21          occur.  And we split that fund with DEC, and 

22          DEC and Parks are fine.  We will complete our 

23          planned acquisitions this year.  And then if 

24          we need more next year, it may, you know, 


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 1          return.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Okay.  I may want 

 3          to follow up with you a little bit more on 

 4          that.  But thank you, Commissioner.  

 5          Appreciate your attention to that.

 6                 Tax credits, the historic tax credits 

 7          that you mentioned.  And it's great to see 

 8          how popular it is.  It certainly is really 

 9          helping just even in our warehouse district 

10          here in Albany.  It's been critical to 

11          helping to bring that neighborhood back and 

12          really assist a number of small businesses.  

13                 You mentioned that about $1.5 billion 

14          has been used in credits very successfully.  

15          Is there more?  Is there something more that 

16          we could be doing there to encourage even 

17          more historic renovation and --

18                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I think -- well, 

19          there's a bigger federal issue --

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Sure, yeah.  A 

21          concern.

22                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  -- which, if 

23          that does occur and it is eliminated, then 

24          that will affect our state credit law because 


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 1          the two are tied.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Yes.

 3                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  But presuming 

 4          that the status quo stays as it is right now, 

 5          it's really basically educating communities 

 6          as to all the benefits.  And we're out there 

 7          talking it up and explaining it.  So anything 

 8          that you can do to encourage people to come 

 9          in, we welcome them with open arms.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.

11                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And the state 

12          tax credit law does sunset in 2019, which 

13          means that soon we should be able to look at 

14          it and evaluate it for the future.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  Yeah, 

16          we're watching what the feds do on that and a 

17          number of areas.

18                 One more question, and just a quick 

19          comment.  I want to commend the Governor for 

20          the proposal on our trailways, the Erie Canal 

21          and the overall Empire Trail.  Despite some 

22          of the questions of our new esteemed chairman 

23          of the Parks and Tourism Committee --

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Just 


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 1          questions.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Just questions, 

 3          that's right.  I had benefit of learning a 

 4          lot about the Erie Canal this year, but I 

 5          also -- while the Erie Canal does not -- the 

 6          trailway does not actually touch into my 

 7          district, the 109th, the multiplier effect in 

 8          terms of what that would bring in tourism I 

 9          think is rather extraordinary.  And as you 

10          said, often for every dollar invested, 

11          there's a $10 multiplier effect.  

12                 So I do think it is -- particularly 

13          the Erie Canal, which I'm much more familiar 

14          with, the fact that there's so little left to 

15          finish that trail and what that could do for 

16          tourism, which is already in the hundreds of 

17          millions.

18                 And I will say I learned a lot along 

19          the trail this year in terms of some of the 

20          pockets of extraordinary poverty in some of 

21          those towns that do abut the canal.  So I 

22          just want to commend you.

23                 Last question, also related to parks 

24          and trailways.  You've been very responsive 


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 1          in the past, including through the Connect 

 2          Kids, for access for youth, particularly 

 3          low-income and urban youth, to get to our 

 4          state parks, which are often in more rural 

 5          areas and not as accessible.  And as I 

 6          mentioned earlier this morning, between the 

 7          cuts in the recession and what had been the 

 8          overtesting of our students, we've seen a 

 9          plummeting of field trips in our schools, and 

10          particularly, again, in our urban areas.  

11                 Can you talk -- you mentioned the 

12          success.  I'm thrilled to see that you are 

13          trying to double that this year.  Can you 

14          give us any numbers behind that in terms of 

15          how many low-income students you have been 

16          able to introduce to our park system?  Again, 

17          it bears repeating, I believe we make good 

18          stewards of our parks for the future the more 

19          we introduce all youth and families to our 

20          extraordinary park system.

21                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Well, first of 

22          all, this was not funded by the EPF.  But we 

23          also launched, in partnership with the 

24          National Park Service, Every Kid In a Park, 


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 1          which was free entry for all fourth-graders 

 2          and their families.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  That's right.

 4                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So we saw about 

 5          7,000 fourth-graders come in.  And then we 

 6          launched the transportation programs with a 

 7          particular emphasis on Title I schools.  And 

 8          we have about 200 applications, 200 schools.  

 9          And just so you also know, that -- I mean, 

10          this goes back some, and we've been working 

11          on it, but we had only about 75,000 school 

12          kids about five years ago.  And it's up to 

13          250,000 now.  Or 230,000, hopefully, to 250.  

14                 And we also -- we mapped all the areas 

15          of high poverty, obesity, diabetes, you know, 

16          health-related.  And so many schools are from 

17          those, so those are the places that we're 

18          building our nature centers and our nature 

19          programs.  So the teachers don't have to 

20          teach, they're not scared to come, we have 

21          the programs.  Or recreational programs to 

22          keep the kids --

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you very 

24          much.  


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 1                 Assemblywoman Jenne.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you very 

 4          much.  

 5                 Hello, Commissioner, how are you?

 6                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Hi, how are you?

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  First I'll just 

 8          start by saying that I'm happy to see that 

 9          the free swim lessons are looking to expand 

10          throughout the state.  I appreciated you 

11          coming up to highlight the free lessons that 

12          are offered in one of the parks in my 

13          district.  And also I'm happy about the field 

14          trips and the efforts that you're taking to 

15          get more people and students into our parks.

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And thank you 

17          for all your support and participation in 

18          that.  We appreciate it.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  But now I'm 

20          going to move really parochially on something 

21          that, you know, has given me quite a bit of 

22          concern.  In last year's budget the Canal 

23          Corporation, the responsibility for that 

24          corporation -- which loses about a hundred 


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 1          million dollars a year -- was moved to the 

 2          Power Authority, the New York Power 

 3          Authority.  And I objected to the movement at 

 4          that time as essentially now a constant drain 

 5          on the Power Authority to make up this 

 6          revenue.

 7                 And so now I see in this year's 

 8          budget, in addition to the long-term sweep, 

 9          if you will, of $100 million to support the 

10          Canal Corporation, we are now sweeping 

11          $77 million from the Power Authority to fund 

12          what appears to be investments in the Canal 

13          Corporation and the trail along the 

14          Erie Canal.  

15                 And so that troubles me greatly, 

16          particularly when I have had projects in the 

17          queue.  I host one of the Power Authority's 

18          biggest generators, up in Massena.  I have 

19          communities that have been in desperate need 

20          of investments in their communities that are 

21          directly impacted by the Power Authority, 

22          that really could use $77 million worth of 

23          investment.  And to add insult to injury, 

24          this trail, this proposed Empire State Trail, 


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 1          just like my colleague from Long Island, 

 2          completely leaves out the North Country, the 

 3          St. Lawrence River Valley, and the Thousand 

 4          Islands region.  Even though one of the power 

 5          dams that is funding the Empire State Trail 

 6          is located in the Thousand Islands region.  

 7          And, like I said, we've had a backlog of 

 8          projects that my communities feel the Power 

 9          Authority should have funded years ago.

10                 And so, you know, we have the Seaway 

11          Trail, which has struggled for many years, 

12          that could use some investment in its 

13          technology and its attractions and what it 

14          has to offer.  You know, just because a 

15          fantastic champion for that trail passes away 

16          doesn't mean that the trail should just fade 

17          into oblivion.  And so, you know, I have -- 

18          you know, I could submit to your office and I 

19          know the Power Authority has already received 

20          all of these requests for funding for 

21          projects that I think are far more 

22          appropriate when we're spending $77 million 

23          of the Power Authority's money.  You know, we 

24          should be funding the projects in the 


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 1          North Country or the trail should be skewed 

 2          to serve the communities that host 

 3          Power Authority projects.

 4                 I find it extremely unfair.  And, you 

 5          know, we had to swallow a nasty pill of 

 6          absorbing $100 million worth of operating 

 7          expenses for the Canal Corporation -- and I'm 

 8          sure that somebody is going to tweet out that 

 9          I'm -- that we need to make this $77 million 

10          of investment in the Canal Corporation's 

11          trail that goes along it.  But frankly, it's 

12          appalling to me that we would be using this 

13          amount of funds to continue to prop it up.  

14          And the argument is going to be made that 

15          it's going to enhance tourism.  Well, 

16          investing in projects in Waddington, New 

17          York, is going to enhance tourism in the 

18          North Country.  

19                 And so I am being absolutely 

20          parochial.  But after we've swept 

21          $100 million a year, moving forward, to 

22          support the Canal Corporation, to add another 

23          $77 million is really more than I can handle 

24          at this point.


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 1                 So I would ask us to seriously rethink 

 2          this proposal, because it is bad for the 

 3          North Country.  And we should be investing in 

 4          the communities impacted by NYPA with NYPA's 

 5          money.

 6                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So I think I 

 7          have to defer to NYPA and the Power Authority 

 8          to talk about this specifically.  

 9                 But one thing I do want to clarify is 

10          the Empire Trail, any money for that is not 

11          out of those sweeps, it's extra dollars 

12          coming in.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Right.  That's 

14          my point.  It's 77 on top of $100 million.

15                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It's not 77 from 

16          the Empire --

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  It says right 

18          here, $77 million in the New York Power 

19          Authority to cover Empire State Trail.

20                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER BEERS:  Those 

21          are general capital dollars that are 

22          appropriated to NYPA and to the 

23          Canal Authority for the construction of the 

24          Empire Trail.  So they are state capital 


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 1          dollars appropriated to NYPA and to the 

 2          Canal Authority.  They are not from NYPA to 

 3          the trail.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 7          Commissioner, for your service to the state.  

 8          And thank you for all that you do.  And I 

 9          would urge you to continue to pay close 

10          attention to Midway State Park, Lake Erie 

11          State Park, Long Point State Park, 

12          Allegany State Park, Letchworth State Park, 

13          and Stony Brook State Park.

14                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Will do.  Thank 

15          you.  

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

18          Commissioner Richard A. Ball, from the 

19          New York State Department of Agriculture and 

20          Markets.

21                 There he is.  Hi, Commissioner.  

22          Welcome.

23                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good to see you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you for being 


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 1          here.  Good to see you also.  Look forward to 

 2          your testimony.

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, thank you.  

 4          Thank you so much.  I was going to say good 

 5          morning, I think I'll say good afternoon --

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  At least it's not 

 7          good night.

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  -- Chairwoman 

 9          Young, Chairman Farrell, Senator Ritchie, 

10          Assemblyman Magee, members of the 

11          agricultural committees, and elected 

12          officials.  I am pleased to offer my 

13          testimony on the 2017-2018 Executive Budget 

14          for the Department of Agriculture and 

15          Markets.  

16                 The Executive Budget recommends 

17          $207 million for the department, a nearly 

18          $37 million increase from last year.  This 

19          budget will allow us to maintain our core 

20          functions while implementing strategic new 

21          initiatives to support the agricultural 

22          industry.

23                 New York State has nearly 36,000 farms 

24          that produce some of the best food and 


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 1          beverage products in the world.  Our 

 2          producers rank high among the major 

 3          agricultural states in the nation, ranking in 

 4          the top 10 in about 30 different commodities.  

 5          Despite the challenges the industry has faced 

 6          recently, both weather and market-related, 

 7          and because of Governor Cuomo's commitment to 

 8          this sector of the economy and close 

 9          partnerships with all of you, we continue to 

10          reach new milestones and move in a very 

11          positive direction.  

12                 I am proud to say there is no other 

13          program in the country like New York State 

14          Grown & Certified, the program launched in 

15          August by the Governor, with me, in the 

16          South Bronx.  Grown & Certified helps 

17          consumers identify New York agricultural 

18          producers who are certified for safe food 

19          handling practices of food and for best 

20          practices in environmental farm management. 

21                 The department, working with Empire 

22          State Development, recently launched a 

23          marketing campaign highlighting the program 

24          and our partnerships with retail stores such 


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 1          as Tops Friendly Markets to promote New York 

 2          State Grown & Certified products.  

 3                 The Governor proposes a $5 million 

 4          grant program to help agricultural producers 

 5          with capital costs needed to meet the 

 6          program's requirements.  In 2017, the 

 7          department will continue to expand 

 8          participation and plans to reach new 

 9          commodity groups like maple, horticulture, 

10          and dairy, helping them also meet the high 

11          standards of the New York Grown & Certified 

12          program. 

13                 Taste NY also continues to grow.  

14          Sales have almost tripled, from $4.5 million 

15          in 2015 to more than $13 million in 2016. 

16          Taste NY products are now available in more 

17          than 60 retail locations statewide.  The 

18          Executive Budget proposes to build on the 

19          success of the program and support Taste NY 

20          through new welcome centers.  

21                 The industrial hemp industry has great 

22          potential also in New York State.  Governor 

23          Cuomo proposes to build on our pilot program 

24          this year, opening the program to more 


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 1          farmers who will work with us to research, 

 2          grow, and process hemp as an agricultural 

 3          commodity.  

 4                 The Governor will also host the 

 5          first-ever Industrial Hemp Summit in the 

 6          Southern Tier to bring together 

 7          manufacturers, farmers, researchers and 

 8          stakeholders to identify the challenges and 

 9          opportunities in the industry.  

10                 The transformation of the Great 

11          New York State Fair will get a boost with a 

12          proposed investment of $70 million to finance 

13          Phase 2 of the State Fair modernization 

14          effort.  This includes $50 million to develop 

15          a multi-use expo building and exciting new 

16          transportation options for visitors and 

17          concertgoers.  An additional $20 million will 

18          be used for parking and highway improvements, 

19          establishing the State Fair as a major, 

20          year-round tourism attraction and economic 

21          driver for the region.  

22                 I am very proud of our Farm-to-School 

23          Program in New York.  We continue to increase 

24          the amount of fresh, local foods served in 


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 1          schools and to connect our farmers to new 

 2          markets.  Since 2015, the state has invested 

 3          $850,000 for Farm-to-School projects, 

 4          benefiting tens of thousands of students in 

 5          New York.  With $750,000 proposed in the 

 6          budget for the Farm-to-School program this 

 7          year -- triple last year's budget -- we will 

 8          predict extraordinary success in getting more 

 9          good foods to our schoolchildren.  

10                 The Governor is also once again 

11          proposing a $300 million investment in the 

12          Environmental Protection Fund, which funds 

13          several vital agricultural programs. 

14          Additionally, the proposed $2 billion Clean 

15          Water Infrastructure Fund provides 

16          $50 million for on-farm source water quality 

17          protection projects.  

18                 We at the department focus on 

19          agricultural education and our next 

20          generation of farmers.  The Executive Budget 

21          includes funding to increase the number of 

22          FFA chapters in the state, and funding to 

23          increase the capacity of the New York 

24          Association of Agricultural Educators to hire 


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 1          and train certified teachers to meet the 

 2          backlog demand for new agricultural education 

 3          programs.  

 4                 This year's budget is great news for 

 5          our farmers, our farm communities, and the 

 6          next generation of farmers, as well as for 

 7          our specialty food and craft beverage 

 8          producers.  I am confident that all of the 

 9          proposals laid out today will leverage the 

10          good work of the industry, building an even 

11          stronger agricultural economy.  

12                 As the development of a state budget 

13          is a partnership with the Legislature, I look 

14          forward to hearing what your priorities will 

15          be.  Thank you very much.

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

18                 We'd like to hear from Senator 

19          Ritchie, who is chair of the Senate Standing 

20          Committee on Agriculture.

21                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you, Senator 

22          Young.

23                 Commissioner, I want to start off 

24          first by saying I very much appreciate the 


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 1          great working relationship that we have, 

 2          appreciate how responsive your staff has 

 3          been, and look forward to continuing to work 

 4          with you on a number of projects that 

 5          certainly will be beneficial to the ag 

 6          industry in the state.

 7                 My first question is, of course, on 

 8          the local assistance programs.  I know both 

 9          yourself and the Executive are supportive of 

10          our number-one industry.  But each year when 

11          the budget comes out, the first thing I look 

12          at is the local assistance programs.  And 

13          once again, most of them are either wiped 

14          out, zeroed out, or they've been greatly 

15          reduced.

16                 Can you explain what causes that to 

17          happen?

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  You know, I 

19          had a chance, once the Governor outlined his 

20          budget to us, to move around the state and 

21          talk about the budget highlights to various 

22          groups around the state.  And the budget is 

23          really a process.  It became very clear to 

24          me, anyway, as I was doing that.  The 


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 1          Governor has an opportunity in his budget to 

 2          make a fiscal statement but also to outline 

 3          priorities that he has for what he sees as 

 4          necessary in the State Budget.

 5                 So the funding of this budget this 

 6          year is the exact same budget as it was last 

 7          year in his Executive Budget, with a few 

 8          exceptions where more money was added.  You, 

 9          all of you, represent constituencies and have 

10          changing needs and demands in those regions 

11          that you represent, and I think the process 

12          is correct for you to adjust that.  We look 

13          forward to working with you on that to 

14          increase those lines that you see are 

15          important, so we can have the best possible 

16          budget for agriculture going forward.

17                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  So I would assume 

18          that means yourself and the Executive would 

19          be supportive in trying to restore these 

20          funds, that you believe that this is a good 

21          use of taxpayers' money to try to make sure 

22          that we're up-to-date and continuing when it 

23          comes to cutting-edge research and a number 

24          of different programs that we've heard from 


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 1          the ag community that they believe are 

 2          important?  

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Look forward to 

 4          working with you on that, exactly.  Very much 

 5          so.

 6                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  One of the items 

 7          that didn't get cut and there is extra money 

 8          for is, of course, the FFA program that you 

 9          were speaking of.  You know, we've had an 

10          opportunity to talk about the language, and 

11          I'm concerned that the language looks like 

12          it's written so that it will be a competitive 

13          grant program.  And I've heard that there are 

14          over 70 potential groups looking to start up 

15          new FFA programs.  I think that's wonderful.  

16          Each and every time the FFA students come in, 

17          so many of them come from outside normal farm 

18          families.  This is a great way to generate 

19          interest for those that are looking for a 

20          career in agriculture in the future.  

21                 But my concern is that those programs 

22          that have been in place and manage to make it 

23          through tough years with education funding, 

24          that they wouldn't necessarily be the 


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 1          programs that would have continued funding.  

 2          So I'd just like to hear how you think that's 

 3          going to take place.

 4                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  Well, I 

 5          think a couple of things about that.  One, 

 6          actually looking at the language, it's 

 7          noncompetitive with regards to the funding.  

 8                 Secondly, over the last few years the 

 9          Legislature has graciously added a 

10          substantial amount of money to help the FFA 

11          program go on.  

12                 But in speaking about the need there, 

13          in speaking about the overall need to 

14          increase the number of jobs and the quality 

15          of workers that we have in our pipeline for 

16          agriculture, the Governor wanted to underline 

17          very much and incentivize the growth in FFA 

18          chapters.  We did hear from over 70 different 

19          schools that they would like to increase 

20          that, that they would like to have FFA 

21          chapters in their schools.  And some of them 

22          had chapters but lost them.

23                 And so I think the goal here is to 

24          incentivize that.  We would hope to work with 


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 1          you on the balance of the funding in FFA, 

 2          certainly.

 3                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  So the increase 

 4          would just be for new chapters that were 

 5          going into -- that were going to actually 

 6          take part in the program, not exclude those 

 7          schools that have already been holding FFA 

 8          chapters and meetings.  

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Correct.  It would 

10          be to incentivize new chapters, perhaps 

11          schools that lost a chapter years ago through 

12          lack of funding.  Exactly.

13                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  This past summer I 

14          appreciate you taking the tour in several 

15          different areas of the state with regards to 

16          the issues we were having with drought.  Just 

17          wondering, as we go forward, there are still 

18          some farmers across the state who are dealing 

19          with losses because of the drought.  Any 

20          ideas that you might have that would help us 

21          address the drought losses with those 

22          farmers, whether it be in the North Country, 

23          Western New York, Finger Lakes?

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  You know, the 


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 1          irony is not lost on me that you and I 

 2          visited in Schoharie Valley in 2011, in 

 3          September, after Hurricane Irene came through 

 4          and devastated our community.  And then last 

 5          summer we were in your neighborhood -- and 

 6          indeed I was all across the state -- looking 

 7          at the effects of drought.

 8                 So clearly we're facing some 

 9          challenges in agriculture.  I think in our -- 

10          we have a line now of climate resiliency.  We 

11          have $2.5 million dedicated there.  There's 

12          three tracks there.  One of them is for 

13          manure management, nutrient management on 

14          farms; another one of them is -- you know, 

15          three of the tracks deal with water 

16          management and drought resiliency as well as 

17          flood mitigation.  So I think there's a 

18          source of funds there where we could look at 

19          developing irrigation systems and things like 

20          that for farms that had a tough time with the 

21          drought this year.

22                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  I think it would be 

23          helpful, given some of the feedback that I 

24          had received from farmers, if we could find 


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 1          ways to use some of that money to look at 

 2          alternative water sources if we get into that 

 3          situation again.  Besides the additional 

 4          costs for hauling water, it was very 

 5          difficult for them to find additional water 

 6          sources.  So that would be helpful.

 7                 Then moving on, you did address the 

 8          State Fair.  But as far as the capital last 

 9          year for our local fairs, there was 

10          $5 million that was included in the budget.  

11          And I know there was just a release about 

12          that.  Could you give me an update on where 

13          we're at with the local fair capital funding?  

14                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  It was a 

15          $5 million investment in county fairs.  

16          Letters have gone out to all of the ones that 

17          qualify, all of the county fair organizations 

18          around the state.  

19                 I would expect that by this spring -- 

20          we should have shovels in the ground this 

21          spring.  They're submitting their plans, and 

22          they're under review this winter.  I think by 

23          this spring we should have shovels in the 

24          ground.  If they have an aggressive plan, I 


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 1          think they have up to five years to spend all 

 2          of the money.

 3                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  And my last question 

 4          would be on the minimum wage.  That's just 

 5          taken effect, the increase.  Just wondering, 

 6          since I have heard from a number of farmers 

 7          across the state on the negative impact that 

 8          it's having on their business, just wondering 

 9          on your end what have you heard from farmers 

10          across the state on the increase in minimum 

11          wage?

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, of course 

13          anecdotally I hear from time to time about 

14          it.  You know, our farmers are incredibly 

15          resilient.  They had a heck of a year last 

16          year.  The minimum wage just did go up on 

17          December 31st, up 70 cents.  

18                 We do have, I would point out, two 

19          credits there.  We have a farmworker tax 

20          credit that farms can apply for for workers 

21          that work more than 500 hours in the year.

22                 We were also successful, in my 

23          conversations with the commissioner of the 

24          Department of Labor, in getting a New York 


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 1          Youth Jobs tax credit to help young people 

 2          get positions on farms.  There's a credit 

 3          there as well.

 4                 I think that as we go forward, from my 

 5          standpoint, our farmers deal with fixed costs 

 6          every year, and sometimes those change.  The 

 7          cost of energy and the cost of labor 

 8          certainly are significant there, the cost of 

 9          infrastructure needs and replacements.  And 

10          then the double whammy last year, for 

11          example, of market and weather affects them.  

12          But they're incredibly resilient.  Every year 

13          we figure out how to juggle things and how to 

14          make it all work.

15                 So I think, keeping in the context of 

16          all of this, I know farmers across the state, 

17          the vast majority of them far exceed the 

18          minimum wage in their pay to their workers, 

19          with the average wage on farms today being 

20          close to $12 an hour.  So I think they 

21          understand that investment in their workers 

22          is an investment well made, and they want to 

23          keep them.  

24                 But for me, at the Department of Ag 


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 1          and Markets, our efforts have to be focused 

 2          on what we can do to increase our market 

 3          share, to increase our market opportunities 

 4          in the city and around the country, and also 

 5          promoting New York Grown & Certified, so 

 6          hopefully we establish a preference for our 

 7          products and a better margin there.  

 8                 So that's what our focus is going to 

 9          be on in helping our farmers become more 

10          profitable.  

11                 Thank you.  

12                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you, 

13          Commissioner.  And just once again, I do 

14          appreciate the responsiveness from yourself 

15          and your office, and certainly appreciate the 

16          time you spent going out and visiting farms 

17          across the state who are dealing with the 

18          drought conditions.

19                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you very 

20          much, Senator.  Great to work with you.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

22                 Chairman Magee.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Yes.  

24          Commissioner, great to see you.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Assemblyman, great 

 2          to see you.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Bring up your 

 4          microphone.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  A couple or three 

 6          questions, maybe, here.  What are the 

 7          department's priorities in agricultural 

 8          education, marketing and research?

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, of course 

10          our efforts with FFA are really notable.  

11          This was the 100th anniversary of the 

12          legislation that enabled FFAs to really take 

13          off and grow in ag education in the country.  

14          I had the opportunity to speak to the FFA 

15          group here this week as they celebrated that 

16          hundredth-year anniversary.  

17                 So getting, I think, more young people 

18          into the pipelines, more ag educators, and 

19          more young people thinking about selecting 

20          agriculture as a viable career path I think 

21          is clearly a priority this year.

22                 Also, with regards to marketing, the 

23          New York Grown & Certified program.  You 

24          know, I've been pretty excited about 


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 1          marketing.  You know, that is the key for us 

 2          selling more products in the marketplace.  I 

 3          think this one touches a nerve in the 

 4          marketplace, because we've seen an increase 

 5          in the desire for local food, an interest in 

 6          understanding where the food came from, how 

 7          it was grown, an interest in food safety and 

 8          transparency and also, in the vein of knowing 

 9          who we are, what our environmental 

10          responsibilities look like on the farm.  

11                 So I think with this program we tie 

12          all those three together -- local food and 

13          food safety as well as environmental 

14          stewardship -- and I think it's a winner.  

15          And it's off to a great start, so I'm very 

16          excited about that opportunity.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Now, on the 

18          education program proposal that the Governor 

19          has put forth, there's $380,000 for Ag in the 

20          Classroom, an increase of 300,000 over 

21          2016-2017.  Can you describe this program?

22                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, we're 

23          developing the guidelines as we speak.  I 

24          think we're all somewhat familiar with the 


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 1          potential for ag in the classroom.  But we're 

 2          going to work with Cornell, who runs that 

 3          program.  Obviously we'll await the budget 

 4          being passed, develop the guidelines.

 5                 But I think what we're hoping to do is 

 6          connect, again, with school-age children, 

 7          which very much dovetails with our 

 8          Farm-to-School Program, to let people 

 9          understand at an early age the importance of 

10          eating healthy and eating locally, and that 

11          there are opportunities in agriculture.  And 

12          certainly we hope along the way to have 

13          better health outcomes.  So I think making ag 

14          in the classroom a little more vital, 

15          especially to our schoolchildren, is the way 

16          to go.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  The FFA funding is 

18          going to be used to help schools create a 

19          program?

20                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah, we've had, I 

21          think, at least 70 requests from schools who 

22          had possibly had a program in the past and 

23          lost it, or never had one, who have an 

24          interest in establishing one.  


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 1                 So again, that planting of the seed of 

 2          the opportunity for a career in agriculture 

 3          is so important.  And as I get around the 

 4          state and I visit our agricultural 

 5          businesses, our processing facilities, the 

 6          need for more workers, more skilled workers, 

 7          a higher level of training -- you know, we do 

 8          an excellent job when we get people at our 

 9          land grant system -- we get them at Cornell, 

10          we get them at SUNY Cobleskill, et cetera.  

11          We do a great job educating them and 

12          preparing them for a career in agriculture.  

13          But we need to get more of these young people 

14          in the pipeline choosing this option.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Okay.  The farm 

16          viability, the Governor proposed a cut.  Do 

17          you have any feeling for what kind of impact 

18          that might have?  

19                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, he's 

20          proposing the same level of funding as he did 

21          in last year's Executive Budget.  You 

22          graciously added a substantial amount.  I was 

23          able to find some federal funding also to add 

24          to that.  


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 1                 I think it's a great program.  I like 

 2          it especially because it's farmer-managed.  

 3          They work in close contact with and 

 4          partnership with our land grant universities 

 5          to look at the right kinds of research that 

 6          we need on a farm to help farms be viable.  

 7          So I think it's a good program.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Another area, the 

 9          Cornell rabies program, was reduced from 

10          $610,000 to $50,000, and North Country 

11          low-cost rabies was reduced entirely.  What 

12          effect will reductions in rabies funding have 

13          on the amount of research and testing done, 

14          and what effect will it have on rabies safety 

15          across the state?

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, clearly 

17          rabies is a concern not just for farmers but 

18          for everyone.  So, you know, the Governor put 

19          in the same amount of monies in that 

20          direction as he did last year.  You were 

21          wonderful, the Legislature, in adding to it.  

22          I would hope we'd have conversations about 

23          that as we go through the budget process.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  One other area 


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 1          that the Governor has cut is the migrant 

 2          workers program.  Childcare for migrant 

 3          workers was reduced by $1 million from last 

 4          year.  What impact will reducing funding for 

 5          childcare for migrant workers have on the 

 6          agriculture sector?  Does the department feel 

 7          that the program does not need to be 

 8          additionally funded?

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  The funding for 

10          ABCD is continued at $9 million.  You added a 

11          million dollars.  And some of their funding 

12          also comes from the Office of Children and 

13          Families.  

14                 But again, the Governor has lined it 

15          out at the same amount, and we would hope to 

16          have a conversation about that as we go 

17          through the process.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Thank you, 

19          Commissioner.

20                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you, 

21          Assemblyman.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

23                 Senator?  

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Kaminsky.


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 1                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Good afternoon, 

 2          Commissioner.  

 3                 On the South Shore of Long Island 

 4          there was a pretty notorious scandal recently 

 5          involving animal abuse, where there was a dog 

 6          trainer who someone took an undercover video 

 7          of him aggressively jabbing a caged dog.  I 

 8          actually have a picture of it here so you 

 9          could see what people were seeing on their 

10          televisions at night, and it really brought 

11          shock and awe to a lot of people in the area.  

12                 And a lot of them came to me with the 

13          question, how is it that people hold 

14          themselves out as professional dog trainers 

15          if there is no such licensing scheme?  And 

16          when I began to talk to people about this, 

17          you know, obviously people's pets are 

18          extensions of their families, if not outright 

19          parts of their families.  And they thought 

20          that they were giving loved ones over to 

21          people who had some type of professional 

22          training or had some type of oversight where 

23          someone was looking to make sure that they 

24          were compliant with some type of standard.  


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 1          And they were shocked to see none existed.  

 2                 So I've put in legislation that would 

 3          have Ag and Markets do that.  But certainly 

 4          there's a lot that you could do, short of 

 5          legislation, in terms of getting involved in 

 6          this area and whatever that may mean to you 

 7          in terms of making sure that this is not 

 8          happening.

 9                 So I just wanted to ask if you were 

10          aware of it and see if you had any ideas that 

11          would be able to protect our beloved pets.

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah, nothing will 

13          strike at somebody's heart quicker than 

14          watching that.  You know, no animal, no dog, 

15          certainly, or any animal, deserves to be 

16          treated cruelly.  And we do have laws to that 

17          effect.

18                 Currently our jurisdiction doesn't 

19          cover obedience training facilities unless 

20          they board the animals.  Or grooming 

21          facilities, for that matter.  So I'm not sure 

22          whether the jurisdiction would lie with the 

23          Secretary of State or not.  I'd have to look 

24          into that.  


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 1                 We do monitor shelters and breeders, 

 2          and we do work with that population to make 

 3          sure there is sanitation and appropriate 

 4          safety measures, et cetera, in place there.

 5                 Enforcement of any challenges is done 

 6          by local law enforcement or local ASPCA.  I'd 

 7          be happy to speak with you about that, 

 8          because one of our efforts that we have 

 9          ongoing is working with the ASPCA as well as 

10          criminal justice to help identify what the 

11          standards should be, what they look like, and 

12          educating them on when they see animal 

13          cruelty.  But I'd be happy to speak with you 

14          further about that.

15                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  No, I appreciate 

16          that.  And I think the whole idea behind any 

17          regulatory scheme would be to do something so 

18          we're not at the point where the ASPCA and 

19          animal cruelty is being discussed, so that 

20          people know, you know, where the line is and 

21          who has met some sort of rigor that they are 

22          allowed to be given your animal.  

23                 So I'd love you to explore the 

24          boundaries of your jurisdiction and what you 


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 1          think could be done all in the name of 

 2          protecting our pets.

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Understood.  Thank 

 4          you, sir.

 5                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Thank you for your 

 6          time.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 8                 Assemblywoman Jenne.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Good afternoon, 

10          Commissioner.  How are you?

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good afternoon.  

12          Great to see you.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I have a quick 

14          question about Taste NY before I get into the 

15          meat of what I want to talk about.  That's a 

16          $1.1 million line item.  Is that for capital 

17          or to start up new stores, or is that to 

18          cover operating expenses of these stores?

19                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Generally, 

20          operating expenses, up and getting the 

21          program working and facilitated in the area.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  All right.  I 

23          assume we're looking at these stores to make 

24          sure that they at least break even, or else 


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 1          they wouldn't make sense to be operating it.  

 2          I drive by one on the Thruway every week 

 3          that's closed, has closed signs on it.  So 

 4          I'm just wondering, you know, if that program 

 5          is working optimally at this point or if we 

 6          should take a look at that.

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  You know, it's 

 8          working exceedingly well.  I'm not sure what 

 9          you're driving by.  We should talk about 

10          that.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  It's at a lock.

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay.  E-13?  

13          That's seasonal.  Yeah, that one is seasonal.  

14          That -- that's a new one.  It's actually kind 

15          of a nice story because that's operated by 

16          the Montgomery County ARC.  It's a 

17          heartwarming story.  They're doing a 

18          marvelous job there.

19                 But it's located next to the lock on 

20          the Erie Canal.  And that's why, there's a 

21          seasonality there.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  All 

23          right, thank you.  

24                 I'd also like to join the concern of 


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 1          my colleague Senator Ritchie about the local 

 2          assistance programs being lined out.  We have 

 3          the North Country Farm-to-School program, 

 4          which I thought is a perfect complement to 

 5          the Governor's Farm-to-School Program.  He 

 6          pays for training and equipment, primarily, 

 7          in your budget.  But this actually gets money 

 8          to the schools so that they can purchase food 

 9          from farmers.  So I hope that we'll be able 

10          to have a discussion about increasing the 

11          role of that type of program to ensure that 

12          farmers are able to sell to the markets at 

13          our schools.

14                 But the bulk of what I really would 

15          like to talk about is -- oh, I also have a 

16          little note here that the Jefferson County 

17          Fair is the longest continuously operating 

18          fair, and they're celebrating their 200th 

19          anniversary this year.  So I'd like to give a 

20          little shout-out for the local fair funding 

21          and also for Jefferson County.  Maybe you'll 

22          be able to make your way up this summer.

23                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yup.  Love to.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  But my biggest 


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 1          concern right now is the plight of our dairy 

 2          farmers.  I know that there are some 

 3          proposals out there for farm investment tax 

 4          credits and for enhancing the minimum wage 

 5          tax credit.  But at its base, my concern is 

 6          that the price of milk is so low that my 

 7          farmers can't even hire a minimum wage worker 

 8          that they probably desperately could use, and 

 9          I'm not sure how they're going to be able to 

10          make a tremendous amount of investment in 

11          their farm with the price of milk being so 

12          low without having to essentially be run by a 

13          bank.  

14                 And so, you know, as we talk about 

15          helping our farmers get to market and 

16          certifying New York's foods and those types 

17          of things, and also looking at the Regional 

18          Economic Development Councils' less than 

19          super stellar record of trying to reboot the 

20          upstate economy, I'd like our dairy farmers 

21          to win the regional competition.  I'd like 

22          them to be able to win the $100 million or so 

23          of economic development funds.  I'd like us 

24          to fund a state premium payment to our 


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 1          farmers for the quality of their milk, to 

 2          help adjust for the fact that they do not get 

 3          paid anywhere close to what it costs to 

 4          produce milk, that we know is a very 

 5          important part of anyone's diet.

 6                 I think we should be looking at a 

 7          quality premium that allows our farmers to 

 8          compete.  I can't expect them to be able to 

 9          invest in their farms or to be sustainable 

10          moving forward and pass their farms on to the 

11          next generation of students that Chairman 

12          Magee and you just had a discussion about, if 

13          we don't do something to stabilize our dairy 

14          farmers' bottom line.

15                 We're at a crisis point.  And, you 

16          know, I think we've been searching for 

17          something that will actually move the dial on 

18          the upstate economy.  When our dairy economy 

19          is doing well, our communities are doing 

20          well.  

21                 And I'm just wondering what your 

22          thoughts are on looking at, you know, using 

23          quality measures to invest in our farms.

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Interesting 


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 1          concept.  Of course, we've used quality as a 

 2          measure through the co-ops for many, many 

 3          years.  You know, it's a perplexing problem.  

 4          It's a difficult one.  And it was certainly a 

 5          double whammy for our dairy farmers last 

 6          year, adding weather to the issue.

 7                 The dairy issue is not just a New York 

 8          issue, it's not just a Northeast issue, it's 

 9          a national issue and, in fact, even a global 

10          issue.  And, you know, they had a couple of 

11          years ago the biggest year we'd ever seen, 

12          the most amount of milk, the highest prices, 

13          better margins.  And it was followed by a 

14          period where our exports dropped by a couple 

15          of percents.  China bought less milk, the EU 

16          had a big year, New Zealand had a good year, 

17          and suddenly we had an oversupply of milk, 

18          which has led us into this difficult time 

19          that we're in right now.  

20                 I talk to dairy farmers every day, 

21          seven days a week.  I come from a dairy 

22          farmer family.  And it's very challenging for 

23          them right now.  

24                 We've taken on a couple of 


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 1          initiatives.  One is -- I meet with the 

 2          co-ops every year on a regular basis now.  We 

 3          reformed the Milk Marketing Advisory 

 4          Committee, where we brought in not just the 

 5          co-ops, not just the processors, but also the 

 6          dairy farmers -- Cornell, experts in the 

 7          area, and consumers -- and talked about this 

 8          issue.  

 9                 I have to say that, you know, the 

10          general consensus of opinion is that we're 

11          still in a good place in New York.  We're 

12          still in the right geography.  We have good 

13          land, we have good farmers, we have access to 

14          water.  And there's something about the 

15          ingredients, the way we mix them together, 

16          that we make awesome milk.  

17                 Surprisingly, the number of cows has 

18          actually been very stable over the last four 

19          or five years.  It's actually that our 

20          farmers are getting more milk from each one 

21          of the cows.  

22                 So we have a crossroads.  We do have a 

23          challenge here.  That Milk Marketing Advisory 

24          Committee, we're going to keep meeting.  We 


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 1          met last fall.  You know, and one of the 

 2          takeaways from that was we need continued 

 3          investment in the processing capacity inside 

 4          New York State to help utilize the milk that 

 5          we produce here in New York State.  I 

 6          couldn't agree more.  

 7                 And I think we have an opportunity 

 8          with the REDCs, as you brought them up.  And 

 9          we have had some success in that regard.  We 

10          have invested a few hundred million dollars 

11          over the last few years towards agricultural 

12          products, through the REDC process.  But it's 

13          something I talk to Commissioner Zemsky about 

14          on a regular basis.  There are some pretty 

15          interesting opportunities about to befall us 

16          here with regards to processing.  But we need 

17          more opportunities to process the milk that 

18          we have here in New York State.  

19                 We have the advantage of being next to 

20          the biggest, most diverse marvelous 

21          marketplace in the world.  We need to take 

22          better advantage of that.  That's investment.  

23          And I've told all our co-ops that, you know, 

24          when they're ready to do something, we're 


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 1          ready to assist them.  And again, I'm 

 2          optimistic that we're going to get out of 

 3          this.

 4                 We do see the price of milk increasing 

 5          here as we go into this year.  It's not going 

 6          to be anything stellar.  It will get a little 

 7          above the cost of production for people.  I 

 8          just think the glut worldwide and the trade 

 9          issues now -- we have additional concerns 

10          about trade.  You know, 25 percent of all our 

11          dairy exports in the United States go to 

12          Mexico, and now we have a question mark on 

13          that trade arrangement.  Last October, I 

14          visited with the Tri-National Accord.  I 

15          represented New York State there, with the 

16          rest of the commissioners from the country, 

17          in conversations about NAFTA with Canada and 

18          Mexico.  Canada is seeking to exclude some of 

19          our products through a new class system to 

20          try to protect their dairy farmers.  We spoke 

21          very strongly about that.  The Governor sent 

22          a very strong letter to the prime minister in 

23          that regard.  You know, we don't need one 

24          less place to go with our milk in New York.  


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 1          And that alone is worth $60 million worth of 

 2          milk just to New York State, that trade 

 3          situation there.  

 4                 So we're watching all of these things 

 5          very closely, as you know.  You have dairy 

 6          farmers in your neighborhood.  But I think 

 7          long term we're going to be okay, and I'm 

 8          hopeful that we can invest in processing 

 9          capacity here in the state as the price 

10          improves and our market conditions improve.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Well, I think 

12          looking at quality and taking advantage of 

13          our gold standard in quality in this state is 

14          one sure way to ensure that our export 

15          markets remain strong.

16                 Thank you.  

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you, 

19          Assemblywoman.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Krueger.  

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon, 

22          Commissioner.

23                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Great to see you.

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So as I frequently 


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 1          say, New York City residents, where I live, 

 2          love to eat the food grown in the rest of 

 3          New York State.  So I'm always very 

 4          interested in what we're doing to expand the 

 5          opportunities.  

 6                 So I think at the beginning of 2016, 

 7          the Governor announced the $20 million for 

 8          the South Bronx Food Hub, to build a building 

 9          to support greater quantities of farm produce 

10          and products coming into New York City for 

11          both institutional sale and smaller-store 

12          sale.  How is that project going, and where 

13          are we in the timeline?  

14                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Contracts, land 

15          negotiations, plans being drawn up.  It's a 

16          very exciting project.  It was really 

17          heartwarming to be a part of that.  I was 

18          with the Governor in August in the South 

19          Bronx, literally in view of the property.  

20          It's been talked about for many, many years.  

21          It was a project outlined in the Regional 

22          Food Hub Task Force, which was co-chaired by 

23          me and the deputy mayor of New York City.  

24                 And this is a 120,000 square-foot 


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 1          facility, a refrigerated space, home for a 

 2          wholesale farmer's market, and really a great 

 3          destination for New York Grown & Certified 

 4          product to be found by restaurants and by 

 5          consumers alike.

 6                 But I think the thing that excites me 

 7          the most about that is, frankly, that 

 8          Greenmarket Co. last year, through their food 

 9          box program in the South Bronx, in parts of 

10          Brooklyn, parts of Harlem, was able to move 

11          350,000 tons of food.  And that could easily 

12          be a million if they had the capacity, and 

13          here's the capacity. 

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Right.  So what's 

15          your estimated time for getting your new hub 

16          up and running?  Which I agree could increase 

17          dramatically the quantity of food.

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  I think 

19          we're going to look at getting the contracts 

20          and the work done on the plans and being 

21          ready to start building here late this fall, 

22          early next spring.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And copackaging 

24          facilities and other farm hubs to help 


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 1          farmers aggregate their food for movement 

 2          around the state -- I know there's a number 

 3          of them that have started.  Have those been 

 4          successful, and can those be replicated?

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  And 

 6          actually that Regional Food Hub Task Force 

 7          was kind of tasked with that mission.  You 

 8          know, what are the market opportunities in 

 9          the city, whether it be Manhattan or Brooklyn 

10          or the South Bronx or Queens, and how do they 

11          need the product, what kind of product do 

12          they need.  

13                 And then, looking upstate, where do we 

14          have the capacity to produce that, what are 

15          the obstacles to actually connecting the 

16          dots?  In many cases it's transportation.  It 

17          may be infrastructure, loading docks.  And so 

18          the food hub in the South Bronx is one 

19          example of the infrastructure needed there to 

20          distribute.  

21                 But also we're going to need it 

22          upstate.  We have a number of new food hubs 

23          that have come online here in the last few 

24          years.  A lot of enthusiasm about food hubs.  


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 1          We had a terminal market system all over the 

 2          state and all over the country for many 

 3          years, and I think reinventing those, making 

 4          them more efficient, learning where the 

 5          production is coming from but, more 

 6          importantly, who's the customer, is going to 

 7          be critical to the success of those food 

 8          hubs.  

 9                 But I'm excited about the 

10          opportunities, I really am.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And we talked about 

12          a while ago my belief that the incredible 

13          cultural diversity of people eating foods in 

14          New York City called for New York State to be 

15          more innovative in helping farmers know what 

16          products would be successfully sold 

17          downstate.  

18                 So one of the examples I gave you was 

19          the fact that there are not enough 

20          slaughterhouses in upstate New York that 

21          actually do kosher or halal meats, and that 

22          when I surveyed in the city, we're importing 

23          our halal meats and our kosher meats from 

24          other states.  And it seems to me we're 


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 1          really missing an opportunity for New York 

 2          State producers.  So I'm wondering whether 

 3          you've had any success in expanding on that 

 4          program.

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  We certainly have 

 6          talked about it.  I had a great conversation 

 7          with you, as you recall, on more than one 

 8          occasion.  I think you're absolutely correct, 

 9          there's markets there that we have not 

10          traditionally sought out or understood.  

11                 And that was one of the goals of the 

12          upstate-downstate summit, was to come 

13          face-to-face and build those relationships.  

14          We like to think of food as being a food in 

15          box business, but it's actually a 

16          relationship business.  You actually have to 

17          have eye contact with people and build a 

18          relationship and understand the quality.  

19          They need to know that they don't have to 

20          look in every single container to make sure 

21          it's what it says it is, and a farmer doesn't 

22          need to worry about whether or not he's going 

23          to get paid for his product.  Those are 

24          relationship things.  


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 1                 And so largely our effort has been 

 2          connecting the dots by building those 

 3          relationships, helping our farmers that 

 4          produce, for example, beef upstate to know 

 5          what the opportunities are, not just 

 6          accepting an auction price.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And then quickly, 

 8          because I'm at zero, we had also talked at 

 9          one time about the state's pollination 

10          protection plan and that there was a joint 

11          task force, I guess between you and DEC.  I'm 

12          curious what kind of progress has been made 

13          to ensure we're protecting our bees and 

14          butterflies so that they can continue to 

15          pollinate and our farmers can continue to 

16          grow.

17                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.  Well, I'm 

18          pretty happy to tell you that I think 

19          New York State has one of the best pollinator 

20          protection plans in the country.  And I've 

21          heard so from several other states and one 

22          foreign country.  We met, we came together 

23          with a plan.  I think we got you a copy of 

24          that plan.  


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 1                 We outlined a couple of things, best 

 2          management practices for our farmers, best 

 3          management practices for our landowners, best 

 4          management practices for state-owned lands 

 5          and agencies, and best management practices 

 6          for beekeepers.  Also we put some money 

 7          behind it last year, and we got some research 

 8          underway at Cornell.  I got a briefing on the 

 9          extent of the research they've done so far, 

10          and it's as we suspected.  It's not just one 

11          thing that's causing the issues, it's a 

12          variety of things.  

13                 And one of the other benefits to the 

14          funding was we were able to invest in tech 

15          teams, Cornell Extension people going out, 

16          visiting with beekeepers, commercial 

17          beekeepers, analyzing their hives, helping 

18          them understand exactly what's going on with 

19          their hives and making some improvements 

20          there.  That was a $500,000 investment in the 

21          EPF.  Some of that was money spent by DEC, 

22          some of it with us.

23                 But I'm excited at the progress.  A 

24          few eyebrows raised at what they're finding.  


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 1          They haven't compiled all of the research 

 2          data yet, but it shows that there's far more 

 3          going on than what some people expected was 

 4          going on.  It's very good research, it's 

 5          cutting-edge research, it's going to be 

 6          nationally recognized research.  So it was an 

 7          effort well spent, and I think we're going to 

 8          have excellent results to show.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you, 

11          Senator.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

13                 Assemblywoman Woerner.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you, 

15          Mr. Chairman.

16                 Thank you, Commissioner.  It's always 

17          a pleasure to see you.

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Great to see you.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  I've got a 

20          number of questions, and I'll start with -- I 

21          noticed that the Governor has included new 

22          language in his budget related to beginning 

23          farmers and connecting farmers looking for 

24          land with non-farming landowners.  Will you 


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 1          need additional staff and resources to carry 

 2          out these initiatives?

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I don't think so.  

 4          We've looked at our staffing and the people 

 5          who were already dealing with the issues in 

 6          the office, and I think between what we have 

 7          here in Albany and what we have in Western 

 8          New York and with the additional personnel we 

 9          have in our New York City office, that we can 

10          be effectively kind of a one-stop shop.  

11                 With that regard, we identified the 

12          challenges there as access to land, access to 

13          capital, access to training in some cases, 

14          but also more importantly, I think for me, 

15          was the opportunity to navigate through those 

16          systems.  Who's got what, where am I entering 

17          the system, you know, I have money I don't 

18          have land, et cetera.  

19                 So I think we're going to be able to 

20          accomplish that and help connect the dots 

21          much faster without additional funding.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Would you work 

23          with organizations like Cornell or farm 

24          groups or land trusts that are already sort 


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 1          of in this space to aid you in this effort?

 2                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Oh, absolutely.  

 3          Absolutely.  We need the land trusts in a 

 4          very big way, because they have a very good 

 5          pulse on some of the land that's available.  

 6          They're very good at land acquisitions.  As 

 7          you know, you've got some very active land 

 8          trusts in your neighborhood in the 

 9          Hudson Valley, and statewide with American 

10          Farmland Trust.  

11                 We've also taken on a practice of 

12          every year bringing in all the stakeholders 

13          that are in that sphere and sitting down and 

14          talking about the process, the system, what 

15          we can do to help it work better.  But the 

16          biggest thing is to have a consistent source 

17          of funding, make it a regular program, and 

18          the Governor has once again put $20 million 

19          in our budget for that.  

20                 I know everybody would like it to work 

21          a little faster.  I agree, but I think the 

22          most important thing is to have consistent 

23          funding and dedication to it so that it 

24          becomes easier for the land trusts, easier 


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 1          for us, but more importantly becomes a tool 

 2          that's in a farmer's mind so that when they 

 3          enter into the process, they're kind of ready 

 4          to go into it.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you.  

 6                 My next question, I'll turn my 

 7          attention to the Taste NY program.  How many 

 8          producers are currently participating in the 

 9          program, and what are your plans for 

10          expanding the number of producers?

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Over 1100 

12          producers last year participated in Taste NY, 

13          which I think is amazing.  And they're local 

14          to the Taste NY store that they're working 

15          out of.  Some of them are big enough to be 

16          statewide, but many of them are local to 

17          where that particular Taste opportunity is.  

18          So we want to continue doing that.  

19                 The Governor's excited about welcome 

20          centers.  I don't know if you had a chance to 

21          get to Long Island to see the Long Island 

22          Welcome Center, but it's absolutely amazing.  

23          That's a tourism and an agricultural 

24          touchstone right there.  And that kind of 


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 1          contact with that many people is just 

 2          extraordinary.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  I think it's 

 4          terrific.  The question is how many -- how do 

 5          the producers connect with the program so 

 6          that more producers can participate?

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  Typically 

 8          in this -- our banner Taste NY operations -- 

 9          Todd Hill for example, the first one that I 

10          got to cut a ribbon on, there's over 50 

11          producers in that area.  Dutchess County 

12          Cooperative Extension manages that.  They 

13          have a relationship with the grower 

14          community, and they're local to that grower 

15          area.  So I think that's the best vehicle to 

16          do that.  

17                 We've had great success with Cornell 

18          Cooperative Extension because they are in 

19          every county and they have the relationships 

20          with the growers.  Couple that with the 

21          New York Grown & Certified and our contact 

22          with producers that meet those criteria, and 

23          I think we're able to find the producers.  

24          And again, over 1100 of them last year.  We 


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 1          sold over $13 million worth of product.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Terrific.  

 3          Thank you.  

 4                 Different topic:  hops and barley.  We 

 5          have an explosion of the farm brewery 

 6          licenses, and the increase in the local 

 7          contents requirement will increase over the 

 8          next several years.  We continue to have a 

 9          dearth of hops and barley grown in this 

10          state, and I -- can you speak to incentives 

11          or supports to farmers to make the investment 

12          in those crops and then, on the other side, 

13          the enforcement to ensure that the licensees 

14          are in fact meeting their requirement to buy 

15          local?

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  It's 

17          exciting to be a part of this.  For me, since 

18          I walked in the door on my Day One, I think 

19          the industry has grown 178 percent.  It's 

20          just mind-blowing.  And we have no idea where 

21          the top of that market is, except that we 

22          haven't seen it yet.

23                 It's wonderful, but it does create 

24          some challenges -- but some wonderful 


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 1          opportunities -- for our growers.  I had a 

 2          distiller come to me and say he wanted me to 

 3          find him 1,000 acres of rye to keep his 

 4          distilling business going.  And we have 

 5          certainly producers who grow rye.  We have 

 6          double the acreage in hops, but we're still 

 7          just scratching the surface of what we need.  

 8          And with regards to barley, we need 

 9          significantly more investment in barley 

10          acres.  So it's a little bit of a learning 

11          curve for a lot of our growers.  

12                 We've been working very closely with a 

13          craft beverage group, bringing in, for 

14          example, maltsters and brewers and Cornell, 

15          looking at varieties and evaluating 

16          varieties.  Before Cornell is comfortable 

17          with endorsing a variety, they need to see 

18          about three years of research to feel 

19          comfortable.  

20                 So we're advancing all of those things 

21          just as fast as we can.  It is creating a 

22          real challenge for us to meet the demand of 

23          this growing industry, but we're feeling 

24          pretty good about it.  Of course, throw in 


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 1          weather, throw in all the other things that 

 2          come at you -- but I think we're in a good 

 3          place.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  I'll just 

 5          quickly echo my colleague Senator Ritchie on 

 6          expanding the minimum wage tax credit to help 

 7          farmers meet their rising labor costs.  

 8                 And I will conclude by saying thank 

 9          you so much for highlighting the importance 

10          of the equine industry in my district this 

11          summer, and supporting the thoroughbred 

12          industry.  It's a big part of our 

13          agricultural economy, and I appreciate your 

14          bringing attention to it and your support for 

15          that.  Thank you.

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you so much.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

18                 I guess I'm next.

19                 Commissioner, thank you for being here 

20          this afternoon.  It's a pleasure to be with 

21          you.

22                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  It's great to see 

23          you.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I want to assure 


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 1          Senator Krueger that we are leading the way 

 2          in New York State in our pollinator 

 3          protection.  The work being done at Cornell, 

 4          which we're fortunate to have in the Senate 

 5          district I represent, is leading the way 

 6          globally on this issue.  And the resources 

 7          devoted last year, a half a million dollars, 

 8          are going a long way to do that.  So I thank 

 9          your department's involvement in that process 

10          as well as Cornell University, and I get 

11          regular updates on that as well.

12                 I also want to thank you for coming 

13          out and touring the drought in the Southern 

14          Tier and Finger Lakes region this summer.  I 

15          am disappointed in the budget to not have any 

16          direct relief in there for our farmers that 

17          sustained these severe drought conditions 

18          over this summer, and I'm wondering if you 

19          can shed some light, Commissioner, on where 

20          you stand in evaluating what losses there 

21          were by a variety of farmers throughout that 

22          region last year.  I know it impacted dairy 

23          farmers differently than it impacted crop 

24          farmers.  Some crops made out okay, some did 


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 1          not.  

 2                 Where are we in evaluating what that 

 3          loss was, and how come there are no 

 4          recommendations in the budget to provide 

 5          direct relief to the farmers for those 

 6          impacts?

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  

 8                 Well, I'm sorry to say that I dug out 

 9          some potatoes in your neighborhood and then 

10          went back to my farm and saw the same size 

11          potatoes.  You know, potato yields across the 

12          state, for example, in many cases were about 

13          a third of what they should have been, a 

14          third to a half.  Size was off in the hot and 

15          dry.

16                 For dairy farmers, I know it was a 

17          double whammy.  In many cases forages were 

18          25, 30 percent of what they should have been 

19          at each cutting.  We saw a lot of grain corn 

20          cut.  I don't have exact numbers on all those 

21          things; those are things that our partners at 

22          NAS -- Ag Statistics -- accumulate, and we'll 

23          have some information on that shortly.  But 

24          there was no question that it was a real 


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 1          challenge.  

 2                 I know that virtually every county in 

 3          the state was impacted by the hot and dry 

 4          weather last year.  Many of them declared 

 5          disaster areas.  And even in the wintertime, 

 6          we're still experiencing drought situations 

 7          of low groundwater tables, et cetera.  But 

 8          we're down to where as recently as a month 

 9          ago, 40 percent of our counties were 

10          suffering and still had some sort of drought 

11          effect.  It's now down to 25 percent that are 

12          affected, and we're getting up to normal 

13          snowfall in this area.  So I don't have the 

14          exact numbers for you.  

15                 I can't date it exactly correctly, but 

16          we will work with NAS, we will work with 

17          Farm Credit on accumulating that information.  

18          Clearly we don't want to do that again.  

19                 Going forward, you know, we do have in 

20          our climate resiliency budget -- there's 

21          $2.5 million there to help with the water 

22          management, irrigation systems, and whatnot.  

23          And our CS has got some funding available to 

24          locate and allocate water sources, resources 


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 1          on farms.  We'll just have to look in all 

 2          those areas as we can.

 3                 FSA basically can't do much other than 

 4          the low-interest loans.  Or if a farm lost 

 5          some livestock, there's some indemnification.  

 6          But it clearly shows some gaps in our crop 

 7          insurance system, especially for the 

 8          vegetable industry.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Wouldn't it be wise 

10          on our part in this budget process to 

11          allocate some resources for that?  Once we 

12          get through the budget, there won't be a 

13          mechanism for us to do that until a year from 

14          now.

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So, you know, I guess 

17          I'm looking to you for some kind of input.

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I don't know whether 

20          that's a wise direction to take or how to 

21          quantify what would be a reasonable amount to 

22          set aside to provide some relief.

23                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  You know, 

24          I've heard some discussion.  I'd be happy to 


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 1          explore it with you further.  I've heard some 

 2          discussion about loan guarantees, you know, 

 3          some farms just need a little bit of funding 

 4          to get through, to get over the hump and get 

 5          back into production.  They're having a hard 

 6          time paying their bills, whether they be 

 7          dairy farmers or crop production farmers, and 

 8          some guarantee function -- that's been talked 

 9          about, discussed.  

10                 I haven't seen any formal proposal on 

11          that, but guaranteeing a loan to help tide a 

12          farmer through is something that's been 

13          suggested, and it's certainly an available 

14          tool for beginning farmers with their 

15          existing banks.  Sometimes it's been 

16          guaranteed by the Farm Service Agency.  I'd 

17          be happy to discuss the idea of the state 

18          doing that, and it would take a little bit of 

19          funding.  But as I think our investment 

20          through our soil and water districts and 

21          climate resiliency and our efforts with 

22          promotion that our soil and water guys are 

23          doing so well is our best current avenue.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  


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 1                 With regards to a couple lines in the 

 2          budget relative to agritourism, I believe 

 3          there's a line in general for agritourism for 

 4          $1.45 million, and another line for marketing 

 5          and advertising expenses related to 

 6          agritourism for $850,000.  Can you describe 

 7          what those two lines are expected to support?

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay.  That's in 

 9          the state operations budget.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I have --

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay, that's a --

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I don't have them 

13          broken out here in front of me, but I've 

14          got -- there was two different lines.

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay.  The 

16          $850,000 one is Taste NY promotion.  

17          Actually, they're both Taste NY and tourism 

18          intertwined there.  

19                 So Empire State Development, of 

20          course, our colleagues over there, handle I 

21          Love NY and the promotion of tourism.  And 

22          the synergy between what we're doing in Taste 

23          NY and what they're doing to promote tourism 

24          around our state -- we actually have some 


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 1          funding coming from three different lines for 

 2          Taste NY.  We have some in our budget to help 

 3          facilitate getting stores up and running, but 

 4          the bulk of the money comes through Empire 

 5          State Development, with the tourism angle and 

 6          the idea of getting more people moving around 

 7          the state.  And to help with marketing.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  No specific criteria 

 9          or programs you're looking at funding with 

10          those dollars?

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Development of the 

12          welcome centers is certainly a big part of 

13          that for Empire State Development.  That 

14          $850,000 would largely be directed towards 

15          the welcome center component.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Are those uses of the 

17          welcome centers something that's permitted by 

18          the federal government and the issue that 

19          we've run into with the signage along the 

20          interstates and certain functions at the rest 

21          areas?

22                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes.  There are 

23          some challenges with the Federal Highway  

24          Administration currently about some of that.  


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 1          Actually, the Federal Highway Administration 

 2          asked for comments about that existing 

 3          statute, which has been on the books for 40 

 4          or 50 years, I think.  

 5                 And, you know, the intentions 

 6          originally for the statute as it exists were 

 7          to make sure that federal highways didn't 

 8          steal business from main streets.  But I 

 9          think we're having quite the opposite effect 

10          with our Taste and welcome centers.  We're 

11          actually driving people to main streets by 

12          giving people a taste.  

13                 And so we did comment, and many other 

14          states in the country did as well.  I raised 

15          it with all the commissioners around the 

16          country about updating that.  In the 

17          meantime, we will comply with the federal 

18          highway rules about it, but certainly 

19          promoting products wherever we have a chance 

20          to interact with people, and in many cases 

21          that's not on a federal highway system.  We 

22          need to do it, and we need to do more of it.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  One last area I'd 

24          like to ask you about, and that's with 


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 1          regards to the State Fair and an allocation 

 2          of $50 million in capital fund appropriations 

 3          this year.  

 4                 Over the last couple of years we've 

 5          invested a lot into the state fairgrounds, 

 6          and that's been important work that's been 

 7          done.  What is the need for this additional 

 8          $50 million?  And, you know, where do we 

 9          stand on what's left or hasn't been spent 

10          from the prior allocations that we've done in 

11          the last couple of years?  

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes.  Well, it was 

13          great to be with you at the State Fair.  And 

14          I think you saw from the Governor and from 

15          some of your colleagues that day that there 

16          was a lot of enthusiasm about the changes at 

17          the State Fair.  By all accounts, it was a 

18          successful investment.  As you know, we fixed 

19          up the front gate and overall changed the 

20          appearance and feel of the fair.  There was a 

21          lot of enthusiasm that day, and he was 

22          encouraged by some of your colleagues that we 

23          should do more.  And he turned around and 

24          looked at me and looked at the county 


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 1          executive and some of your colleagues and 

 2          said, "Well, if we were going to do more, 

 3          tell me what it would be.  If you had another 

 4          bite at the apple, if you had another source 

 5          of funds, what would you do differently going 

 6          forward?"  

 7                 And so we put together a task force 

 8          and we brought in some experts and we looked 

 9          at it and we gave him, the Governor, a report 

10          right about Christmastime.  And he said if he 

11          liked the plan, he would put in the budget 

12          another $50 million.  

13                 He liked what he saw.  We wanted to 

14          continue some of the projects that we had 

15          thought about, dreamed about in the first 

16          phase, which included moving people around 

17          inside the fairground from one end to the 

18          other end, developing more of the New York 

19          experience with the hybrid building where we 

20          could hold horse shows, where we could hold 

21          trade shows, meetings, the opportunity for an 

22          approximately 80,000-square-foot building 

23          that could meet lots of needs, and overall to 

24          have the fair be a resource for Central 


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 1          New York, more than just 12 or 13 days out of 

 2          the year when the fair was going on.  

 3                 He liked that very much, and then a 

 4          very exciting idea of a gondola connecting 

 5          the amphitheater, which is up near the orange 

 6          lot, to the fairgrounds.  Something that -- 

 7          not just to move people around at fair time, 

 8          but something that would become a destination 

 9          and an exciting attraction for Central 

10          New York.  

11                 So coupled with that, our Department 

12          of Transportation came up with some thinking 

13          about alleviating some of the traffic 

14          concerns.  When you attract 1.1 million 

15          people to come visit you in a short period of 

16          time, it creates some concerns, and on 690 

17          those are backups, parking, et cetera.  They 

18          were able to come in with some reappropriated 

19          funds to help alleviate some of those things.  

20                 So overall, over the last couple of 

21          years, we're looking at a pretty substantial 

22          investment in Central New York.  I think it 

23          serves as a platform for the growth of 

24          upstate New York and kind of a metaphor for 


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 1          what upstate investment should look like.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  What portion of that 

 3          $50 million is for the proposed gondola?

 4                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think 

 5          approximately $16 million.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How do attendees get 

 7          from the fairgrounds to the amphitheater at 

 8          this point in time?

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  That's a good 

10          question.  They can walk.  They have put 

11          together shuttle buses to get people up to 

12          the orange lot.  I don't know if you've 

13          parked in the orange lot, but it's gravel, 

14          it's a little bit uneven.  When it rains, 

15          there's a loss of parking areas.  

16                 The amphitheater is clearly a great 

17          asset to the region, and clearly there's an 

18          opportunity for a continued synergy between 

19          the fair and the amphitheater, and I think we 

20          need to capitalize on that.  But currently 

21          it's a little awkward to get back and forth.  

22          We need to make it easy for people so that 

23          it's an enjoyable experience.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yeah, because you 


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 1          pretty much have to cross a four-lane road, 

 2          correct?

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  You're crossing 

 4          690, and it's a hike.  It's over a mile.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yup.

 6                 Have you benchmarked this type of 

 7          spending against other states in the country 

 8          on their fairground premises, and where do we 

 9          stand in where other investments -- states 

10          are making in their state fairs?

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  We have.  

12          Actually, we have one of the top five state 

13          fairs in the country.  I visited three other 

14          state fairs in my history as a farmer.  And 

15          we did bring in a consultant who has worked 

16          with many other state fairs.  

17                 Some of the fairs have taken the same 

18          tack of trying to expand the use of their 

19          fairgrounds like we are doing, and we are 

20          right in line with the kind of investment 

21          that they're doing.  Some states have done a 

22          little less, some have done a little bit 

23          more.  But from my standpoint, to have 

24          invested $120 million in that region is 


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 1          unbelievable.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

 3          Commissioner.  It continues to be a pleasure 

 4          to work with you and your hands-on approach, 

 5          getting around the state very frequently.  We 

 6          do appreciate that.

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Oh, thank you for 

 8          your hospitality.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblywoman 

10          Paulin.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Does this work?  

12          Is it working?

13                 UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE:  Yes, we've 

14          got you.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Welcome.  I'm 

16          happy to be here to listen to your 

17          presentation.

18                 I have just one question regarding the 

19          Fuel NY program.  In the past that program 

20          was funded by NYSERDA, and this year we saw a 

21          transfer of $150,000 to your department.  And 

22          I wondered, is that a new responsibility?  

23          And why -- why the transfer occurred this 

24          year, if not.  


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes, thank you for 

 2          the question.  That's been since, obviously, 

 3          Hurricane Irene and Sandy.  The needs down 

 4          there are unbelievable.  It's been a 

 5          partnership since the beginning with NYSERDA 

 6          to try to find stations, get them the 

 7          transfer switches and the generators that 

 8          they need to be able to service the 

 9          population down there.  

10                 So the relationship with NYSERDA is 

11          not new at all.  The transfer of funds is 

12          just to help us facilitate the generators and 

13          the switches, getting them in place, and 

14          working with the gas stations that are 

15          participating, that have been identified.  I 

16          believe now we're over 900 stations in that 

17          area that are successfully ready to go.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So did the 

19          department bear that cost before?  You know, 

20          what is the -- is there any -- you're saying 

21          that the relationship has been ongoing and 

22          the work has been ongoing, so what's the 

23          rationale for the transfer?

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I'd have to dive 


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 1          into that.  

 2                 Lisa?  Sorry.  

 3                 The funding has not come through the 

 4          department traditionally.  It was intended to 

 5          be short term, thought it would be 

 6          short term, but because it's been ongoing and 

 7          there've been more stations involved -- and, 

 8          you know, then additional funding needed to 

 9          be transferred.  But it hasn't been our 

10          responsibility for the funding.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Krueger with 

14          one more question.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

16                 I ran out of time before.  Sorry, let 

17          me just read this one sentence to you.  

18          Excuse me.  Well, actually I lost it now.

19                 But a recent report by the National 

20          Farm Bureau Institute said that there are 

21          between 1.5 to 2 million farmworkers in this 

22          country, of which 50 to 70 percent don't have 

23          legal status.  Do you -- I have no reason to 

24          believe it's any different in New York than 


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 1          the national data.  So what's the potential 

 2          impact on New York State agriculture if we 

 3          start to see massive deportation of 

 4          undocumented people, a disproportionate 

 5          number of them working in the farm sector?

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  The potential 

 7          impact is very significant.  I believe 

 8          New York is probably representative of the 

 9          same numbers that you have quoted there.  

10                 Unfortunately, because of the failure 

11          of our national government to develop a guest 

12          worker program, we're essentially enabling a 

13          black market in moving people illegally into 

14          the country.  Things are very tough in 

15          South America.  People don't have a source of 

16          income.  Five dollars a day is a wage that 

17          people have gotten used to in some areas 

18          there, and there's threats to their families 

19          from some of the corruption and the crimes 

20          that are going on.  

21                 So this is a real concern.  People are 

22          looking to find a job, any kind of job, to 

23          feed their families.  And so there's an 

24          opportunity to buy a driver's license, buy a 


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 1          Social Security number, and come into the 

 2          country illegally and find a job.  We know 

 3          that that's the case around much of 

 4          agriculture.  Agriculture's actually the 

 5          poster child for this, but it's actually 

 6          largely employment in construction, 

 7          restaurants, and hospitality where the 

 8          biggest numbers of people are.  

 9                 So we need to wrestle with this, and 

10          there needs to be -- and the Governor has 

11          pointed this out on numerous occasions -- a 

12          pathway to legal status for people who are 

13          here, in many cases who came here as children 

14          and have gone to our high schools and gone to 

15          our colleges and are now making a living.  

16                 It's a concern, something that the 

17          country has got to come to grips with.  I 

18          know the new administration has come in, I 

19          know the Prime Minister from Canada is 

20          talking today with him.  Canada has put 

21          together a program and figured this out.  But 

22          we need more workers in our businesses in the 

23          country.  We need skilled labor, and it's a 

24          problem on a national level that we need to 


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 1          reconcile.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  But you agree that 

 3          if we were to lose a mass number of the 

 4          farmworkers in this state, farmers would have 

 5          a crisis with this.  They would have no one 

 6          to pick their crops and get them to market.

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  It would be 

 8          very challenging.

 9                 There's a couple of odd things that 

10          juxtaposition here.  You know, one is that 

11          it's suspected up to 50 percent of the 

12          workers may not have legal papers to be here.  

13          So if they were suddenly not here, that would 

14          mean half the workforce was not here.

15                 The second thing is the level of 

16          unemployment between 18- and 24-year-olds is 

17          18 percent, and to me that's intolerable.  We 

18          need to get our young people working, which 

19          is why the FFA conversation, the Ag in the 

20          Classroom conversation, the continuing 

21          education, getting those people in our 

22          pipeline to find careers in agriculture is so 

23          critical.  So we need to wait and see what 

24          our national posture will be.  But I'm 


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 1          hopeful that we have an opportunity in the 

 2          face of this crisis to go forward.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Thank 

 4          you, Commissioner.

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

 8          Commissioner.  We're all set.

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Oh.  I appreciate 

10          all your work.  Thank you so much.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Next up, we have our 

12          12:30 p.m. agenda witness.

13                 (Laughter.)

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Chairwoman of the 

15          New York State Public Service Commission, 

16          Audrey Zibelman.

17                 (Conversation off the record.)

18                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  I brought lunch.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Should we say, "Good 

20          day, mate"?

21                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Good day.  Good 

22          day.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  You may proceed when 

24          you're ready.


                                                                  324

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  It could be 

 2          worse.  It 4:30 in the a.m. somewhere.

 3                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Right.

 4                 (Laughter.)

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Good afternoon, 

 6          Senator Young, Chair Farrell, and the other 

 7          distinguished members of the committee.  My 

 8          name is Audrey Zibelman, and I'm CEO of the 

 9          Department of Public Service and chair of the 

10          Public Service Commission.

11                 The department, as you know, ensures 

12          the safe, reliable, and affordable access to 

13          electric, gas, steam, telecommunications, and 

14          water services for all New York consumers, 

15          and advises the PSC on a wide range of 

16          decisions, ranging from setting rates and 

17          protecting consumers to siting infrastructure 

18          and reviewing mergers.

19                 Our top priorities this year will be 

20          to continue Governor Cuomo's efforts to 

21          modernize our utility systems.  We are 

22          implementing the Clean Energy Standard to 

23          meet 50 percent of our electricity needs from 

24          renewable resources by 2030, and value the 


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 1          carbon-free benefits of the upstate nuclear 

 2          fleet.  Our utilities are investing in their 

 3          networks so we can use distributed energy 

 4          resources like solar and storage better to 

 5          reduce consumer costs and improve resiliency.

 6                 Our utilities are working with 

 7          municipalities to make street lighting more 

 8          efficient, support community-based 

 9          distributed generation and energy supply 

10          options, thereby lowering municipal costs and 

11          setting the stage for smarter cities.  We've 

12          adopted the state's first ever Energy 

13          Affordability Policy, which will provide 

14          nearly 2 million low-income New Yorkers with 

15          utility discounts.  And we are targeting 

16          clean energy solutions to low-income 

17          households, demonstrating that clean energy 

18          and affordability go hand-in-hand.

19                 That is the essence of the Governor's 

20          Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV:  Using 

21          demand reduction and clean energy solutions 

22          as a core strategy to meeting energy needs.  

23          Past approaches resulted in an inefficient 

24          system.  REV will introduce cutting-edge, 


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 1          modern technology in our utility system, 

 2          which will result in more customer choice, a 

 3          cleaner and more resilient grid, and a more 

 4          cost-effective means to achieve our 

 5          reliability and climate change objectives.

 6                 REV principles have been and will 

 7          continue to be folded into utility rate cases 

 8          as a means to stabilize rates.  In 2016, 

 9          there were seven major rate cases decided by 

10          the PSC.  The utilities requested rate 

11          increases totaling nearly $685 million, but 

12          through the department's rigorous review 

13          process, the PSC reduced those requests by 

14          $245 million, a 35 percent reduction.  We 

15          will also represent New Yorkers at the 

16          Federal Communications Commission and the 

17          Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where 

18          decisions can have profound impact on 

19          New York consumers.  Last month, for example, 

20          we secured a victory at FERC that reduced 

21          energy costs in New York by $160 million per 

22          year.  

23                 The state budget will also provide 

24          rate relief.  In 2014, the enacted budget 


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 1          included a three-year phase out of the 

 2          Temporary Utility Assessment, saving 

 3          ratepayers $775 million through the current 

 4          fiscal year.  On March 31, 2017, the 

 5          assessment will expire, and save ratepayers 

 6          $122 million in fiscal year 2018.

 7                 We will continue to focus on gas 

 8          safety, among our most important 

 9          responsibilities.  We've strengthened our gas 

10          safety regulations, accelerated the 

11          replacement of older pipelines, and will 

12          continue our vigorous oversight of gas 

13          utilities.

14                 As a result of Governor Cuomo's Clean 

15          Energy Standard initiative, applications to 

16          construct renewable energy facilities have 

17          accelerated.  As of January 2017, there were 

18          17 wind farm proposals totaling nearly 30,000 

19          megawatts pending before the Board on 

20          Electric Generation Siting and the 

21          Environment, which I chair.  This development 

22          activity will spur clean energy jobs, provide 

23          new revenues to local governments -- but not 

24          all projects, as you know, are being greeted 


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 1          with open arms.  Our process gives local 

 2          communities opportunities to be heard, and 

 3          our siting rules ensure negative siting 

 4          impacts are addressed.

 5                 In the telecommunications sector, we 

 6          will oversee substantial investment in 

 7          broadband buildout, helping achieve the 

 8          Governor's vision for universally available 

 9          broadband.  As part of our recent approval of 

10          cable mergers, we required substantial 

11          investment in broadband infrastructure, 

12          increasing broadband speeds, and new 

13          low-income broadband programs throughout 

14          New York.

15                 Next year, reforming the ESCO market 

16          will be a priority.  As many of you know, 

17          utility customers can sign up with energy 

18          service companies, or ESCOs, to supply them 

19          with energy.  We have heard complaints from 

20          many consumers and their representatives 

21          about ESCOs grossly overcharging and using 

22          deceptive marketing practices.  

23                 Our focus will be in three areas.  We 

24          are prohibiting ESCOs from serving low-income 


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 1          customers in New York; we are thoroughly 

 2          exploring larger ESCO market reforms to 

 3          better define what services are of value to 

 4          consumers, give consumers more information to 

 5          make better choices, and remove opportunities 

 6          for ESCO abuses; and third, we will hold 

 7          individual ESCOs accountable if existing 

 8          rules are violated.  

 9                 Last year we secured $4 million in 

10          consumer refunds from ESCOs.  We have 

11          revitalized our complaint-handling process 

12          and our public outreach efforts to maximize 

13          public involvement in our proceedings.  Last 

14          year our agency answered more than 

15          60,000 complaints, including more than 

16          53,000 calls.  We received and reviewed 

17          nearly 32,000 written public comments, more 

18          than 600 a week on average.  We held 

19          84 public statement hearings that were 

20          attended by thousands of people.  

21          Transparency and public involvement remain an 

22          integral component of our work.

23                 The fiscal year 2017-2018 Executive 

24          Budget continues support of $87.1 million for 


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 1          operations, $3.04 million for cable TV, 

 2          $5.75 million for intervenor funding, and 

 3          $5.5 million for federal funds, or 

 4          $101.4 million in total.  The full-time 

 5          equivalent position count is expected to 

 6          remain at 520, the same as the current state 

 7          fiscal year.  We are well-positioned to 

 8          deliver our core mission and continue the 

 9          Governor's ambitious agenda. 

10                 This concludes my brief overview of 

11          the key initiatives and budget drivers for 

12          the upcoming year.  I welcome your questions.

13                 Thank you.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

15          Chairwoman. 

16                 (Interruption by protestors.)

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

18                 Senator Krueger has a question.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Good afternoon.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  It's nice to see 

22          you.  Our loss will be Australia's gain.  I 

23          don't know if you're going to like it down 

24          there.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  It's hot, I 

 2          understand.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I'm delighted to 

 4          hear you're continuing your focus, or PSC 

 5          will continue their focus, on reining in and 

 6          limiting ESCOs, because, as you know, that 

 7          has been one of my issues for many years.  

 8          They're ripping off people and increasing 

 9          rates, even as they claim that they're not.

10                 I know that they have countered with a 

11          lawsuit or two.  Can you tell me what the 

12          status of those cases are and where we are?

13                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Sure.  So there 

14          are -- there have been a couple of lawsuits.  

15          So this is what's going on.  So there's one 

16          set of lawsuits that is looking into the 

17          commission's authority to rein in rates.  

18          That's on appeal, and we're pursuing that.

19                 The second set of litigation was 

20          concerning -- and this is not sort of legally 

21          specific, but one of the things that the 

22          commission did was we said that we really 

23          don't want ESCOs to serve low-income 

24          consumers who are on some form of either 


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 1          ratepayer assistance from the utilities or 

 2          federal assistance, because it made 

 3          absolutely no sense to us for low-income 

 4          folks to pay more for electricity than they 

 5          would pay for the utilities because that just 

 6          ate into the subsidy that was otherwise 

 7          available.  

 8                 They sued on that, and they're -- and 

 9          what -- that suit was on a procedural issue 

10          in terms of SAPA.  The commission just went 

11          ahead and reissued the SAPA and had 

12          additional proceedings and ruled on it in 

13          December, but the ESCOs are claiming that was 

14          also inappropriate for us to act, so we're 

15          litigating that.  

16                 In the meantime, we've started our own 

17          administrative proceeding on the portion of 

18          the order about just what are the rules.  And 

19          here's the crux of it.  When the commission 

20          looked at deregulation in the 1990s, the 

21          expectation was that ESCOs would come in and 

22          they would offer services in addition to just 

23          electricity and gas services, things like 

24          energy efficiency or pricing schemes that 


                                                                  333

 1          would give people some budget guarantees or 

 2          certainty.  And we just weren't seeing that 

 3          develop.  

 4                 We also have the real concern to make 

 5          sure that customers, when they're buying from 

 6          ESCOs, have the ability to say, Is this a 

 7          fair price or not?  So we have to look at 

 8          what's a fair reference price.  

 9                 I mean, think about it, we're all 

10          consumers, we go to the drugstore, we see 

11          10 different versions of ibuprofen, we see 

12          the various prices, we can make a decision:  

13          Do we want to buy the brand, do we want to 

14          buy this, do we want to buy that?  But 

15          everything's there.  It's transparent.  

16                 If we go buy a car, we go online now, 

17          we take a look at the car prices, we see what 

18          different people are charging for the car.  

19                 That's where we want to drive this 

20          market, so that we have consumers with energy 

21          literacy, they know what they're looking for, 

22          and we're ensuring as the regulator that what 

23          people are telling people they're charging is 

24          what they're going to charge.  


                                                                  334

 1                 So the proceeding at the commission is 

 2          really to try to get the rules right around 

 3          how to manage these markets.  

 4                 In the meantime, we've been very 

 5          aggressively looking at all the ESCOs to see 

 6          ones that have complaints, to review those.  

 7          And we've also been reviewing all of them to 

 8          see their procedures.  So we're -- it's sort 

 9          of a three-pronged attack.  We're defending 

10          ourselves in court, we're continuing to work 

11          to try to get the rules right, and we're 

12          aggressively going after ESCOs for 

13          misbehavior.  

14                 I want to say, too, that there are a 

15          number of --

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  You know what, I'm 

17          actually going to stop you, only because I 

18          only have five minutes.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Yeah, yeah, I'm 

20          sorry.  Okay.  All right.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And I have more 

22          questions.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  That's it.  All 

24          right.


                                                                  335

 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  In a second round, 

 2          we might go back to ESCOs.

 3                 So in your testimony -- I'm shifting 

 4          gears -- you talk about that the state budget 

 5          will provide rate relief, an assessment will 

 6          expire from previous years and save 

 7          ratepayers $122 million in the next state 

 8          fiscal year.  But because of the subsidy 

 9          being provided nuclear energy plants in the 

10          state, if it's $7.6 billion over 12 years, 

11          that's a subsidy of $633 million a year.  

12                 So wouldn't you agree that while one 

13          assessment is disappearing, a new assessment 

14          will come that will significantly increase 

15          the rate for ratepayers?

16                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  I don't agree 

17          with that.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  And let me 

20          explain.

21                 The ZEC program -- first of all, the 

22          dollar amount over 12 years is -- there's 

23          different -- there's sort of various 

24          estimates, so I like to look at near term.  


                                                                  336

 1          Because if in fact prices of gas go up, that 

 2          dollar amount will go down.

 3                 But the point of the matter is that 

 4          the CES, the ZEC program was developed by the 

 5          commission, because we thought it was 

 6          absolutely essential that we have a 

 7          transition for the upstate nuclear plants.  

 8          We knew that those upstate nuclear plants 

 9          were going to close because gas prices are so 

10          low.  

11                 If those upstate plants close, the 

12          energy would have to be replaced most likely 

13          by fossil fuel, and most likely what would 

14          happen in the markets is prices would go up 

15          because you would have a scarcity of supply, 

16          and so that the replacement energy would be 

17          more expensive than the nuclear energy 

18          themselves.  

19                 So that the issue is this, and I think 

20          this is the challenge.  The gas and fossil 

21          units, as you know, are suing us.  They're 

22          suing us because they're saying this program 

23          is actually suppressing prices.  They would 

24          like to get rid of this program so prices 


                                                                  337

 1          would go up and they would have higher 

 2          profits and they could put more gas in.  

 3                 Other folks are concerned -- the 

 4          environmental folks, of course, are very -- 

 5          are okay with the program because they 

 6          understand this is the way we can get to our 

 7          20 by '30 goals around emission reduction 

 8          without having to increase fossil fuel in the 

 9          state.  

10                 And then there are people who don't 

11          like the program.  But the concern I have 

12          there is that there's no -- is that they're 

13          worried about the environment, but there's 

14          absolutely no way to replace these nuclear 

15          units with energy efficiency and renewables 

16          in this timeframe.  What we saw in Germany, 

17          what we saw in England and every other 

18          country or place where they've done very 

19          quick closure of nuclear, is we just increase 

20          fossil fuels.  

21                 And so this program is really, in my 

22          way of thinking, the least-cost way we can go 

23          to get where we want in the environment.  

24          Right?  And also I think it's just -- it's 


                                                                  338

 1          just a false assumption to assume that you 

 2          could close this amount of megawatts and lose 

 3          it in the market and not see a price 

 4          increase, because it's the law of supply and 

 5          demand.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And given the 

 7          rapidity by which renewables are coming to 

 8          the market at lower and lower cost, do you 

 9          think it's possible we could do all of this 

10          in less than the 12 years laid out in the 

11          plan that's started?

12                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  I think that the 

13          goal we have to get to 50 percent renewables 

14          by 2030 is a very significant goal.  You 

15          know, and one never says never on what could 

16          happen in the future, but on the other hand, 

17          if we don't -- the way we constructed this, 

18          if we didn't have the 12-year arrangements, 

19          the problem we would have had is the nuclear 

20          plants, because they're under a long time 

21          cycle, would likely have closed because of 

22          the uncertainties.  

23                 So I think that -- that if -- getting 

24          the plan around 2030 to 50 percent renewables 


                                                                  339

 1          is a very significant lift for the state.  

 2          It's going to take everything that we're 

 3          doing under REV, under energy efficiency, 

 4          under offshore wind.  And in my view, in this 

 5          timeframe, the ability then to be able to 

 6          close those plants at the end of the contract 

 7          period and know that we're still achieving 

 8          where we want to be on emissions is really a 

 9          positive outcome for the state.  And I would 

10          suggest we just try to focus on achieving 

11          that goal.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I've run out of 

13          time, so perhaps I will ask for a second 

14          round.  Thank you.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblywoman 

17          Paulin.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.  

19          Thank you so much.  

20                 So just to -- I find it a little 

21          curious, I just have to say, that -- and I'm 

22          not expecting a comment -- that we would 

23          close Indian Point for 2,000 megawatts and 

24          there's no expectation of rates rising, but 


                                                                  340

 1          if we closed the three other nuclear plants, 

 2          we would.  I just mention that, you don't 

 3          have to comment.  

 4                 I think that we're going to have a 

 5          hearing specific to Indian Point, and we can 

 6          talk about rates.  And I understand, I've 

 7          been briefed why you don't believe that might 

 8          be the case.  

 9                 To follow up on what Senator Krueger 

10          was saying on ESCOs, I'm curious about -- you 

11          know, there's a lot of ESCOs.  And it's very 

12          difficult to monitor everything that each of 

13          them are doing, and so many of the abuses 

14          come down to the way they solicit business.  

15                 And myself, I've been solicited, so I 

16          know firsthand how inappropriate they can be 

17          and how much inaccurate information that they 

18          give to potential consumers.  So part of the 

19          problem with having so many is that most -- 

20          you know, I told you about my issue, my 

21          solicitations.  I don't think most people do.  

22          And therefore, how -- you know, if it's an 

23          expense -- if it's solely based on hearing 

24          people making complaints, if it's a 


                                                                  341

 1          complaint-driven system, what are some of the 

 2          other things that can be done or that you're 

 3          looking at specifically during the upcoming 

 4          different processes that you're going through 

 5          that are going to be able to address in a 

 6          more uniform way, so we don't rely on a 

 7          complaint-driven system solely to fix some of 

 8          those abuses?

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  So there are a 

10          number of things that we're going to be 

11          looking at through this process.  One of the 

12          areas is in terms of credit posting.  So when 

13          we looked at -- when we did -- so in other 

14          words, if you put people -- have companies 

15          put up money, that will help, because then 

16          you will have better-funded companies who are 

17          actually investing and will be more concerned 

18          about losing their license.  That would be 

19          one piece.  

20                 The other elements that we're looking 

21          at is in terms of products and services.  And 

22          the third element we're looking at is some 

23          way of doing reference pricing for fixed 

24          products.  All of these should allow us -- 


                                                                  342

 1          and that's what we'd seen as a lot of 

 2          fly-by-night companies who don't have a big 

 3          investment.  

 4                 And one of the things I was going to 

 5          mention to Senator Krueger, I'll answer it 

 6          now, is that we're -- you know, there's like 

 7          the bad actors, and then there a number 

 8          companies who have made major investments in 

 9          this space.  And what we need to do, like in 

10          any other situation, is sort of get the rules 

11          right so the bad actors really can't play.  

12          And then folks who are really interested in 

13          creating legitimate businesses will be here.  

14                 The other element we did -- you know, 

15          and you encouraged it -- was community 

16          aggregation.  Because then at least, like 

17          you're seeing in Sustainable Westchester, you 

18          have a third party between the consumer and 

19          the ESCOs, and they're doing a more 

20          competitive process.  So it allows another 

21          level of protection for consumers.  

22                 So those are various pieces.  But 

23          you're absolutely right, we have to have the 

24          rules right, we have to be able to act 


                                                                  343

 1          quickly, we have to have significant 

 2          penalties, and we need to think about making 

 3          sure that the licensing essentially -- 

 4          practices are such that we weed out the bad 

 5          actors.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And you brought 

 7          in, you know, the link that I was going to 

 8          make next.  And community aggregation has a 

 9          lot to do with it.  You know, they use an 

10          ESCO, and some of the products that they 

11          offer are 100 percent renewable.  And so 

12          they're struggling to explain to their 

13          constituency that, you know, this is of good 

14          sound mind, you know, to pay more to help the 

15          environment.  And people are doing it.  They 

16          actually have, in some communities, no 

17          choice, because the community has actually 

18          opted to do a 100 percent renewable product.  

19                 But they're now feeling the extra 

20          burden of the ZECs.  And I wondered if 

21          there's going to be any accommodation made 

22          for either 100 percent renewable offered by 

23          an ESCO to an individual, or through the 

24          community aggregation program, so that we 


                                                                  344

 1          encourage or further encourage, you know, the 

 2          goal 50 by 2030.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thanks for the 

 4          question.  

 5                 And one of the things that the 

 6          commission did in the Clean Energy Standard 

 7          program is identify that if in fact we had a 

 8          community who was willing to go 100 percent 

 9          renewable -- but we didn't want it to be just 

10          RECs, but actually develop new in-state 

11          renewables -- we would look at granting an 

12          exemption for the REC program because the 

13          goal is only 50 percent.  

14                 So if you had communities who were 

15          interested in actually developing 100 percent 

16          renewable, that would be helpful, because 

17          then we would meet our goal and over time we 

18          would expect the REC program to be more 

19          expensive than the ZEC program, so everyone 

20          would benefit.

21                 So to the extent -- and these programs 

22          I know are more about buying RECs.  But if we 

23          could morph them into developing solar and 

24          wind or things like that, I think that 


                                                                  345

 1          there's a definite win/win around those, both 

 2          from the community choice aspect and thinking 

 3          about how to reduce the overall cost of the 

 4          CES program.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So there's no 

 6          consideration to -- because X is based on 

 7          load, there's no consideration to looking at 

 8          that as well?

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Well, it would 

10          be the load, but it -- you know, and again, 

11          it would be the ESCO, because it's the ESCO's 

12          responsibility if they offer 100 percent 

13          green, but they can tie it back to actual 

14          renewables developed in this state.  As 

15          opposed to, you know, just buying wind from 

16          Vermont or something like that.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Understood.

18                 So I was curious.  You know, the 

19          Buffalo -- you know, is that related to ZECs, 

20          or is that related to a rate case?  You know, 

21          the group that came and did their little --

22                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Oh, oh, oh, 

23          there's a pending rate case in front of us 

24          with National Fuel Gas, and so there's a 


                                                                  346

 1          concern about their proposed rate increase.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Okay.  And 

 3          there was an article today, a lot of 

 4          curiosity in the Daily News, about the 

 5          transfer of decommissioned funds in the case 

 6          of Fitzpatrick and in the case of 

 7          Indian Point to Entergy.  Or I guess to 

 8          Exelon in one case and Entergy in the other 

 9          case.  

10                 So not knowing a lot yet about how the 

11          decommissioning process works, the concern 

12          that was voiced by some of the consumer 

13          groups had to do with losing some control.  

14          And I wonder if you could just address how -- 

15          you know, what -- whether or not we would 

16          lose control and what that control would look 

17          like.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Yeah, I saw the 

19          article as well.  

20                 Typically, in my experience, nuclear 

21          decommissioning funds are administered by the 

22          owner of the facility.  Our case was unique 

23          in New York because NYPA owned the facility.  

24          But transferring it to Exelon to manage it 


                                                                  347

 1          because they manage their own funds would 

 2          make sense.  

 3                 And secondly, the NRC heavily 

 4          regulates the use of those funds.  And so the 

 5          idea that somehow or another those funds 

 6          could be put to some other use I think is 

 7          wrong.  And that's one of the things the NRC 

 8          will look -- so I was -- I don't think there 

 9          should be a concern that somehow there's 

10          going to be a misuse of funds and that -- and 

11          we wouldn't oversee the spending anyway, it 

12          would be the NRC.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Well, and I 

14          just want to add, we're going to miss you, 

15          and we wish you well.  And that concludes my 

16          questions.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  You're all 

18          invited to visit.  My husband keeps saying 

19          that's going to be a little crazy, but --

20                 (Laughter.)

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  All expenses paid?

22                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  No.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Murphy.

24                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Madam Chairwoman, how 


                                                                  348

 1          are you?  I'm Senator Murphy, I represent 

 2          Buchanan, where Indian Point is supposed to 

 3          be closing.  A few quick questions that maybe 

 4          you could help me out on.

 5                 Was your agency, or anything that 

 6          your -- you guys had involved or any notice 

 7          was given to you about the closing of Indian 

 8          Point so suddenly?

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Well, we were 

10          certainly involved in the discussions.  Not 

11          directly in terms of the closure, but we were 

12          asked as part of -- by the Governor to 

13          understand what the implications of the 

14          closure would be on local reliability.  

15                 And as you know, beginning -- even 

16          before I arrived in 2013, the commission was 

17          looking at developing a no-regrets policy so 

18          that we could support the closure of the 

19          plant without compromising reliability, and 

20          issued a number of decisions with respect to 

21          that.  

22                 So we've been heavily engaged in 

23          understanding and helping advise the 

24          administration on the implications of the 


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 1          closure.  But obviously the discussions were 

 2          part of the litigation which we were not a 

 3          party to.

 4                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Okay.  So 2030, 

 5          50 percent renewables.  That's the goal, 

 6          correct?

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Correct.

 8                 SENATOR MURPHY:  And we're saying that 

 9          it's extremely difficult -- like you just 

10          said previously, it's going to be very 

11          difficult to do.  

12                 What is our plan, or is there a 

13          plan -- because I haven't heard anything -- 

14          about getting the 25 percent to Westchester, 

15          New York City -- where is this energy 

16          miraculously going to come from?

17                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Sure.

18                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Because I haven't 

19          heard anything about it.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  I can help you 

21          with that.

22                 So in 2013, the commission issued an 

23          order where we tried -- we looked at what 

24          would be the implications of a closure and to 


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 1          put the state in what we call a "no-regrets" 

 2          policy.  Out of that, we approved four 

 3          separate transmission projects which have now 

 4          been completed.  They're called the TOTS 

 5          project, and they provided about 

 6          600 megawatts more transfer capability for 

 7          the region.  

 8                 In addition, we improved a number of 

 9          demand response programs in Con Edison which 

10          also reduced demand.  

11                 So that, together, has already been 

12          done, and we're close to about 900 megawatts, 

13          almost half has been completed already in 

14          terms of transfer capability.  

15                 We also approved what has been known 

16          as the AC transmission, which is 

17          1,000 megawatts of transfer capability, so we 

18          can take advantage of generation already 

19          located in upstate New York, the nuclear 

20          plants, as well as Western New York, and move 

21          that energy into the region.  That project is 

22          well underway.  

23                 We've been working with the New York 

24          Independent System Operator, we used a 


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 1          competitive process.  We've been able to 

 2          really arrive at, I think, some really good 

 3          solutions, and we'll be going through a 

 4          siting process on that.  But that also helps.  

 5                 We also have 1,000 megawatts of 

 6          proposed transmission which we've already 

 7          approved for -- it's certificated to move 

 8          1,000 megawatts of hydro from Hydro-QuÈbec 

 9          directly into the city, under a DC 

10          transmission project that's going to be 

11          merchant -- so ratepayers don't have to pay 

12          for it.  But it's essentially the equivalent 

13          of taking 1,000 megawatts of hydro and 

14          putting it in the middle of New York City 

15          once it gets done.  

16                 We also have about 1700 megawatts of 

17          generation that's been fully certified, and a 

18          number are under construction.  Because once 

19          we announced that we are looking at the 

20          closure, the market responded, and we're 

21          seeing these merchant generators -- again, 

22          ratepayers won't pay for them, which is 

23          partly why we're saying the difference and 

24          why we're doing this Clean Energy Standard -- 


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 1          because in Indian Point, we planned for this.  

 2          And as a result of planning for it, we have 

 3          solutions that are not going to cost 

 4          ratepayers money.  

 5                 In the case of the upstate nukes, we 

 6          hadn't planned for it, and our concern was in 

 7          the absence of a plan we were going to cost 

 8          ourselves and not to get to our goals.  

 9                 So this is all part of when we look at 

10          REV, when we look at emissions, knowing that 

11          we weren't going to rely on Indian Point 

12          anymore and that we needed to start looking 

13          at the alternatives and do it in an effective 

14          way that was really -- looked out to the 

15          future.  Because these things obviously, as 

16          you know, can't happen overnight.

17                 SENATOR MURPHY:  How can you guarantee 

18          me that these rates aren't going up?  Because 

19          I -- this is -- after some of these other 

20          nuclear facilities have closed, that hasn't 

21          been the case.  They've actually quadrupled, 

22          and in Westchester County it's one of the top 

23          five highest tax brackets in the United 

24          States of America.  And people are living 


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 1          by -- check by check, and having their energy 

 2          costs skyrocket, which are already some of 

 3          the highest in the country.  I need help.  I 

 4          need some answers.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  So let me tell 

 6          you a few things that allowed me to make the 

 7          decision.  

 8                 One is I have to say I don't think we 

 9          want to lose sight of the fact that the 

10          difference between Indian Point and the 

11          upstate nukes was about safety.  And so --

12                 SENATOR MURPHY:  I -- we can't all 

13          agree more.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Okay.

15                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Safety is of utmost 

16          importance.  I get that.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  So the question 

18          then is how do we know.  Well, one is because 

19          gas prices are lower and we have these plants 

20          coming in; the second is because we're 

21          looking at building the transmission and 

22          looking at additional assets; and the third 

23          is that if the Hydro-QuÈbec facility goes in, 

24          that's 1,000 megawatts that could be under an 


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 1          agreement which would then reduce the demand 

 2          on the other parts of the state.  

 3                 So all of these in combination -- and 

 4          I'm happy to -- because it's hard to do this 

 5          very quickly -- is really what allows us to 

 6          say that in contrast to an immediate closure 

 7          of three nuclear plants that we weren't 

 8          counting on, a planned closure where the 

 9          market has a chance to respond allows us to 

10          get there in a much more economically 

11          efficient way.

12                 SENATOR MURPHY:  So there'll be no 

13          environmental factors of taking that hydro 

14          from Quebec and bringing it down to New York 

15          City?  Through the Hudson River, through 

16          upstate New York, there's going to be no 

17          environmental impact on any of the other 

18          counties in the state?

19                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  We've looked at 

20          that --

21                 SENATOR MURPHY:  No other lawsuits, or 

22          the environmental part of it, or anything 

23          like that?

24                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  It's been 


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 1          permitted, and it's also received the federal 

 2          permit.  And Hydro-QuÈbec has a lot of excess 

 3          energy that it's able to send down to the 

 4          states and really wants to, without new 

 5          entailments.

 6                 SENATOR MURPHY:  So will some of my 

 7          colleagues that live in that upper area up 

 8          there, will they be able to tap into it?

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Well, it will be 

10          a DC tie, so whether they -- but there's 

11          other transmission that's under consideration 

12          where NYPA's working with Hydro-QuÈbec so 

13          that it could be imported through typical 

14          imports.  DC is -- it's just a direct -- 

15          think about it as an extension cord.

16                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Right.  That will 

17          come from Quebec, all the way down.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Right.  But 

19          there's other transmission that we're looking 

20          at to allow for energy to be moved into the 

21          state through normal means.

22                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Okay, I know my time 

23          has run out.  Would you mind -- could I get a 

24          copy of those reports that you -- what was 


                                                                  356

 1          that, the TOTS project or something?

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Oh, yeah.  

 3          Absolutely.

 4                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Would you mind having 

 5          that sent --

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Yes.

 7                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Thank you.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Sure.

 9                 SENATOR MURPHY:  Appreciate your time.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblywoman 

11          Jenne.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.  

13                 Good afternoon.  How are you?

14                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Good.  How are 

15          you?

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Good.

17                 I just want to start off by saying 

18          that I appreciate all of the time and effort 

19          that you've put into trying to balance all of 

20          the energy issues and demands of a very 

21          diverse state with an aging infrastructure.  

22          And so you've talked about upgrading the AC 

23          types of lines.  Are you getting at the major 

24          congestion points that prevent electricity 


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 1          that's generated up in my neck of the woods 

 2          to get down to the suburbs and the city?  Is 

 3          that what you were referring to?

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  There were some 

 5          limiting factors, and that was addressed by 

 6          these TOTS projects, to improve that.  

 7                 The AC is more west to east, and it's 

 8          really what we call the Marcy.  But it's not 

 9          so much the north to south at this point.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  All righty.

11                 One of the concerns I have about the 

12          ZEC program is -- you probably can recall I 

13          represent three munis, I've lived in two, 

14          currently still live in one.  And I wondered 

15          if there -- you know, whether we're going to 

16          take into account the fact that the majority 

17          of their electric usage is hydro, it's a 

18          long-standing contract, and they're not 

19          typically subject to a lot of these fees and 

20          assessments in the state.  And they also 

21          don't receive benefits of these types of fees 

22          and surcharges sometimes, you know, like 

23          energy efficiency types of programs and 

24          things like that.  We've traditionally carved 


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 1          out munis.  

 2                 And also the dramatic impact -- I 

 3          mean, is there some sort of equity that's 

 4          built into the ZEC program for munis?

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  So the way the 

 6          commission made a decision on this -- and 

 7          you're correct, historically these programs 

 8          were not placed on munis when we looked at 

 9          things like the system benefit charges 

10          because of the NYPA relationship.  

11                 But in this case, what the commission 

12          was looking at is the fact that the closure 

13          of the nuclear power plants would result in 

14          an increase in carbon emissions of millions 

15          of tons a year throughout the state, and that 

16          it would have been inequitable because we're 

17          really talking about the ability to maintain 

18          a portfolio to not have -- because all state 

19          users contributed to that -- to not spread 

20          the costs throughout the state.  

21                 And so that's why we asked NYPA and 

22          LIPA as well as the munis to do their fair 

23          share so that all state consumers, since all 

24          state consumers get the environmental 


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 1          benefit, all state consumers should pay their 

 2          fair share.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  But just like 

 4          Chairwoman Paulin said, there are some 

 5          communities that made a historical decision 

 6          to be green and to organize themselves in a 

 7          way to save their customers money.  And I'm 

 8          very concerned that the amount that our munis' 

 9          customers are going to be expected to pick up 

10          will double or triple what their bill is.  We 

11          have people that have chosen to live in these 

12          communities and to pay taxes there based on 

13          the fact that there is a municipal electric 

14          utility there.  And is there a limiting that 

15          the bill can't go up more than a certain 

16          percentage?

17                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  The way we're 

18          looking to moderate this is actually through 

19          the REC program.  And so we have designed the 

20          REC program so that in terms of renewables 

21          themselves, we take advantage of what we see 

22          as continuing to decline in costs and look at 

23          the creation of a voluntary market.  

24                 In terms of the ZEC program, I 


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 1          appreciate the concern.  The issue is is that 

 2          it's hard not to allocate those, because if 

 3          not, then you're going to have other 

 4          constituents in the state who are paying more 

 5          than their fair share.  

 6                 The other piece, I would say, is that 

 7          a lot of municipals that did take the 

 8          advantage of having low-cost NYPA power -- 

 9          and so to ask consumers who didn't have 

10          access to that power to now pay for the ZEC 

11          program seemed to us another equity issue.  

12                 So these are challenging issues.  But 

13          it really comes down to -- and as you know, a 

14          lot of people downstate said:  Why should we 

15          be paying for it?  And our answer is because 

16          we're talking about a statewide environmental 

17          benefit, and it just seemed the most 

18          equitable for us to say since everyone in the 

19          state's going to be benefiting from the 

20          reduction in carbon, everybody should pay 

21          their fair share.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Well, I would 

23          respectfully suggest that we carve out munis 

24          because of the huge impact that it's going to 


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 1          have on people's budgets, and people do live 

 2          on fixed incomes upstate.  A lot of these 

 3          munis are very small, they would have a very 

 4          negligible impact on the distribution of the 

 5          entire amount of money that is needed to be 

 6          recouped, and they shouldn't be penalized for 

 7          making a smart decision many years ago.  

 8                 And I would also like to make sure 

 9          that I talk about my concern that hydro, 

10          existing hydro, really has been given no 

11          place at the table in terms of being able to 

12          invest in themselves, receive incentives to 

13          be able to update their equipment and to 

14          generate more zero carbon energy in this 

15          state.  It is very upsetting to me.  

16                 We produce a lot of hydroelectric 

17          energy in the North Country in particular, 

18          and we are not seeing any state investment 

19          really flow their way, that I can see, to 

20          help them to solve our problems of 50 percent 

21          renewable by 2030.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Assemblywoman 

23          Jenne, you know, the issue that is 

24          confronting the nukes is the same issue 


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 1          that's confronting existing hydro and almost 

 2          every generator, frankly, in the state.  And 

 3          one of the things that the commission did in 

 4          the Clean Energy Standard order that we 

 5          issued in December, the rehearing order, we 

 6          acknowledged the fact that we need to have a 

 7          program that to the extent we have existing 

 8          resources -- who are hydro, biomass, who are 

 9          struggling economically, and that to replace 

10          them would be more expensive than to maintain 

11          them -- that we needed a program so that they 

12          can continue to invest and we can retain 

13          them, because it made no sense to pay more to 

14          replace them than to maintain them.  

15                 So the staff is working with NYSERDA 

16          to develop that program because we heard 

17          them, that there was a concern, and we agreed 

18          that it makes no sense to lose these assets.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And as we lose 

20          you to Australia, I just want your staff to 

21          know that I'll be watching for that program.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Okay.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And 

24          congratulations, and good luck.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 3          much.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Senator Young, 

 5          hello.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  It's so great to 

 7          see you, Chairwoman.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Good to see you.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you so much 

10          for being here.  And I know that this is 

11          probably one of your last official acts 

12          before you leave us, and I just wanted to 

13          say, first of all, congratulations.  You will 

14          be missed.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And we wish you 

17          well in your new endeavors, so thank you for 

18          everything that you've done.

19                 I just wanted to ask, real quickly, 

20          could you give us a quick update on the Clean 

21          Energy Standard and REV?  I know you talked 

22          about REV, I think a little bit.  You touched 

23          on it earlier.  But could you give us a 

24          briefing on that?


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  On the Clean 

 2          Energy Standard?

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And REV.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  And REV?

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  We are 

 7          proceeding in REV.  We just -- right now, 

 8          we're at a point now where the commission has 

 9          issued its policy decisions and is in the 

10          process of implementing them through the 

11          various rate cases -- we just decided the 

12          Con Ed rate cases -- where there are a number 

13          of programs that were put in place to 

14          implement that.  

15                 We've also done, as you know, a number 

16          of demonstration projects that are underway 

17          to show how consumers can gauge more.  We 

18          also have an ongoing process to look at how 

19          we price-distributed energy resources better, 

20          that should be decided this year.  

21                 So I feel very good about where we are 

22          in the state in terms of implementing the 

23          future.  I mean, New York is clearly leading 

24          in terms of recognizing that moving into the 


                                                                  365

 1          21st century, the power system is not just 

 2          going to be around large central station 

 3          power plants -- they'll still have a role, 

 4          but it will also include distributed 

 5          resources such as distributed solar, fuel 

 6          cells, CHP, as well as renewable-type 

 7          resources so that demand itself can be made 

 8          more efficient.  

 9                 And that's a lot of what we're seeing, 

10          is sort of that coming together.  I feel like 

11          the state has certainly set the policy and 

12          now the market is moving forward very quickly 

13          to help us implement it.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

15                 Is there any kind of written document 

16          or report out there, kind of like a status 

17          update, with that?  That might be something 

18          that would be helpful to the Legislature.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Okay.  I think 

20          that's something we'll take back and -- to 

21          develop a report on sort of ongoing 

22          activities.  That's a good idea.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Now --

24                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  I can promise a 


                                                                  366

 1          lot now.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I know you can.  I 

 3          know you can.

 4                 And speaking of that, you know, now 

 5          that you're leaving and Commissioner Acampora 

 6          is looking to retire from the five-member 

 7          board, we are concerned that the board may be 

 8          compromised as far as completing its work, 

 9          may not be able to have a quorum, for 

10          example.  So are there open orders, how many, 

11          and are there actions that require the 

12          commission's approval?

13                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you for 

14          the question, Senator Young.  We actually 

15          researched that question.  

16                 Under the Public Service Law -- and 

17          there's a legal memo, but basically the way 

18          it works is that the two remaining sitting 

19          commissioners can constitute a quorum.  So 

20          it's the majority of the sitting 

21          commissioners who constitute the quorum.  So 

22          as long as both commissioners vote in favor 

23          of an item, it can move forward.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.  


                                                                  367

 1          I would like to see those positions filled, 

 2          however, so -- just one final question.  

 3                 Consumer complaints, I know the 

 4          Comptroller had asked for information.  Is 

 5          there a tracking system on those, or how does 

 6          that work?

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  We do have a 

 8          tracking system on consumer complaints.  

 9                 And the question that the Comptroller 

10          asked about, Well, what about when you file a 

11          complaint and it's not necessarily a consumer 

12          complaint, it's another matter?  But we do 

13          track those, we just track them in a 

14          different system.  That's what was -- the 

15          discussion that we had back and forth with 

16          him.  

17                 But they're all tracked.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I see.  Okay.  

19          Thank you.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Sure.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Are you all set?

22                 Senator Savino.

23                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, 

24          Senator Young.


                                                                  368

 1                 Thank you for your testimony.  Thank 

 2          you for your service.  I just want to ask you 

 3          simply, now that you're on your way on to 

 4          your next step in life, perhaps you might 

 5          have an opinion on a piece of legislation 

 6          that I've been carrying for the last couple 

 7          of years.  And I know it's a priority for 

 8          AARP, and in fact if it were passed and 

 9          enacted in New York State like it is in 

10          40 other states, you might not have spent so 

11          much time today answering questions from some 

12          of my colleagues.  

13                 It's about the establishment of a 

14          utility consumer advocate.  As you know, 

15          New York is one of the few states that does 

16          not have a utility consumer advocate that 

17          helps deal with rate issues.  We don't have 

18          anyone on the PSC that just basically 

19          advocates on behalf of the consumers.  While 

20          you do a wonderful job, there's a sense that 

21          consumers really don't have someone at the 

22          PSC that is -- it's not a level playing field 

23          for the consumers.  

24                 And as Senator Young talked about the 


                                                                  369

 1          number of complaints from consumers, and I 

 2          heard Senator Murphy speak about some of the 

 3          concerns that people have about rate hikes 

 4          and how we can explain them, and we all know 

 5          that Con Ed has now just jacked up their 

 6          rates downstate -- do you think the 

 7          establishment of a utility consumer advocate 

 8          in New York State might help us as it's 

 9          helped in other places, particularly like 

10          California, where they were able to help 

11          consumers in California save almost 

12          $4 billion in the past few years?

13                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

14          Senator Savino.  First of all I, you know, 

15          obviously, even though I am leaving, will not 

16          comment on pending legislation.  

17                 (Laughter.)

18                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  But I will tell 

19          you that two years ago I established a 

20          consumer advocate role within the agency.  We 

21          have a consumer advocate, his name is Michael 

22          Corso.  The Consumer Services Division 

23          reports to him.  But as we established him, 

24          we always -- we put together a Consumer 


                                                                  370

 1          Advisory Committee that's made up of many of 

 2          the people that you're aware of, such as 

 3          PULP, AARP, and the PIRGs and the UIU.  And 

 4          he works very closely with them to make sure 

 5          that consumer interests are represented in 

 6          our rate cases.  

 7                 As a result of that, that's -- you 

 8          know, it was out of that work -- the first 

 9          thing I heard from this consumer advisory 

10          group is they wanted an Energy Affordability 

11          Index.  And we put that in, so that now we're 

12          getting to a 6 percent energy burden.  

13                 And then in each rate case, the 

14          consumer advocacy group will work very 

15          closely with the external advocates to make 

16          sure that their voices are represented.  

17                 The other thing that we did is we -- 

18          Michael is to -- reports directly to me.  And 

19          so he's one of my chief advisors, so we 

20          wanted to make sure that every issue that we 

21          did at the agency had a consumer focus.  So 

22          without -- again, I can't agree with you any 

23          more that this is all about the consumer.

24                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Mm-hmm.


                                                                  371

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  And we need to 

 2          make sure that there's a loud consumer voice 

 3          in everything we do.  

 4                 And we can do that within the agency.  

 5          And our folks know that they're absolutely 

 6          empowered to make sure that when we're making 

 7          decisions, we understand the consumer 

 8          perspective.  All consumers.

 9                 SENATOR SAVINO:  There's no doubt 

10          that, you know, the work you've done has 

11          improved circumstances.  I just think that -- 

12          and I'm not alone in this -- that we can do 

13          better.  And so we're going to continue to 

14          push for the establishment of a utility 

15          consumer advocate, and hopefully we'll 

16          convince some other people so that we can 

17          take New York State a step further and 

18          become, I guess, the 41st state that has a 

19          utility consumer advocate.

20                 But thank you for your service.  Good 

21          luck in your future endeavors.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

24                 Senator O'Mara.


                                                                  372

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

 2          Chairwoman.  

 3                 Thank you for being here.  You 

 4          mentioned in some of your prior testimony 

 5          about upstate transmission, connecting some 

 6          of our power sources upstate to downstate, 

 7          which I think the Governor's talked about for 

 8          the last six years as the Energy Highway.

 9                 It comes as news to me that there's 

10          any work being done on any of those 

11          transmission projects that you generally 

12          described in your prior testimony.  Can you 

13          tell me what's going on with developing 

14          transmission to get electricity from 

15          upstate to downstate to connect those power 

16          sources, and where they stand?  I'm not aware 

17          of anything being approved, I'm not aware of 

18          anything being built.  Where are we on this?

19                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Sure.  So the 

20          projects that I referred to that have been 

21          constructed are projects that we did to 

22          reduce local constraints downstate, the TOTS 

23          projects and some upstate -- those were part 

24          of what we call the "no-regrets" around 


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 1          Indian Point.  

 2                 In terms of the AC transmission, after 

 3          we started this process, there was an order 

 4          that came out of FERC called Order 1000 which 

 5          allowed for basically ratepayer approval in 

 6          the federal tariffs of transmission that 

 7          served the public policy.  And we determined 

 8          that that would be actually the best thing, 

 9          because then it would become part of the 

10          New York State ISO tariff.  

11                 So we put the AC transmission through 

12          a process so the ISO can review it.  They've 

13          completed their review and sent it back to us 

14          and said the project would be a good idea.  

15          We have then said we can -- we had to then 

16          vote on that, we did that in December and 

17          said we agree, and now we sent it back to 

18          them so they can select the best project in 

19          terms of cost and meeting the needs of the 

20          system.  We would expect that back from them, 

21          we will then have to go through our normal 

22          Article VII.  

23                 But the expectation, which has been 

24          the expectation all along, is that that 


                                                                  374

 1          project would be commissioned during the 

 2          2018-2019 -- or start construction during 

 3          2018-2019, with full commissioning in 2022.  

 4                 So it's on track.  It's just because 

 5          this is sort of a shared jurisdiction between 

 6          us and the federal government, we had to use 

 7          both processes.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So is that going to 

 9          help connect and move power from, say, 

10          Nine Mile, Ginna upstate to the downstate 

11          metropolitan region?

12                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Yes.  This is to 

13          remove the constraints.  

14                 The other piece that this does, by the 

15          way -- is our expectation is with this 

16          transmission -- if you recall, there was a 

17          new capacity zone set up in Central Hudson.  

18          Getting this transmission built will also 

19          help eliminate the need for that capacity, 

20          so -- so that's the other reason we want to 

21          do it, because we're essentially creating a 

22          pipe so that power can be moved freely from 

23          upstate to downstate.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Is this transmission 


                                                                  375

 1          proposal, is that taking into account the 

 2          development of new renewables across the 

 3          state, to help move that power to the 

 4          higher-demand areas of the state?

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  It will support 

 6          that.  So, you know -- and we should think 

 7          about the fact that New York, the supply is 

 8          located upstate, a lot of the demand is 

 9          downstate, and we need that transportation 

10          system.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And I fully agree 

12          with that and support that.  Are we 

13          undertaking any examinations to determine how 

14          communities along that path should be 

15          incentivized to accept that transmission 

16          going through their communities as we are 

17          certainly incentivizing renewable power 

18          sources to be constructed?  What are we 

19          providing to these communities along the way 

20          to put up with or host transmission going 

21          through the communities?  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  So one of the 

23          things that the commission did, and this came 

24          out of I think it was the 2014 State of the 


                                                                  376

 1          State, was to take a look at building 

 2          transmission on existing highways.  So I'm 

 3          really pleased to say actually the projects 

 4          that we're considering are using existing 

 5          right-of-ways and actually are creating 

 6          modern towers so that in fact the sight 

 7          impact is really de minimis.  

 8                 We've also really reduced the Hudson 

 9          crossing -- the crossing over the Hudson 

10          River.  So the idea, and that was part of 

11          this process, was to build transmission so 

12          that we can use existing right-of-way and 

13          make better use of it.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Would that 

15          transmission be primarily above ground?  Or 

16          are you also examining ways to run 

17          transmission underground, which might be more 

18          acceptable to certain communities?

19                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  We gave all of 

20          the bidders an opportunity to take a look at 

21          that.  But for this size of transmission, the 

22          voltage, it would be cost-prohibitive.  And 

23          by using, again, the existing right-of-way -- 

24          and we're moving away from the big lattice 


                                                                  377

 1          towers, we're hoping -- it's actually 

 2          reducing some of the visual impact that you 

 3          would have seen otherwise.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  With regards 

 5          to the Hydro-QuÈbec line and running that 

 6          down, is there any interest in the industry 

 7          right now in actually undertaking that 

 8          construction with investors?  That's a big 

 9          hurdle to get over, isn't it?

10                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  There is.  But I 

11          think there's interest in the New York City 

12          area to maybe -- to looking at that.  And so 

13          we're hopeful, again, with the Clean Energy 

14          Standard and the announcement of 

15          Indian Point, you're creating a market 

16          incentive for people to enter into a 

17          long-term agreement on that on a voluntary 

18          basis.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  It was my 

20          understanding that with the Clean Energy 

21          Standard, this power coming in from 

22          Hydro-QuÈbec would not count towards our 

23          Clean Energy Standard.  Can you comment on 

24          that?


                                                                  378

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  No, incremental 

 2          does.  It counts towards Tier 1.  And then so 

 3          it would have some advantage.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How much?

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Let me check.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I've heard it 

 7          wouldn't count towards our Clean Energy 

 8          Standard of whatever the goals are, 

 9          50 percent initially.  Then that's not going 

10          to help us.  Or how much of that --

11                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Under -- yeah, 

12          under the Clean Energy Standard anything 

13          that's incremental to existing hydro 

14          imports -- we didn't want to count existing 

15          imports, but if it's incremental hydro that's 

16          coming in, it does count towards the Clean -- 

17          and incremental that doesn't involve an 

18          impoundment, so it's sort of increasing the 

19          capacity of what they already have and coming 

20          into the state.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  With regards 

22          to that Hydro-QuÈbec line again, and not 

23          having any inputs or outputs along the line 

24          throughout upstate New York as it comes 


                                                                  379

 1          through, it seems to me to be a waste to not 

 2          have some -- I know it takes conversion 

 3          stations to convert the DC and AC, but why is 

 4          that not being a requirement of this 

 5          proposal, to at least have some of those 

 6          along the way so that it can help move some 

 7          of our upstate excess power downstate, and 

 8          help create New York State jobs rather than 

 9          Canadian jobs?  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  You're talking 

11          about conversions on the DC system itself, to 

12          allow for more sort of local development?  Or 

13          local hydro?

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Both.  Both in and 

15          out.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Yeah.  I think 

17          the -- it's a good question in terms of the 

18          economics of that.  

19                 When we approved the line, we approved 

20          it as a merchant facility, so none of it hits 

21          rates.  As a result, it would be very 

22          difficult for us to impose any requirements 

23          without guaranteeing recovery.  So we would 

24          have to -- if the state were to do that, we'd 


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 1          have to go back and re-look at the line as 

 2          something that would go into rates, which we 

 3          decided not to because they said they would 

 4          take merchant risk.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  My time's up.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 7                 Senator Krueger.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  All right.  Thank 

 9          you.

10                 Going back to, I think, where we were 

11          discussing -- so I said it's going to cost -- 

12          or it's been reported it will cost 

13          $7.6 billion to ratepayers over a 12-year 

14          period.  You said not necessarily.  And then 

15          I've been doing some more reading since then 

16          which seems to show that it would be about 

17          2 billion a year for individual ratepayers, a 

18          billion to municipalities, which follows up 

19          on the Assemblywoman's question.  

20                 So who pays the rest?  And how do we 

21          get an understanding of how much would it 

22          actually be per year under this deal that 

23          you've made?

24                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  For the ZEC 


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 1          program?

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yes.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  So our -- what 

 4          we did is we calculated the ZEC program over 

 5          the first two years of the program.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Two or three?  I'm 

 7          sorry --

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Two.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Two.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Two years of the 

11          program.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Because under 

14          the way we've approved the ZEC program, the 

15          amount of payments really will depend on what 

16          the forecasted gas prices are going to be.  

17                 So if gas prices are forecasted to go 

18          up, under the way the program works, that 

19          would suggest that the amount that gets paid 

20          under the ZECs for the avoided carbon would 

21          go down.  And so the total dollar amount 

22          really depends on what's happening on energy 

23          prices.  

24                 But we also looked at it from the -- 


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 1          so for the first couple of years of the 

 2          program, we're looking at that, on average, 

 3          about $2 per residential customer for the 

 4          program.  But the other side of it is the 

 5          program itself, which is $950 million in the 

 6          first two years with savings at that 

 7          1.4 billion in terms of avoided environmental 

 8          costs, et cetera.  

 9                 So the challenge we have, right, is 

10          that what we're looking to do is look at the 

11          avoided cost to carbon.  The whole price of 

12          the ZECs is about -- on the avoided cost of 

13          carbon.  If we allow the carbon emissions to 

14          come in, societal costs are going to go up.  

15          So it is a total cost savings if you're 

16          concerned about climate change.  

17                 And that's where I have had -- we've 

18          had this debate with some of the folks who 

19          have written about the program and saying 

20          it's a bad program.  Like I said, the fossil 

21          guys don't like it because they think it's 

22          going to suppress prices, and the people who 

23          are worried about the environment -- the fact 

24          of the matter is, if we don't do this, we're 


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 1          going to increase fossil emissions, which is 

 2          going to be a higher cost to society.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So where would 

 4          people probably smarter than me go to review 

 5          what the deal is and how to hold it up for 

 6          transparency, over each year, what actually 

 7          is happening and what the rate changes will 

 8          be?  Is there a contract that was signed?

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  There is a 

10          contract between NYSERDA and Exelon, the 

11          owners.  But there is -- you have our 

12          proceedings, and under the commission order, 

13          every three years we're going to have a 

14          review of the proceeding and we'll be doing 

15          an update.  

16                 So the best place really for folks who 

17          are interested is really at the agency, and 

18          to work with our staff and look at 

19          essentially our various orders as well as the 

20          various PowerPoints that we posted and things 

21          like that on the website.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  But is there 

23          someplace for people to look at the contract?

24                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  The contract 


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 1          itself is confidential.  And I don't believe 

 2          it's been made public yet, but I can 

 3          double-check.  And John will be following me, 

 4          and he'll be able to answer that.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Because your agency 

 6          won't have any analysis until three years 

 7          down the road.  Is that correct?

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Correct.  But 

 9          again, the contract really just implements 

10          the order.  What the order does is it -- it 

11          just -- and it's like we do with wind 

12          development and solar development.  These 

13          contracts that NYSERDA signs are really on 

14          execution.  The terms of the contract are 

15          really set out in the commission's order 

16          approving the ZEC program.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.  Then since 

18          you actually jumped to the importance of 

19          carbon reduction and the argument for this 

20          plan, quite a few of us signed a letter 

21          urging the Governor to increase the RGGI 

22          cap from 2 percent to 5 percent in order to 

23          try to actually reduce carbon in our 

24          atmosphere.  And he ultimately, I believe, 


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 1          went to 3 percent, is that correct, in his 

 2          recommendation for where we go --

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Yes.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- with the RGGI 

 5          carbon tax?  

 6                 So since we are all interested in 

 7          ensuring that we do whatever we can to reduce 

 8          our greenhouse gas pollution, why -- well, 

 9          one, did PSC support an increase beyond the 

10          3 percent?  And if not, why not?

11                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  So thank you for 

12          the question.  As you know, I'm a member of 

13          the RGGI board, and the state has -- New York 

14          has been one of the strong advocates of 

15          increasing the cap so that we have the 

16          ability to price out carbon.  

17                 But RGGI is an agreement among 

18          multiple states, and the states were in 

19          different positions, you have different 

20          governors taking different views.  And so, 

21          you know, I think 3 percent is aggressive for 

22          a number of states.  

23                 But it really turns back to -- and I 

24          think this is why what we're doing in the 


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 1          Clean Energy Standard is so important.  

 2          New York, by moving towards the 50 by '30 and 

 3          the 40 percent reduction in emissions, 

 4          continues to lead, and it really shows really 

 5          why we have to be very aggressive in looking 

 6          at this, because that's our biggest leverage 

 7          with the other states, is that we're going 

 8          there, you need to go there with us.  And I 

 9          think it's the combination of the two.  

10                 But I would suggest that this 

11          discussion about RGGI will continue and, you 

12          know, as everyone here in this room knows, 

13          the states really need to lead on carbon now.  

14          And I think New York is one of the states 

15          that's truly leading, because we just don't 

16          know where the federal government's going to 

17          be.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Mm-hmm.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  And that's the 

20          other reason why the ZEC and REC programs are 

21          so important, because they are based on 

22          avoiding carbon, and we designed them very 

23          specifically to be able to resist federal 

24          challenge.  And I think it's -- these pieces 


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 1          all need to fit together.  

 2                 So, you know, I would just sum up this 

 3          way.  I don't think there's anyone, certainly 

 4          among the energy team, that disagrees with 

 5          you.  We need to be as aggressive as we can.  

 6          We think that the 50 percent is a very 

 7          aggressive goal.  We think we need to keep 

 8          the nukes, have a transition to make sure we 

 9          can hit that 50 percent along with the 

10          emissions, and we need to continue to really 

11          push our neighboring states to go with us in 

12          this direction because it's going to be 

13          state-driven, I think, for the next several 

14          years.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And even though we 

16          still don't have access to the contract, but 

17          hopefully we will get to -- is there anything 

18          in anything that PSC has done or NYSERDA or 

19          the contract that commits that there won't 

20          just be a continuing deal with nuclear energy 

21          past the 10-to-12-year mark?  Is there 

22          something that's a guaranteed drop-dead?  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Yeah.  The 

24          contract is a 12-year agreement, so 


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 1          there's -- you know, there would be -- there 

 2          would have to be a new agreement after 

 3          12 years.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Because there's 

 5          nothing in anything now that says "and we can 

 6          never continue this."

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  There's -- it's 

 8          only -- I said it's only a 12-year agreement, 

 9          so it wouldn't continue after 12 years unless 

10          some other action happens.  

11                 But as you know, it -- we can't bind 

12          future commissions, an administration can't 

13          bind future administrations, so it would have 

14          to take a future action to extend it.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I think that 

18          concludes it.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yup.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Well, thank 

21          you so much.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And again, good 

24          luck with your endeavors.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

 4          President and CEO John B. Rhodes, from the 

 5          New York State Energy and Research 

 6          Development Agency, NYSERDA.

 7                 Welcome.

 8                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Good afternoon.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good afternoon.  

10          It's still afternoon, good.

11                 (Laughter.)

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Go ahead.

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Am I on?

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You're on.

15                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  It's your big 

17          moment.

18                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.

19                 Good afternoon, Chairwoman Young, 

20          Chairman Farrell, and members of the 

21          committees.  Thank you for the opportunity to 

22          testify before you today.  I am John Rhodes.  

23          I am president and CEO of the New York State 

24          Energy Research and Development Authority, 


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 1          NYSERDA.  

 2                 NYSERDA continues to play its critical 

 3          role in advancing Governor Cuomo's 

 4          comprehensive policy for a clean, more 

 5          affordable, and resilient energy system 

 6          called Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV. 

 7          In 2016 the Governor launched the $5 billion 

 8          Clean Energy Fund, or CEF, providing 

 9          solutions to reduce harmful greenhouse gases, 

10          improve resiliency, and make energy more 

11          affordable, delivering $39 billion in 

12          customer bill savings for New Yorkers over 

13          the life of the fund. 

14                 Currently more than 20 new CEF 

15          initiatives are underway that further our 

16          progress toward these goals.  The CEF 

17          consists of four portfolios:  market 

18          development, innovation and research, NY-Sun, 

19          and NY Green Bank.

20                 The first, market development, is 

21          focused on reducing costs and accelerating 

22          uptake of energy efficiency as well as other 

23          on-site consumer solutions, while increasing 

24          private investment levels.  Market 


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 1          development also specifically supports 

 2          initiatives that benefit low-to-moderate- 

 3          income households, including a commitment of 

 4          at least $230 million over the first three 

 5          years of the CEF.

 6                 The innovation and research portfolio 

 7          drives clean energy business development, 

 8          promoting a robust clean energy ecosystem 

 9          that will accelerate the growth and scale of 

10          new business enterprises.  Since 2009, 

11          New York State has invested $14 million in 

12          six NYSERDA-sponsored incubators.  These 

13          incubators have assisted 153 companies, 

14          generated more than 1100 jobs in the clean 

15          tech industry, raised more than $270 million 

16          in private investment, and brought dozens of 

17          new clean energy products and solutions to 

18          the market.

19                 The third element of the portfolio, 

20          NY-Sun, is a $1 billion investment in solar, 

21          and continues to stimulate a self-sustaining 

22          solar industry, gradually reducing incentives 

23          as the industry builds to scale.  NY-Sun is 

24          an example of REV in action, and shows clear 


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 1          results.  Since the beginning of 2012, solar 

 2          deployed in New York State has grown over 

 3          750 percent.  New York is on pace to reach 

 4          1.5 gigawatts of solar energy deployment, 

 5          with more than 700 megawatts installed and 

 6          over 800 megawatts in the development 

 7          pipeline.  More than 8,100 New Yorkers worked 

 8          in the solar industry in 2016.  Our 

 9          strategies in the solar energy sector are 

10          working in New York.  

11                 NY Green Bank, the largest green bank 

12          in the nation, works to leverage 

13          private-sector capital into clean energy.  As 

14          of December 2016, NY Green Bank has closed 

15          18 transactions totaling $305 million of 

16          Green Bank money, which will result in 

17          approximately $1.26 billion in total clean 

18          energy projects in New York State.  This 

19          includes investments that will advance energy 

20          efficiency, wind power, solar, and fuel cell 

21          projects, among other technology types, which 

22          are difficult for the private sector to 

23          finance on its own today.

24                 NYSERDA also administers the Clean 


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 1          Energy Standard, or CES, which requires that 

 2          50 percent of New York's electricity come 

 3          from renewable energy resources by 2030.  

 4          This is the most comprehensive and ambitious 

 5          clean energy goal in the state's history.  In 

 6          January of this year, $360 million in awards 

 7          for 11 large-scale renewable energy projects 

 8          was announced.  These awards will leverage 

 9          almost $1 billion in private-sector 

10          investment and are expected to generate 

11          enough clean energy to power more than 

12          110,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by 

13          more than 420,000 metric tons.  

14                 The projects are spread across seven 

15          regions and include wind farms, fuel cell and 

16          hydro-electric projects, and one 50 megawatt 

17          utility-scale solar project, the largest of 

18          its kind in the state.  This is the kind of 

19          progress we must make to meet the 

20          Clean Energy Standard goals.  

21                 Offshore wind will also help New York 

22          meet the Clean Energy Standard.  As recently 

23          announced, the state's objective is to 

24          develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of 


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 1          cost-effective, appropriately sited offshore 

 2          wind by 2030, offering an enormous 

 3          opportunity to spur economic development 

 4          through new construction, manufacturing, and 

 5          supply chain growth.  

 6                 The LIPA Board of Trustees recently 

 7          approved a 90 megawatt development 30 miles 

 8          southeast of Montauk, the nation's largest 

 9          offshore wind farm, and the first in 

10          New York.  This South Fork Wind Farm will 

11          provide enough clean, renewable electricity 

12          to power 50,000 Long Island homes, and is out 

13          of sight from Long Island's beaches. 

14                 In December, the federal Bureau of 

15          Ocean Energy Management conducted an auction 

16          of federal water development rights for wind 

17          energy that was won by Statoil Wind.  The 

18          record-setting auction results demonstrate a 

19          robust market interest in developing wind 

20          resources off New York's coast.  

21                 NYSERDA is developing an Offshore Wind 

22          Master Plan which will be released by the end 

23          of 2017, this year.  NYSERDA will work with 

24          our partners and stakeholders as we outline 


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 1          specific steps the state will take to ensure 

 2          potential sites are developed responsibly, 

 3          and with the interests of New Yorkers as the 

 4          utmost priority.

 5                 The 2017-2018 Executive Budget 

 6          recommends $19.7 million in funding for 

 7          NYSERDA to continue energy research and 

 8          development, and statewide energy planning 

 9          and analysis activities.  In addition to our 

10          work under the Clean Energy Fund and Clean 

11          Energy Standard, the Governor has called on 

12          NYSERDA and the Department of Environmental 

13          Conservation to undertake a comprehensive 

14          study to determine the most rapid, 

15          cost-effective, and responsible pathway to 

16          reach 100 percent renewable energy statewide.

17                 For nearly four decades, NYSERDA has 

18          protected New York State interests at the 

19          West Valley Demonstration Project in 

20          Cattaraugus County.  The Executive Budget 

21          recommends $15.6 million for ongoing nuclear 

22          waste cleanup at West Valley, an increase of 

23          approximately $2.1 million over last year's 

24          budget.  Our costs at West Valley are largely 


                                                                  396

 1          dictated by a federal match requirement, and 

 2          this reflects the funding level necessary to 

 3          meet the federal appropriation during the 

 4          2016-2017 federal fiscal year.

 5                 A clean, affordable, resilient energy 

 6          system is essential to the growth of New York 

 7          State's economy.  We have the talent, the 

 8          natural resources, the global financial 

 9          markets, and a history of innovation.  Under 

10          Governor Cuomo, we are putting these 

11          resources to work for all New Yorkers.

12                 This concludes my opening remarks, and 

13          I would be happy to take any questions that 

14          you may have.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  We'll 

16          start with Senator O'Mara.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

18                 Good afternoon, Mr. Rhodes.  Thank you 

19          for being here.  I've got a few questions on 

20          all these projects, power projects that 

21          you're talking about, and basically how 

22          they're funded. 

23                 Your funding comes from the 

24          ratepayers, correct?  Various surcharges on 


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 1          everybody's utility bills?

 2                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  That's principally 

 3          the case.  And for the projects I believe 

 4          you're talking about, yes, that is the case.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How much does NYSERDA 

 6          collect annually in the form of surcharges 

 7          from the ratepayers' bills?

 8                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  This year I believe 

 9          we are collecting $580 million.  That 

10          represents a drop of $91 million from the 

11          peak.  Under the Clean Energy Fund, the 

12          $5 billion commitment that I mentioned, we 

13          are committed to reducing ratepayer 

14          collections by $1.5 billion over the next 

15          10 years.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yet you're still -- 

17          you're collecting $580 million this year --

18                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Correct.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  -- which is in 

20          addition and a surcharge on ratepayer's 

21          bills; that is, over and above what the cost 

22          of the commodity and the delivery is?

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  That's right.  And 

24          we put that money to work in investments to 


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 1          reduce ratepayer collections -- ratepayer 

 2          expenditures, excuse me.

 3                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How much of that 

 4          annual surcharge collected from ratepayers 

 5          goes towards improving the transmission of 

 6          electricity from upstate to downstate?

 7                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  None of it.  These 

 8          monies go to solutions that are listed, so 

 9          those are typically behind the meter.  It 

10          would include energy efficiency, which is a 

11          direct benefit in energy bill savings.  They 

12          include solar, photovoltaic, this would 

13          include fuel cells, anaerobic digesters, 

14          which we heard about this morning -- but 

15          these are distributed energy solutions.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So you're not 

17          focusing on transmission, then, from larger 

18          suppliers or from larger wind farms or solar 

19          farms being developed in upstate New York?

20                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We generally are 

21          not focused on transmission.  There's a 

22          modest exception to that which I can go into.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How much does NYSERDA 

24          have in reserve, or what is the balance of 


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 1          funds that's been collected from ratepayers 

 2          over the years that has not been spent on the 

 3          projects you've described?

 4                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So the Public 

 5          Service Commission order which established 

 6          the Clean Energy Fund includes a 

 7          bill-as-you-go approach for NYSERDA ratepayer 

 8          collections.  Under this approach, Clean 

 9          Energy Fund ratepayer collections and 

10          previously approved collections held by the 

11          utilities, the electric and the gas 

12          utilities, are used to reimburse NYSERDA for 

13          program expenses through a monthly 

14          reimbursement process.  

15                 The mechanism is for NYSERDA to 

16          maintain a sufficient cash balance for an 

17          anticipated two-month period with collection 

18          amounts approved in the order.  This approach 

19          is leading to a substantial reduction of the 

20          cash and investment and net position over the 

21          past -- over the last year, cash balances 

22          from ratepayer programs have been reduced 

23          from $1.1 billion down to $761 million, and 

24          they're continuing to go down under this 


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 1          pay-as-you-go approach.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So is that a -- 

 3          pay-as-you-go, would that be the same as 

 4          collect-as-you-go in what you need to 

 5          collect?  Or who's holding on to these --

 6                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yes.

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  -- reserves during 

 8          the period before you spend it?

 9                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  The reserves are 

10          generally held at the utilities in 

11          effectively escrow accounts.  And we are 

12          moving those numbers down.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Do you have an 

14          estimation, then, of what those reserves are 

15          in those accounts of the utilities?

16                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I believe they are 

17          $760 million.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Just sitting there?

19                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Sorry?

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Just sitting there in 

21          the escrow accounts of the utilities?  

22                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  And subject to 

23          ongoing commitment as we make further 

24          investment commitments.


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 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblywoman 

 4          Paulin.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.

 6                 Hi, John.

 7                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Hi.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Just a couple 

 9          of questions.  

10                 First, I asked the commissioner for 

11          the Department of Ags, you know, why there 

12          was that transfer for what looks like it's 

13          about a $2 million program, the -- maybe you 

14          weren't in the room yet -- the Fuel NY 

15          program.  

16                 And, you know, I was just curious 

17          about why -- you know, it's always a 

18          NYSERDA -- completely funded by NYSERDA.  And 

19          now NYSERDA's transferring $150,000 over to 

20          the Department of Ags for them to participate 

21          in a way that they claim to have participated 

22          in the past.  And I just wondered, you know, 

23          what the rationale for making that transfer 

24          was.


                                                                  402

 1                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So the transfer 

 2          this year is to support -- is for $150,000 to 

 3          support the ongoing costs at Ag and Markets 

 4          for their continued work under the Fuel NY 

 5          program.  The bulk of the expenditures under 

 6          Fuel NY are borne by NYSERDA.  

 7                 Up until now, this has been a portable 

 8          generator program where we've solicited 

 9          around 720 gas stations -- I'm sorry, we have 

10          solicited 630, and another 90 were doing it 

11          on their own -- gas stations around 

12          downstate -- Westchester, Rockland, the five 

13          boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk -- to be made 

14          ready, portable generators in the event of an 

15          emergency storm.  

16                 We are now, with a FEMA grant, 

17          pursuing a permanent generator solution and 

18          expect to have approximately 180 generators 

19          installed by the end of this year.  And that 

20          is a $12 million item in our budget.  So the 

21          bulk of the money is being run through 

22          NYSERDA.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So what's the 

24          role that the Department of Ags plays in that 


                                                                  403

 1          program?

 2                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  They have a role as 

 3          effectively a licensing authority interacting 

 4          with the individual gas stations.  So they 

 5          are of invaluable assistance in getting us 

 6          into conversations with the individual gas 

 7          stations, or with the chains that can speak 

 8          for them, and getting to the point where 

 9          contracts are in place so that we can install 

10          the switches and, in the event of an event, 

11          deploy the generators.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Having lived 

13          through that, I'm very appreciative of that 

14          program.

15                 So RGGI.  This year's Executive 

16          proposal again includes a transfer of 

17          $23 million from RGGI to the General Fund for 

18          clean energy tax credits and carbon reduction 

19          programs.  How much is uncommitted RGGI 

20          monies -- remains in NYSERDA's accounts?  Is 

21          that -- that's different than the monies that 

22          we were talking about, the assessments.

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  That's correct, 

24          that is a separate source of funds.  


                                                                  404

 1                 I -- may I get back to you with the 

 2          answer on our RGGI balances?

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Mm-hmm, 

 4          absolutely.

 5                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Electric 

 7          vehicles.  Last year we included a new 

 8          program that would have provided a rebate for 

 9          eligible vehicle purchase.  I'm wondering 

10          where we are on that, and have any rebates 

11          been issued pursuant to the program?  

12                 And related to the electric vehicles, 

13          the hybrid vehicles program, we have 

14          committed in this budget -- or the Governor's 

15          committed -- 500 new workplace charging 

16          stations by 2018.  

17                 And I just wondered, you know, what 

18          progress -- you know, what's the program 

19          going to look like?  Is there certain areas 

20          of concentration or roadways of 

21          concentration?

22                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So first with 

23          respect to the vehicle rebate program, the 

24          commitment -- which we will absolutely 


                                                                  405

 1          meet -- is to have this in place by the end 

 2          of the first quarter.  I can assure you that 

 3          we are -- there's no question about our being 

 4          able to meet that commitment.  The program is 

 5          nearly done, and it will fit exactly as set 

 6          forth in the budget agreed last year -- 

 7          rebates up to $2000, depending on the make 

 8          and the model, and the like.  

 9                 With respect to the charging stations, 

10          the 500 charging stations are essentially an 

11          expansion of some existing charging station 

12          programs where NYSERDA, but also our sister 

13          agency NYPA for certain locations, have 

14          installed about 1,600 to date.  And so the 

15          500 will be a natural extension -- the 500 

16          workplace charging stations that you 

17          reference will be a natural extension of the 

18          same mechanisms.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Are they in 

20          certain geographic areas, or are we spreading 

21          them out?  I mean, you know, what is the 

22          goal?

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We are working that 

24          out.  We're trying to achieve the right 


                                                                  406

 1          balance.  The way electric vehicles work, you 

 2          have the chicken-and-the-egg issue of 

 3          charging stations and vehicles, and it's hard 

 4          to justify a lot of charging stations without 

 5          a lot of vehicles, and vice versa.  That 

 6          leads to a value to densification.  On the 

 7          other hand, you want to cover the white 

 8          spaces.  

 9                 So we're trying to strike the right 

10          balance and doing some analysis to that 

11          effect.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Is there any 

13          consideration when those decisions are made 

14          to look at businesses that -- you know, for 

15          example, restaurants that might open at 

16          night, you know, when energy is cheaper and 

17          you're not looking at the highest-priced, 

18          dirtiest energy produced by a -- you know, 

19          when charging vehicles, is there any 

20          consideration toward, you know -- even though 

21          we don't do timed use, to do our own timed 

22          use to some degree?

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We're beginning to 

24          introduce those considerations.  In the past 


                                                                  407

 1          we've been focused mainly on trying to get -- 

 2          well, for workplace stations, it's relatively 

 3          straightforward, the employer agrees it's a 

 4          good thing.  For home charging stations, it's 

 5          relatively straightforward.  

 6                 For the so-called third-place charging 

 7          stations, we've been working to develop 

 8          business models that can appeal to the host.  

 9          So a Price Chopper may decide that, you know, 

10          they like it for X, Y, Z reasons and can 

11          support the investment.  Or a Starbucks may 

12          decide it -- so we've been focused mainly on 

13          helping hosts arrive at investment decisions, 

14          that this would be good for me.  

15                 But we are -- you're obviously right 

16          to point out that electric vehicle and 

17          electric vehicle charging can be of value to 

18          the energy system if you time it right.  And 

19          that's especially true as we get to the era 

20          of larger numbers.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  I would just 

22          suggest that, you know, electric car owners 

23          are usually buying them because they are 

24          environmentally minded.  So you want to 


                                                                  408

 1          encourage use during nighttime, which is 

 2          probably more home use than it is in actual 

 3          work stations.  

 4                 So I get the goal of wanting to 

 5          promote electric cars, I would just like to 

 6          also at the same time keep in mind who the 

 7          owners are and that we want to promote the 

 8          proper use of energy generally.

 9                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Absolutely.  We do 

10          realize that.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Finally, 

12          there's -- well, actually two more questions.

13                 One, there was a study that was 

14          proposed that NYSERDA would join with DEC, 

15          and I wonder if you could talk about, you 

16          know, the study -- it's to getting to 

17          100 percent renewable energy statewide.  So 

18          there wasn't a lot of specificity.

19                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.  

20                 So that, as you say, is a study to be 

21          undertaken jointly with the Department of 

22          Environmental Conservation.  We are going to 

23          get it done by the end of this year.  

24                 We have -- there are a couple of 


                                                                  409

 1          things to mention.  We already have some 

 2          existing work underway that is highly 

 3          relevant to that under our State Energy Plan 

 4          process.  We are called on to provide 

 5          biannual updates, and this is a year of a 

 6          biannual update, so we will be reporting on 

 7          our progress towards our State Energy Plan 

 8          goals, which in this context -- greenhouse 

 9          gases are 40 by '30, on the pathway to 80 by 

10          '50.  We already have some highly relevant -- 

11          what we call pathways analysis.  

12                 They talk about the technical options 

13          to get to 80 by '50, and so we are building 

14          on those building blocks and extending them.  

15          Because 100 is not just a higher number than 

16          80 or 50, but it's also qualitatively 

17          different, and we're taking those qualitative 

18          differences into consideration.  But this is 

19          one where DEC staff and NYSERDA staff and 

20          stakeholders and experts are already engaged.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And the 

22          timetable for this study?  Or --

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Before the end of 

24          the year.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Before the end 

 2          of the year.

 3                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yes.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And just 

 5          finally, the 11 projects that you've already 

 6          funded, there's 35 -- I believe 35 more to 

 7          go.  I just wondered if there's any areas in 

 8          particular, or just good projects, you know, 

 9          for large-scale renewables out there that -- 

10          you know, obviously wind is new, and that's 

11          great.  

12                 So I just wondered what was on the 

13          horizon and if you were looking at certain, 

14          again, geographic areas or specific renewable 

15          models.

16                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So we are -- we're 

17          trying to strike the right balance between 

18          being thoughtful and anticipatory and being 

19          market-reactive to where people who put their 

20          own money at risk tell us that the 

21          opportunities are.  

22                 So we are in the process of looking at 

23          areas that have -- that seem to be 

24          underrecognized in terms of wind resource and 


                                                                  411

 1          may also be areas that are more welcoming to 

 2          a wind project being sited there.  And it's 

 3          too early to get specific, but there are some 

 4          promising parts of the state where I think we 

 5          can get more done.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  I just have one 

 7          final question.  You know, last year we 

 8          talked a lot about -- and we continue to talk 

 9          a lot about -- worrying that people who can 

10          least afford their utility bills are offered 

11          programs to help them conserve.  And I wonder 

12          if you could just speak to some of NYSERDA's 

13          programs specifically about that market and 

14          what you're doing to help low-income 

15          ratepayers pay less.

16                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So our -- this is a 

17          little bit of a portfolio effort.  I think 

18          you heard Audrey, Chair Zibelman, talk about 

19          some of the work that Mike Corso is making 

20          happen at the commission that is about 

21          reducing the energy burden broadly.  

22                 NYSERDA's tools are really energy 

23          efficiency, so we go in and try to get 

24          projects done.  Our programs, one of them is 


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 1          called Empower, which is for the very lowest 

 2          incomes, below 60 percent of area median 

 3          income.  We provide 100 percent of the cost 

 4          for an energy efficiency upgrade.  It's 

 5          highly -- there's a lot of kinship with 

 6          Housing Community Renewable Program, the 

 7          Weatherization Assistance Program.  The 

 8          Governor instructed WAP and Empower together 

 9          to get to 20,000 homes this year.  So that's 

10          on our docket.  

11                 In addition, we have assisted programs 

12          for slightly higher bands of income.  Sixty 

13          to 80 gets 50 percent cost-share under 

14          something we call Assisted Home Performance.  

15          And then we have a Green Jobs-Green New York 

16          financing instrument which provides highly 

17          affordable interest rates for loans related 

18          to those projects.  Obviously not for the 

19          below 60, because with no cost share there's 

20          nothing to get a loan for.  But for the 60 to 

21          80 and 80 up to 120, and even a little bit 

22          higher, we provide subsidized -- we provide 

23          below-market interest to support those 

24          households, specifically in those areas where 


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 1          private financiers are not yet ready to go.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you very 

 3          much.

 4                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 6                 I just have a couple of questions.  I 

 7          wanted to ask the second part of 

 8          Assemblywoman Paulin's question about the 

 9          RGGI transfer to the General Fund.  And I was 

10          wondering, is there a specific purpose 

11          provided for this transfer?

12                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  The purpose of the 

13          $23 million, if that's what you're referring 

14          to --

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.

16                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  -- is for 

17          energy-oriented tax credits, and they are 

18          centrally in line with the use of the -- the 

19          directed use of RGGI funds, which is carbon 

20          abatement.  So these are investments that are 

21          entirely consistent with the goals of RGGI 

22          and entirely consistent with the work to 

23          continue New York's leadership in reducing 

24          carbon emissions.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you. 

 2                 What are the parameters of awarding 

 3          those grants?

 4                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We transfer them, I 

 5          believe, to -- ultimately to the EPF and 

 6          within the boundaries that are set forth for 

 7          the EPF at the time.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.

 9                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I can verify that 

10          and get back to you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That'd be great, 

12          John.

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Can you explain the 

15          suballocation of $150,000 worth of 18-a 

16          assessments to Fuel NY?  Could you address 

17          that, please?

18                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Right.  So 

19          that's -- I think Assemblywoman Paulin asked 

20          a related question.  So Fuel NY is our 

21          resiliency program that keeps gas stations on 

22          in the event of a power outage.  Ag and 

23          Markets is a really important partner in 

24          allowing us to work with individual gas 


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 1          stations and the chains that can speak for 

 2          them.  And so this is to support them in 

 3          their work supporting our work deploying 

 4          initially the switches for portable 

 5          generators and, in the future, actual 

 6          permanently-at-the-gas-station-installed 

 7          generators.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  So is this a 

 9          one-time allocation, or is this going to be 

10          an ongoing expense, is what I'm getting at.

11                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I don't know the 

12          answer to that.  But it's -- and the -- if we 

13          get the numbers of permanent generators 

14          installed -- which I think we are expecting 

15          186 -- that may do it for the requirement to 

16          be protective and provide resiliency 

17          downstate.  And that might be enough to 

18          signal a victory.  

19                 If we have to continue because we 

20          determine we need a few more or we determine 

21          that -- we realize we didn't get them all 

22          done in this year, that kind of support may 

23          continue into next year.  But it's a bound -- 

24          it's a time -- it's a mission-bounded bit of 


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 1          transfer.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 3                 Could you just address NY Prize a 

 4          little bit?  What is the status of it?

 5                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So NY Prize is 

 6          Governor Cuomo's $40 million community grid 

 7          competition.  It's foreseen to take place in 

 8          three rounds.  In the first round, I believe, 

 9          we awarded 83 prizes of $100,000 each for 

10          some initial design.  Most of those 83 came 

11          forward and submitted applications in their 

12          Round 2.  We are finalizing the awards of 

13          those and expect to be very close to that 

14          very soon.  And so that will be a number that 

15          is smaller than 83, and they will get about 

16          $1 million for really pretty thorough design 

17          work, which will then make them eligible to 

18          go on to Round 3,  which will be final awards 

19          of -- you know, to help with the actual 

20          construction of the project.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

22                 Of those 83 projects in the first 

23          phase, how many of those have been completed?

24                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Well, none.  The 


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 1          first phase was really a preliminary planning 

 2          activity.  A microgrid project is a multiyear 

 3          initiative, and you move through increasingly 

 4          thorough levels of planning and design.  So 

 5          we're working our way through the, you know, 

 6          through the maturing cycle of the project.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  So I 

 8          understand that it's a long-term proposition.  

 9          Have any of the 83 not started yet?

10                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Well, none of them 

11          have started.  We're still doing design work, 

12          increasingly detailed design work both on the 

13          technical aspects, on the interconnection 

14          aspects, and on the organizing aspects in 

15          terms of what would the role of the critical 

16          facilities, say the hospital, be in the 

17          project.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But has the design 

19          started on all 83 projects?

20                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yes.  Yes.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  That's 

22          what I was trying to get at.

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Sorry.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  What's the timeline 


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 1          for Phase 2?

 2                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Phase 2 should be 

 3          awarded shortly.  And then it will be I 

 4          believe mid-2018 before we're at the end 

 5          of -- at the Phase 3 awards.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  All right.  Thank 

 7          you.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblyman 

 9          Carroll.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you.  

11                 And thank you, Mr. Rhodes, for coming 

12          this afternoon.

13                 My first question is about what is 

14          NYSERDA and the state doing to incentivize 

15          homeowners and business owners and co-ops and 

16          condominiums to retrofit their buildings so 

17          that they become more energy efficient.  As 

18          you're probably aware, 75 percent of New York 

19          City's greenhouse emissions come from 

20          buildings.

21                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So energy 

22          efficiency is central to NYSERDA strategy, 

23          it's central to the State Energy Plan and 

24          it's central to the Clean Energy Standard.  


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 1                 The arithmetic says that if you reduce 

 2          the amount of energy you consume, it's easier 

 3          to get to 50 percent of what's left.  And 

 4          energy efficiency is what we call the first 

 5          resource in New York.  It's not especially a 

 6          new-construction state compared to some of 

 7          our Western states, so it's a retrofit 

 8          market.  And we have programs that attack, if 

 9          I can use that word, the retrofit challenge 

10          across sectors and across geographies.  

11                 So big sectors for us are commercial, 

12          they have the multifamily sector, they are 

13          the residential sector, and they are the 

14          industrial sector, and there are other 

15          sectors as well -- ag and the like.  We have 

16          active programs in each of those that provide 

17          cost share.  

18                 We have active programs in each of 

19          those that provide technical assistance.  And 

20          then we have tailored programs that are 

21          particularly suited to the attributes of 

22          specific sectors.  We work closely with local 

23          governments that are active on this front; 

24          New York City is one example.  And we work 


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 1          very closely with the utilities that are 

 2          engaged in parallel work on the same agenda.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  In that same 

 4          vein, do you have a specific program that 

 5          incentivizes homeowners or businesses to use 

 6          solar panels or geothermal to heat and cool 

 7          their homes?  

 8                 As you know, this will not only create 

 9          real carbon emission reductions but it will 

10          also decentralize our power grid, it will 

11          make it more resilient and efficient when 

12          mitigating future global warming impacts.

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So it's kind of a 

14          first premise of doing a retrofit that you 

15          rightsize the energy need.  So to the extent 

16          that a renewable solution can offset or take 

17          down the energy need, you want to do that 

18          first or at least calculate that first.  

19                 With respect -- you mentioned two 

20          technologies, solar and geothermal.  Under 

21          Governor Cuomo, we've had NY-Sun up and in 

22          action for I believe three years, four years 

23          now.  That is getting solar deployed in many 

24          different configurations, but importantly on 


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 1          many rooftops.  And with the advent of 

 2          community solar, which is permitted as of 

 3          last April, or April 18 months ago, we are 

 4          now making solar accessible to homes and 

 5          households that would not have had access 

 6          otherwise -- renters, multi-families, people 

 7          with inappropriate roofs and the like.  

 8                 Geothermal is a more recent area of 

 9          activity for us.  I believe it was last week 

10          that the Governor announced a $15 million 

11          program to accelerate the deployment of 

12          geothermal for homeowners -- well, for all 

13          kinds of customers, but specifically 

14          expecting the biggest uptick among 

15          residential homes and among commercial 

16          customers.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Switching notes, 

18          in New York City -- there are 16 

19          power-generating plants in New York City that 

20          are commonly referred to as peakers.  These 

21          power stations have an oversized carbon 

22          footprint and also cost customers much more 

23          when they are used in those few days in the 

24          summer when they turn on.  Does NYSERDA or 


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 1          the state have a plan to shut down these 

 2          plants or to find renewable sources so that 

 3          we stop using them?

 4                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Well, the premise 

 5          of REV, which is the premise that leads to 

 6          NYSERDA's focus on investing in energy 

 7          efficiency and heat pump geothermal and solar 

 8          and anaerobic digesters and the like, is to 

 9          offset the need for expensive alternative 

10          investments, which can include both 

11          transmission and distribution investments, 

12          substations and copper, and can also include 

13          generating capacity.  

14                 As these distributed solutions get 

15          deployed -- and they will get deployed 

16          increasingly as costs come down, which they 

17          are, and as we advance towards our 50 by '30 

18          goals and our energy efficiency goals, 

19          23 percent -- we will see the market diminish 

20          for peakers.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Also, according 

22          to NYISO, 5,000 miles of high-voltage wires 

23          are going to need to be replaced by 2030, at 

24          a cost of $25 billion.  What is NYSERDA's 


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 1          plan to make sure that those are as 

 2          energy-efficient as possible, and has the 

 3          state contemplated those costs and is it 

 4          prepared to outlay that much money in capital 

 5          expenditures?

 6                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So the state is 

 7          fully aware of the required infrastructure 

 8          investments that our aging and constrained 

 9          grid require.  It's a premise of REV that 

10          couldn't we find what we call demand-side 

11          alternatives that locally provide a cheaper, 

12          more cost-effective, more 

13          customer-choice-providing solution.  

14                 So one other premise of REV is that if 

15          we're going to spend dollars, can we spend 

16          them smartly and cleanly.  So that is going 

17          on.  

18                 NYSERDA generally has a very limited 

19          role in transmission.  We are really about 

20          energy solutions.  The one area where we do 

21          touch it is that we are committed to a 

22          10-year program of $150 million in what we 

23          call Smart Grid, which is really bringing 

24          intelligence to the system, and some of the 


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 1          solutions will be smart solutions on the 

 2          transmission grid.  And I could name some 

 3          technologies that are particularly relevant, 

 4          but I don't actually know a whole lot more 

 5          than their names, so -- PMUs and the like.  

 6                 So we are supporting technology 

 7          innovations that will get there, but other 

 8          than that, we have a very limited role in the 

 9          investments.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Krueger.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.  How are you?  

12          Thank you for all your testimony.  

13                 So we're all talking about renewable 

14          electricity and the Governor's goal to get to 

15          100 percent.  Right, renewable electricity, 

16          is that correct?

17                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  He's asked 

18          for a plan to get to 100 percent.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  What are we at now?

20                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  I would 

21          have to get back to you.  I believe it's 27 

22          or so percent.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Twenty-seven?  So 

24          it's a -- we have a big jump to make to get 


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 1          there.

 2                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  We have a 

 3          line of sight to 50 by '30 and know we can 

 4          get there.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And there were 

 6          questions about the electric cars before, and 

 7          the rollout of proposals from last year.  And 

 8          then this year -- I'm not sure it's in your 

 9          budget -- but a plan for 500 more charging 

10          stations plus 60-something additional on the 

11          Thruway?  

12                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Sixty-nine 

13          on the Thruway, I believe.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So where are we in 

15          the sort of, I guess, time frame of what you 

16          were hoping to get to for electric vehicles?

17                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  We have 

18          about 15,000 electric vehicles on the road.  

19          We need to and expect to accelerate the 

20          penetration of electric vehicles into the 

21          fleet.  We know the technology and the 

22          economics that flow from technology are 

23          working in our favor.  But we are -- we're 

24          researching, you know, the most 


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 1          cost-effective approaches we can take to 

 2          accelerate that, as NYSERDA and also 

 3          statewide.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Jumping back to my 

 5          first question, so we're at 27 percent, give 

 6          or take -- your estimate.  We want to get to 

 7          50 percent by 2030.  Is that the Governor's 

 8          commitment?  Is that right?

 9                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yes.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  What is on the 

11          horizon that's going to give us our biggest 

12          jumps?  Is it the solar plants?  Is it the 

13          wind offshore?  What?

14                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  (Pause.)  

15          I'm sorry, I'm doing some math.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  That's okay.

17                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  A very big 

18          contributor will be energy efficiency.  As I 

19          sort of said, you know, math works for you.  

20          If you only have to get to 50 percent of 80 

21          instead of 50 percent of 100, that's easier.  

22          So that's a big one.  

23                 We are really heartened by the 

24          progress that Governor Cuomo's NY-SUN is 


                                                                  427

 1          making and expect to beat the numbers, which 

 2          is 3 gigawatts under NY-Sun, probably by, I 

 3          don't know, 2023 or '24, with more flowing 

 4          than that because the market is now, on its 

 5          own, self-sustaining and booming.  We know 

 6          this could work because it's been about 

 7          10 months since we've paid our last incentive 

 8          on a rooftop on Long Island, and the market 

 9          hasn't missed a beat, and they're still 

10          deploying there even without NY-SUN 

11          incentives.

12                 That will be an important and critical 

13          wedge.  We certainly expect that to, if 

14          anything, go up from where we're looking now 

15          because of community solar, which, as I 

16          mentioned, opens a whole new set of 

17          customers.  For the near term, the first half 

18          of our period to 2030, the biggest 

19          contributor -- or the second, behind energy 

20          efficiency, is going to be large-scale 

21          onshore wind.  By the time we get to the 

22          second half of our time period to 2030 -- so 

23          the mid-'20s or so, we expect to see 

24          utility-scale solar come into play and we 


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 1          expect to see offshore wind come into play on 

 2          the path to Governor Cuomo's 2.4 -- up to 

 3          2.4 gigawatts spinning by 2030.  

 4                 Those are the -- so efficiency, solar, 

 5          large-scale onshore wind, utility-scale 

 6          solar, and offshore wind.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And what's the 

 8          biggest efficiency model we have for going 

 9          forward?

10                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  The 

11          biggest?

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Efficiency 

13          improvement model.

14                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Did you say 

15          model?

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yeah.  Or just give 

17          me an example of what the biggest win will be 

18          from efficiency, since we're depending on 

19          that so much.

20                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  We -- we -- 

21          if you'll pardon the unprofessional language, 

22          we expect to make the first and fastest 

23          progress in big buildings.  So this is 

24          commercial office, institutional, and 


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 1          especially an acceleration in multifamily 

 2          buildings, where we believe the market is 

 3          ready, we believe that solutions are coming 

 4          into their own and, you know, the economics 

 5          are just getting better and the awareness on 

 6          the customer side is increasing that this is 

 7          smart building management.  

 8                 We have a lot of residential homes in 

 9          the state, and fully expect to make great 

10          progress on those.  

11                 And, you know, I don't want to leave 

12          the industrial sector as kind of a last but 

13          not least.  The good news/bad news is that 

14          they're relatively sophisticated energy 

15          managers as it is, especially if they have a 

16          high energy component.  And they're doing 

17          quite well, which is obviously a good thing 

18          if you're looking at where you are, but it 

19          means that the next steps are harder.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblyman Otis.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Hi, Mr. Rhodes.  

23          Nice to see you, President Rhodes.

24                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you for all 

 2          the interesting, innovative programs you have 

 3          to get all of this going.  I think that 

 4          NYSERDA has come a long way under your 

 5          leadership.  

 6                 A question about one specific area, 

 7          which is the programs that you offer for 

 8          local governments and school districts, which 

 9          are good programs.  But the problem that I'm 

10          hearing is they often would like to do good 

11          energy efficiency things -- solar, bring 

12          solar on -- and even with the technical 

13          expertise, could use more of a financial help 

14          to get them to be able to fit into their 

15          budgets.

16                 Is there -- can you go back with your 

17          folks at NYSERDA and think are there other 

18          ways to think about those activities and grow 

19          those programs with maybe some grant money or 

20          other incentives to make the move by those 

21          public entities towards more energy 

22          efficiency more possible?

23                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yes, we 

24          can.  I think one important element of that 


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 1          will be continued increasing collaboration 

 2          with NYPA, the New York Power Authority, 

 3          which in many cases has these local 

 4          governments and school districts as their 

 5          customers.  So that's a natural partner.  

 6                 But we absolutely appreciate the 

 7          importance of local government both as a 

 8          consumer who can reduce their energy as well 

 9          as an agitator for local energy action.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  The Power Authority 

11          and also the private utility companies offer 

12          programs at times for municipalities in these 

13          areas, but the affordability factor to make 

14          more of this activity happen just isn't 

15          there.  And I hear that frustration from some 

16          of the locals.  

17                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  We'll look 

18          harder.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Okay.  Thank you 

20          very much.

21                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

23                 Just one more question.  You 

24          referenced something in my district in your 


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 1          testimony, and that was the West Valley 

 2          Demonstration Project.  And certainly I've 

 3          represented West Valley for many years and 

 4          understand the situation.  

 5                 But are there any new updates?  And I 

 6          know it's a federal issue driven by the feds, 

 7          but also we have a very strong participation 

 8          in the project.  So are there any new 

 9          developments that you could share?

10                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  I -- I 

11          could -- I'd rather find time to brief you on 

12          the specific issues associated with the 

13          demonstration project and the work.  I know 

14          that everything is going well in terms of the 

15          decommissioning work that we were aiming for 

16          and the site management and the like.  I also 

17          know that we're -- I think this is germane -- 

18          in healthy discussions with the Town of 

19          Ashford on kind of helping them arrive at a 

20          community solar project for --

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I was 

22          hoping you would bring that up.  That's 

23          something that I know the town is very 

24          interested in.  And of course they have 


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 1          struggled with having the site within their 

 2          town for many, many years, and it certainly 

 3          has stymied any kind of economic development 

 4          as far as bringing in new business or 

 5          opportunities.  

 6                 So that would be great if you continue 

 7          to work with them --

 8                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Well --

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  If you could brief 

10          me too at some point -- 

11                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  We'll brief 

12          you, and we'll continue with the Town of 

13          Ashford.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you so much.  

15          We appreciate it.  

16                 Okay, I think that wraps things up for 

17          you today, so thank you for your 

18          participation.

19                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

21          Director of Public Policy Jeff Williams, from 

22          the New York Farm Bureau.  Coming from the 

23          top.  That's what we call a grand entrance.  

24                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Sorry for the wait.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Welcome.

 2                 MR. WILLIAMS:  So thank you for 

 3          listening to me after this long day.  I will 

 4          make my comments very short, but obviously 

 5          open up to questions if you have any 

 6          afterwards.  

 7                 First of all, I want to thank you, 

 8          Senator Young, obviously Mr. Oaks, and our 

 9          chairs in both the Assembly and Senate of the 

10          Agriculture Committees for all the work you 

11          did last year in restoring budget 

12          restorations for the Ag and Markets budget, 

13          EPF, things like that.  It was a tremendous 

14          amount of work.  We couldn't be happier with 

15          the $300 million EPF.  

16                 Likewise, we're extremely happy for 

17          the $300 million EPF this year, but also for 

18          $5 million for fair infrastructure, which was 

19          truly a godsend for local fairs across the 

20          state.  Fairs are our first line of defense, 

21          our first -- you know, on the ground, 

22          boots-on-the-ground promotion of the 

23          agricultural industry, and $5 million to 

24          rehab that kind of an effort is tremendous.


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 1                 So now we're looking forward, 

 2          obviously, to the new budget, the Governor's 

 3          Executive Budget.  And we're terming it as a 

 4          good start, but obviously more work needs to 

 5          be done.  You heard the questions for 

 6          Commissioner Ball earlier today.  But we need 

 7          to layer the Governor's budget with the fact 

 8          that over the past couple of years, we've had 

 9          a tremendous decrease in our dairy industry 

10          in prices.  We're headed into a third year of 

11          a tremendous dairy decline in prices.  Farm 

12          Credit East, our major lender in the 

13          Northeast, found that in years '15 and '16, 

14          the industry lost a billion dollars just from 

15          the dairy prices.  The global economy is not 

16          what it was.  Consumption is way down.  

17                 So for the past two years, dairy 

18          farmers have been producing milk way above, 

19          in cost, what they get back for their 

20          product.  Prices are below cost of 

21          production.  We're entering into a third year 

22          of that trough.  So things aren't looking up 

23          as well.  So we're tremendously concerned 

24          about that.  


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 1                 Then you add the drought last summer 

 2          to that mix, and things are bleak in the farm 

 3          industry across the state.  

 4                 In the Governor's budget we're very 

 5          happy that he has continued his trend of 

 6          fully funding mainline public health and 

 7          agricultural health programs, typically run 

 8          by Cornell.  Whether it's our poultry 

 9          industry, with avian disease protection, 

10          dairy, with Johne's disease, the diagnostic 

11          lab -- he doesn't mess around with that, and 

12          we're thankful for not politicizing those 

13          funding streams.  

14                 As far as research and promotion of 

15          our industry, we don't rely on ESDC for those 

16          promotional funds.  Ag and Markets is our 

17          ESDC when it comes to research and promotion.  

18          So when our apple industry, maple industry, 

19          berry industry, and others get money in the 

20          budget -- and all of them do not have money 

21          in the budget right now -- that money goes 

22          directly to their promotion of their 

23          industry, not just in the state but across 

24          the world, which is great to see.  


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 1                 Likewise, research.  We have a 

 2          tremendous amount of research that needs to 

 3          be done to keep farms operating on a global 

 4          level with competition.  And so the funding 

 5          for research has not been included in the 

 6          Governor's budget, and we're relying, 

 7          hopefully, upon the Legislature to restore 

 8          funding for those things.  

 9                 Commissioner Ball did talk about the 

10          FFA program and the needs there in the 

11          Governor's budget.  We're happy the Governor 

12          dedicated $350,000 for grants to new FFA 

13          programs, but he didn't add any other money 

14          to support core programming for the FFA 

15          program.  So $300,000 will be needed actually 

16          just to keep the administrative efforts going 

17          to support current and ongoing efforts in 

18          expansion for the FFA, especially when those 

19          FFA kids at the high school level, secondary 

20          level, are our bridge to the next generation 

21          of farms.  They're the people who go to 

22          Cornell, Morrisville, Cobleskill, Alfred 

23          State, and then carry on in transition to the 

24          next generation of farmers.  


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 1                 As far as the EPF goes, we're very 

 2          happy with what the Governor has proposed so 

 3          far.  It's a toolbox of environmental 

 4          programs that help water quality, protect 

 5          land, combat invasive species, and work on 

 6          the ground with our soil and water 

 7          conservation districts.  

 8                 New last year in the EPF, which we're 

 9          happy is continued, is $1 million for the IPM 

10          program, is which basically is a full 

11          complement of strategies to help farmers 

12          combat pests on their farms without using 

13          pesticides right off the bat.  Going out and 

14          scouting and looking to see what the problems 

15          are and then using the right product in the 

16          end helps reduce pesticide use in the state.  

17                 Likewise, pollinator protection plans, 

18          funding for that.  Farmers rely on 

19          pollinators, obviously, for their crops.  We 

20          need healthy bees and a healthy environment.  

21                 And new this year, a Clean Sweep 

22          Program, which we've relied on for decades, 

23          that came from a settlement funding at DEC to 

24          help farmers get rid of used or unwanted or 


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 1          unregistered pesticides.  That has been put 

 2          into the EPF, and we're thankful for that.  

 3                 And two more things we're watching 

 4          very closely, the $2 billion Clean Water 

 5          Infrastructure Act.  We've heard from the 

 6          Governor's office that a substantial fund of 

 7          money from that will be going to help large 

 8          dairy farms meet the very strong and strict 

 9          regulatory guidelines to protect water 

10          quality, otherwise known as CAFO.  So we are 

11          hoping at the end of March, in the final 

12          budget, that that funding will be included.  

13          Because to put in, let's say, a manure lagoon 

14          to control and store your manure for four to 

15          six months, that costs $300,000 to $500,000.  

16          Again with the aforementioned dairy prices, 

17          farmers cannot pay that kind of cost.  This 

18          is a cost-sharing program for them, so we're 

19          watching that very intently and are very 

20          supportive.  

21                 And I guess I would be remiss if I 

22          didn't mention two things outside of this 

23          table, the purview of this table, which are 

24          much more revenue-oriented.  We're very 


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 1          supportive of a refundable investment tax 

 2          credit, again to combat the drought, dairy 

 3          prices, to allow farmers to reinvest 

 4          much-needed funding into their farms and then 

 5          receive some money on the back end in their 

 6          taxes as an incentive to do so.  

 7                 The second one is we're grateful for 

 8          the minimum wage tax credit for farms to help 

 9          offset the cost of minimum wage increases, 

10          and there's a schedule of five years per 

11          employee, how much a farmer can deduct on 

12          their taxes.  We're strongly advocating 

13          doubling that regime.  And so it makes it 

14          more meaningful for a farmer to have 

15          employees, especially at a time when they are 

16          not making money at all.  

17                 But again, I thank you very much for 

18          the time today.  I thank you for all your 

19          work on the budget and concern for the 

20          agricultural industry.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Director 

22          Williams.  

23                 I'm very concerned about the plight of 

24          the dairy farmers.  They are so crucial to 


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 1          our upstate economy.  And as you know, I was 

 2          chair of the Ag Committee in 2006-2007 when 

 3          we had a severe crisis.  And milk prices go 

 4          up and milk prices go down, but it seems like 

 5          when they go down, they go way down and they 

 6          stay there.

 7                 We used to tie it to the Chicago 

 8          Mercantile Exchange and the situations that 

 9          happen in regards to that.  But you're 

10          talking now about a global economic situation 

11          where it's market conditions, and there seems 

12          to be a glut of milk worldwide.  Why is that?  

13          Are there more producers in different 

14          countries?  Are we not marketing our milk 

15          well enough from the USA?  Are there trade 

16          conditions that are factors?  What's going 

17          on?

18                 MR. WILLIAMS:  The answer is yes, all 

19          of the above.  There is too much milk on the 

20          market on a global basis.  

21                 Typically -- and we hate to hope for 

22          these things -- there's a drought in 

23          Australia, a weather disaster someplace else 

24          in the world that then reduces the production 


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 1          of milk.  We don't hope for that, but that's 

 2          typically what helps drive increases in farm 

 3          prices.  

 4                 So we have a lot of milk which we just 

 5          can't get off our hands and, frankly, not 

 6          enough processing in New York State to 

 7          process.  And then you layer on other unique 

 8          situations, like a dry protein plant, milk 

 9          protein plant in Central New York that is a 

10          $100 million plant, and their whole reason 

11          for being, their business plan, is to ship to 

12          Canada.  And Canadians have become entirely 

13          provincial when it comes to their dairy 

14          production, and they don't like other people 

15          playing in their backyard, and they're 

16          basically shutting down the border.  

17                 And so that plant uses a lot of milk, 

18          it's a major employer in Western New York, 

19          and it's -- they're in jeopardy of closing 

20          the doors.

21                 So it's a lot of different things.  

22          But I agree with you, the dairy troughs used 

23          to be quicker.  We used to get out of them in 

24          a year.  And now we're going into Year 3, and 


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 1          it's tough, tough, tough.  Especially when 

 2          you layer on increased labor costs and other 

 3          increases.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you talked about 

 5          a refundable tax credit for farmers and you 

 6          spoke of minimum wage tax relief to help them 

 7          be able to afford the minimum wage hike.  

 8          What else can we do?  Obviously some of the 

 9          worldwide factors are under the purview of 

10          the federal government.  But what can we do 

11          as a state to try to help the dairy farmers 

12          get out of where they're at right now?  

13                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Yeah, that's the 

14          $800 million question.  

15                 Certainly tax credits help prime the 

16          pump.  I certainly think that increased 

17          capacity for processing, to get more milk 

18          from the farms processed and then out the 

19          door, especially in the Southern Tier.  I 

20          know there's some really aging plants in 

21          Campbell, Savona, and other areas of that 

22          region of the state that we need to 

23          reinvigorate.  I know Ag and Markets is 

24          investing in upstate New York.  But in the 


                                                                  444

 1          end, it's a big shakeout.  And hopefully we 

 2          can all ride it out.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I 

 4          assume the Farm Bureau is lobbying Washington 

 5          as far as some of these issues too?  

 6                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Yeah.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And hopefully with 

 8          the new administration you're able to find a 

 9          sympathetic ear to be able to maybe change 

10          some of the trade policies.

11                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Yeah.  I mean, there's 

12          some very close friends of New York Farm 

13          Bureau and Farm Bureau itself that are, you 

14          know, very prominently placed in the Trump 

15          administration.  So we're hopeful that 

16          they'll carry that message, especially with 

17          the whole Canadian issue.  

18                 Obviously we're very concerned for the 

19          presidential administration's viewpoints on 

20          immigration.  We had a conversation earlier 

21          about access to foreign labor.  We always 

22          have been a major proponent of immigration 

23          reform, and we continue to carry that message 

24          this year.


                                                                  445

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.

 2                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Just a quick 

 4          question, Jeff.  

 5                 I know you talked about the 

 6          billion-dollar reduction basically in dairy 

 7          income.  I've seen some headlines, you know, 

 8          that said agriculture was down a billion 

 9          dollars.  Is that accurate, in looking at the 

10          rest of agriculture outside of dairy, it was 

11          about flat for '16, or not?

12                 MR. WILLIAMS:  That's a good question.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  I know dairy is 

14          like half of the overall income for --

15                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Right.  Yeah, exactly.  

16          That number incorporates all aspects of 

17          agriculture.  Obviously, dairy being 

18          60 percent of our industry, it contributes a 

19          lot to that.  And that's just for '15-'16.  

20          We haven't seen the 2016 numbers yet.  We 

21          expect it to be down even further when those 

22          numbers come out.  A lot of it is dairy, 

23          because we've lost our export market.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Well, I do hope 


                                                                  446

 1          that we're able to, you know, as a part of 

 2          the budget, restore a number of things, work 

 3          with you on that, and hopefully find some 

 4          ways -- Senator Young, you know, asked for 

 5          some direction -- but how we can help work 

 6          together to strengthen agriculture in 

 7          New York.

 8                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Thank you very much.  

 9          It's very complicated when it comes to dairy 

10          because there's so many different federal -- 

11          it's a federally regulated system, so to ask 

12          the state to get involved in that, it's a 

13          tough ask.  And so we rely on the state to 

14          deal more on the cost side, to help mitigate 

15          those -- those troughs in pricing.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

18                 MR. WILLIAMS:  Thank you very much.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

20          Darren Suarez, director of government affairs 

21          for the Business Council of the State of New 

22          York.

23                 Welcome, Darren. 

24                 MR. SUAREZ:  So thank you very much 


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 1          for having me here this afternoon, or early 

 2          evening.  And I'd like to share with you some 

 3          of the thoughts regarding the 2017-2018 

 4          environmental and energy Executive Budget. 

 5                 The Business Council recently issued 

 6          our "Back to Business" advocacy agenda for 

 7          2017, with an emphasis on legislation with 

 8          broad positive impacts on the state's 

 9          economic climate.  Our comments today are 

10          strongly influenced by the advocacy agenda as 

11          it relates to energy and environmental 

12          issues, and today my testimony will focus 

13          purely on water quality issues, making it 

14          much shorter.  

15                 New York State, like other states, 

16          faces real challenges to our water 

17          infrastructure.  Our water treatment and 

18          delivery systems provide public health 

19          protection and are valuable components to 

20          both manufacturing processing and food 

21          preparation, and also have resulted in a 

22          higher quality of life for residents of the 

23          state.  

24                 The New York Legislature and the 


                                                                  448

 1          Governor deserve credit for first 

 2          acknowledging that we have significant water 

 3          infrastructure deficiencies and for 

 4          committing resources to address those 

 5          deficiencies.  

 6                 This year, as part of the Clean Water 

 7          Infrastructure Act of 2017, the Executive 

 8          Budget proposes a $2 billion, multiyear 

 9          commitment to support capital investments in 

10          water and sewer infrastructure.  Legislation 

11          was also introduced in the Senate and 

12          Assembly that would authorize the creation of 

13          a $5 billion Clean Water Bond Act.  The 

14          Business Council applauds the Executive and 

15          the Legislature for their continued 

16          commitment to drinking water and wastewater 

17          infrastructure improvements, and we strongly 

18          support efforts to provide additional funding 

19          for critical investment in drinking water 

20          infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, 

21          and drinking water protection.  

22                 The Executive Budget's Part II, 

23          labeled the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, 

24          includes a number of statutory programs and 


                                                                  449

 1          amendments to current remedial programs.  The 

 2          Business Council recommends this part be 

 3          amended specifically to address matters 

 4          related to drinking water.  

 5                 Section 4 includes a new Title 12 to 

 6          Article 27 of the Environmental Conservation 

 7          Law that would grant the DEC the power to 

 8          compel the cleanup and abatement of solid 

 9          waste sites and drinking water contamination 

10          without due process protections or public 

11          input.  New York already has a number of 

12          remedial programs, including the state 

13          Superfund Program, the Oil Spill Program, to 

14          mandate the remediation of different types of 

15          pollutants.  Those programs have not only 

16          resulted in the cleanup of thousands of 

17          sites, but also the abandonment of thousands 

18          of properties throughout the state because of 

19          the fear of liability.  The newly proposed 

20          Title 12 will create significant uncertainty, 

21          as it would allow the DEC to enter any 

22          property to investigate and remediate any 

23          discarded material.  The owner or operator of 

24          the site then is required to implement all 


                                                                  450

 1          remedial measures deemed necessary by the 

 2          DEC.  If the owner fails to implement the 

 3          measures, the DEC may implement the 

 4          remediation and place a lien on the owner or 

 5          operator's real property.  

 6                 The DEC could do all this without 

 7          commencing a hearing or issuing an order. 

 8          There is no limit to the size or the level of 

 9          the remediation that the DEC could conduct, 

10          and the owner or operator would be afforded 

11          no statutory defenses to liability like the 

12          secured creditor or third-party polluter 

13          exemptions.  Furthermore, the public is 

14          provided no opportunity to provide input on 

15          the remedial design.  

16                 In addition, Title 12 would allow the 

17          Commissioner of Health to require that all 

18          reasonable measures be taken to reduce 

19          exposure to a contaminant.  The provision 

20          does not require the contaminant exceed a 

21          health-based standard, merely the presence of 

22          contaminant is enough to require action. 

23          Furthermore, a contaminant can include any 

24          physical, chemical, microbiological or 


                                                                  451

 1          radiological substance that the Commissioner 

 2          of Heath declares may have the potential to 

 3          be a health hazard.  

 4                 The required remedial measures may 

 5          include the installation of a drinking water 

 6          treatment system and source removal.  

 7          Municipal drinking water treatment systems 

 8          can cost anywhere between $1 million and 

 9          $100 million.  The DEC is required by 

10          Title 12 to recover the full amount of the 

11          cost of the remedial system and any 

12          associated remediation from any owner, 

13          operator, or party that contributed to the 

14          contamination.  

15                 Past experience has demonstrated that 

16          in many cases, particularly where the 

17          contamination may involve multiple sources or 

18          substances and multiple potentially 

19          responsible parties, liability for the 

20          proposed disposal may not be traceable to a 

21          particular source.  Consequently, remedial 

22          enforcement targets for liability the party 

23          who may be most readily identifiable -- 

24          typically, the current owner or operator -- 


                                                                  452

 1          or who may have the deepest pockets.  The net 

 2          effect is that a party with only a slight 

 3          relationship to the site, or to the hazardous 

 4          substance disposed there, may be held 

 5          responsible for a disproportionate share or 

 6          even all of the response costs of the 

 7          cleanup.  

 8                 An essential tenet of the American 

 9          justice system is that a person should not be 

10          held responsible and compelled to pay for 

11          injuries which that person did not cause. 

12          Because the proposed liability framework in 

13          Title 12 is grounded not on causation, but on 

14          the status of the party as an owner or 

15          operator, many innocent landowners could face 

16          strict liability even though they may have 

17          done nothing to contribute to the contaminant 

18          of concern.  

19                 Moreover, the innocent landowner 

20          cannot conduct meaningful due diligence prior 

21          to purchasing the property, given the broad 

22          latitude that Title 12 provides for the DEC 

23          and DOH to determine what is a contaminant 

24          and to establish remedial action levels based 


                                                                  453

 1          on a declaration that a contaminant may be 

 2          harmful to human health.  

 3                 The failings of Title 12 are too many 

 4          to amend, as it would require at minimum the 

 5          establishment of standards, due process, and 

 6          statutory protections of the innocent.  The 

 7          Business Council instead recommends current 

 8          laws and programs be amended to increase 

 9          protections for drinking water in the state.   

10          Title 4 of Article 56 of the ECL, the 

11          landfill closure program, could be expanded 

12          and fully funded.  In 2010, the State of 

13          New Hampshire found 67 sites contained 

14          1,4-dioxane.  Thirty of these sites were 

15          solid waste landfills.  

16                 Title 13 could be amended to provide 

17          DEC with a similar authorization that EPA 

18          has, pursuant to CERCLA, that allows EPA to 

19          respond to the release or substantial threat 

20          of release of any pollutant or contaminant 

21          that may present an imminent and substantial 

22          danger to the public health or welfare.  

23                 And we'd also recommend developing a 

24          new program that contains a rapidly awardable 


                                                                  454

 1          allocation for planning and implementation 

 2          grants for emergency drinking water issues, 

 3          whether caused by a chemical or biological 

 4          condition.  

 5                 Section 2 of the proposals would 

 6          establish a new land acquisition program 

 7          dedicated to the protection of state water 

 8          resources.  The newly proposed land 

 9          acquisition program does not contain the 

10          detail, review and planning required under 

11          current law for open space projects, and does 

12          not require that projects be directly related 

13          to drinking water protection or state land 

14          acquisition projects that are consistent with 

15          a plan developed by the public water system. 

16                 This program should be amended to 

17          ensure that the interests of local 

18          governments and local public water systems 

19          are being considered and the land 

20          acquisitions would protect drinking water.  

21                 The Business Council strongly supports 

22          efforts to provide additional funding for 

23          critical investment in drinking water 

24          infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, 


                                                                  455

 1          and drinking water protection.  We support 

 2          the development of a lead service line 

 3          replacement program contained in the 

 4          proposal, but we have concerns with many of 

 5          the other provisions contained in Part II.  

 6                 The Business Council believes that 

 7          decisions regarding drinking water, 

 8          wastewater treatment, remediation, and 

 9          enforcement should be guided by scientific 

10          understanding.  Currently, significant data 

11          gaps exist regarding the human health effects 

12          of detectable levels of contaminants in 

13          drinking water, and scientists have 

14          difficulty predicting the effects of drinking 

15          small amounts of contaminants for many years. 

16                 Furthermore, standards do not take 

17          into account the presence of multiple 

18          chemicals, which may increase or decrease the 

19          toxicity of a particular contaminant.  More 

20          research should be conducted on contaminants 

21          and their health effects, and this research 

22          should be conducted at a national level and 

23          should be done quickly, as our current rate 

24          of review of these contaminants needs to 


                                                                  456

 1          occur in a more timely manner.

 2                 Thank you very much for your 

 3          consideration in this matter.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 5          Director.  And it's great to have you here.  

 6          We appreciate your testimony.  

 7                 I just had a couple of questions.  You 

 8          talked about the hidden taxes regarding 

 9          energy, and I fully support you in your 

10          comments.  The 18A tax surcharge, as you 

11          know, is almost close to being phased out, 

12          and it was the Senate majority that pushed to 

13          do that.

14                 But what are your thoughts about, you 

15          know, additional taxes?  Could you expound on 

16          that a little bit?  Because you talk about 

17          everyday New Yorkers and families and 

18          seniors, and these hidden taxes seem to hit 

19          them hard, in addition to the businesses 

20          across the state.  So could you expound on 

21          that a little bit?

22                 MR. SUAREZ:  Sure.  First off, thank 

23          you, Senator, for all your work basically on 

24          helping to address 18A, and all of the 


                                                                  457

 1          members here.  As you're aware, 18A -- 

 2          basically, the temporary assessment, which at 

 3          one point in time was close to half a billion 

 4          dollars, is being completely phased out on 

 5          March 31st this year.  So that's great news.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Very positive.

 7                 MR. SUAREZ:  Unfortunately, there are 

 8          certainly other taxes and hidden fees that go 

 9          on our energy bill.  The largest one actually 

10          is real property tax.  And so the Legislature 

11          again has addressed that by putting a cap on 

12          the real property tax.  That actually will 

13          help to actually lower our energy prices.  

14                 What we do notice is that when we 

15          produce -- basically are manufacturing a 

16          product, we're at a competitive disadvantage 

17          when our energy costs are higher than 

18          competitive states, or they're projected to 

19          be.  So sometimes we actually may be 

20          receiving a lower energy cost right now, but 

21          we could have projections that see 

22          significant increases.  

23                 And we've seen a lot of the social 

24          programs that are being put on the energy 


                                                                  458

 1          bill right now, whether it's the Clean Energy 

 2          Fund or the Clean Energy Standard or 

 3          otherwise, that may have positive effects but 

 4          they will increase the cost of energy 

 5          immediately.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  It 

 7          certainly seems like a step backward when we 

 8          have the 18A almost phased out, by the end of 

 9          March, and then there are new taxes added to 

10          utilities.  It doesn't seem like the right 

11          direction to take.

12                 You talked about your concerns with 

13          Section 4 of the new Title 12 to Article 27 

14          of the Environmental Conservation Law.  And 

15          we are concerned about blanket authority 

16          without due process of law.  And can you 

17          think of any other instance where this 

18          situation is utilized in New York State where 

19          somebody doesn't have any recourse in such a 

20          situation?  

21                 MR. SUAREZ:  In most cases they do 

22          have an opportunity at least to have an 

23          Article 78 proceeding.  But under larger 

24          remediations under the Superfund program, 


                                                                  459

 1          there's plenty of opportunity for all parties 

 2          to have a say.  So there really isn't 

 3          anything equal to this.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So this is 

 5          unprecedented.

 6                 MR. SUAREZ:  It truly is 

 7          unprecedented.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Krueger.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So you just answered 

12          Senator Young that you object to the 

13          assessment on utility bills.  But do you 

14          support or oppose the new assessment on 

15          utility bills for the continuation of the 

16          nuclear energy plants for 12 years?

17                 MR. SUAREZ:  So it's a great question.  

18          And we certainly have a variety of different 

19          opinions in our membership on that particular 

20          piece.  I think in the Clean Energy Standard 

21          and the assessment associated with nuclear 

22          assessments, there was a feeling that maybe 

23          that cost was pretty large, but there was 

24          clearly a direct return in terms of the 


                                                                  460

 1          reduction of the wholesale cost for energy 

 2          users.  So there was much more acceptance of 

 3          that cost because we weren't going to be able 

 4          to keep these nuclear assets in place 

 5          otherwise.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 8                 Anyone?  

 9                 Okay, well, thank you so much.

10                 MR. SUAREZ:  Thank you.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Great to see you.

13                 The next speaker is David Haight, 

14          New York State director of the American 

15          Farmland Trust.  

16                 Welcome, Director.

17                 MR. HAIGHT:  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You've been here a 

19          while.

20                 MR. HAIGHT:  Good evening, Chairman 

21          Farrell, Chairman Young.  I appreciate this 

22          opportunity to speak with you.  I commend 

23          your endurance.  

24                 I have four points that I want to make 


                                                                  461

 1          about the Governor's Executive Budget 

 2          proposal.

 3                 First, thank you for the Senate and 

 4          the Assembly's leadership last year in 

 5          helping to establish the record funding for 

 6          the Environmental Protection Fund.  That 

 7          $300 million threshold was a really important 

 8          milestone, and we strongly encourage you to 

 9          sustain that level of commitment to the 

10          environment in this year's budget.

11                 Second, our state's Farmland 

12          Protection Program celebrated its 20th 

13          anniversary last year.  It has become very 

14          popular with farmers because it provides them 

15          with a financially competitive alternative to 

16          having to sell their farm for real estate 

17          development.  And last year there was nearly 

18          $50 million in applications submitted to the 

19          state for that funding.  

20                 The Governor has proposed that that 

21          funding be $20 million out of EPF this year.  

22          We believe that is a good start, but we would 

23          encourage the Senate and the Assembly to 

24          increase that to at least $22 million in this 


                                                                  462

 1          year's State Budget so that we can stay on 

 2          track to help protect another 100,000 acres 

 3          of farmland by 2026.

 4                 The other thing I want to mention 

 5          about the Farmland Protection Program is we 

 6          deeply appreciate the Legislature's attention 

 7          to making sure that dollars aren't just 

 8          appropriated but that they're spent.  And we 

 9          very much appreciate that the Legislature has 

10          been working with the Governor and with 

11          Commissioner Ball and the Department of 

12          Agriculture and Markets that farms that are 

13          awarded these funds actually get those 

14          dollars and their farms are permanently 

15          protected in less than two years.  And we're 

16          making a lot of progress, but we need to 

17          remain diligent in that.

18                 The third area I want to touch on is 

19          one that's already brought up in others' 

20          testimony, and that's the need to help bring 

21          a new generation into agriculture.  New York 

22          is a state with 10,000 farmers over the age 

23          of 65.  These senior farmers -- some might 

24          call them master farmers, or alpha farmers -- 


                                                                  463

 1          but these farmers that are over 65 manage 

 2          nearly 2 million acres of land, and 

 3          90 percent of them do not have a young farmer 

 4          working with them in the management or 

 5          ownership of their farm.  So we know that 

 6          these farms are going to change hands in the 

 7          coming years, and too often in the past these 

 8          farms have been purchased by real estate 

 9          developers.

10                 At the same time, we know one of the 

11          biggest barriers to new farmers, whether they 

12          grew up on a farm or didn't, is finding land 

13          at an affordable price and under conditions 

14          that enable you to succeed.  We greatly 

15          appreciate that Governor Cuomo and 

16          Commissioner Ball have proposed creation of a 

17          Beginning Farmer Program and suggested that 

18          there would be support for local efforts to 

19          connect farmers with landowners that have 

20          land.  But we did not see any new staff at 

21          the Department of Agriculture and Markets, 

22          and we do not see any new dollars to act on 

23          this important need.  And that is a big 

24          concern for us.  


                                                                  464

 1                 We have worked for the last three 

 2          years with 15 different organizations in the 

 3          Hudson Valley, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 

 4          local land trusts, GrowNYC, who runs the 

 5          green markets in New York City; through our 

 6          shared efforts, we've helped 105 farmers find 

 7          land.  But we recognize that helping to 

 8          connect farmers with land is not as simple as 

 9          creating like match.com for farmers.  It 

10          really takes people that can sit down with a 

11          farmer and work through the difficult issues 

12          that are in their personal situation.  

13                 And so that's why we have suggested 

14          one avenue to put the resources into next 

15          year's budget is to allocate $700,000 from 

16          the Farmland Protection Program for a 

17          Farmland for a New Generation Program, to 

18          foster a partnership between the Department 

19          of Agriculture and Markets, the American 

20          Farmland Trust, Cornell Cooperative 

21          Extension, land trusts, to really address 

22          this issue head-on.  And we look forward to 

23          working with the Legislature and with 

24          Commissioner Ball and Governor Cuomo to make 


                                                                  465

 1          sure there are real resources put forward in 

 2          next year's budget to address this critical 

 3          need.

 4                 The last area I want to touch on is 

 5          the opportunity to help bring more food 

 6          that's grown in New York into institutions 

 7          that use public dollars to feed New Yorkers.  

 8          Specifically, I want to touch on the 

 9          Farm-to-School.  Nearly 1.7 million children 

10          get a lunch in a cafeteria every school day 

11          in New York.  Nearly $370 million is spent 

12          annually by schools in buying food.  If we 

13          could help our institutions that get public 

14          dollars -- specifically, state dollars -- to 

15          buy food, if we could help them keep at least 

16          25 percent of those dollars here in New York, 

17          that's going to create more economic 

18          opportunities for our farmers and it's going 

19          to help improve the health of many of our 

20          most needy New Yorkers.

21                 So the Governor has proposed $750,000 

22          in funding for a Farm-to-School grants 

23          program.  We think that is a wise move, and 

24          we would encourage you to support that.  


                                                                  466

 1                 Additionally, last year the 

 2          Legislature added in funding for a 

 3          procurement incentive for schools in the 

 4          North Country to buy healthy, minimally 

 5          processed fresh fruits, vegetables, other 

 6          locally grown products.  We would encourage 

 7          you to look closely at that model in the 

 8          North Country and look for opportunities to 

 9          help to expand that pilot program in next 

10          year's budget.  

11                 So I thank you so much for your 

12          attention and look forward to any of your 

13          questions.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

15                 Senator Krueger.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.  Just one quick 

17          question on the new farmers proposal.

18                 MR. HAIGHT:  Sure.  Yes.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I remember 

20          probably a decade ago that Ag and Markets was 

21          working to support immigrants to New York 

22          State who came from countries where they were 

23          farmers to become farmers in New York State.  

24          And I'm wondering whether, one, that program 


                                                                  467

 1          ever continued or, two, that's a model you 

 2          would look into in moving forward.  Because 

 3          as I remember, it was small but very 

 4          successful.

 5                 MR. HAIGHT:  So I can't talk about the 

 6          department's program per se, because I'm not 

 7          familiar with the one you're referring to.  

 8                 But I can say the next generation of 

 9          New York's farmers are going to be very 

10          diverse.  Some of them grew up on a farm and 

11          are in FFA and 4-H and go to Cornell or 

12          another ag college, but others didn't grow up 

13          on a farm.  Some emigrated to this country, 

14          some have moved to New York from other 

15          states.  And so our proposal would be one 

16          that hopefully would be nimble enough to 

17          address those diverse needs.  

18                 So, for example, in our partnership in 

19          the Hudson Valley, GrowNYC, who runs the 

20          green markets in New York City, has a 

21          fantastic program for beginning farmers that 

22          are immigrants and offers training and 

23          support.  And with their help, we, for 

24          example, have hosted a number of workshops 


                                                                  468

 1          about finding land and farm leasing and have 

 2          offered them both in English and in Spanish.  

 3          And so we're trying to address the needs of 

 4          those diverse communities.

 5                 So our proposal would offer some 

 6          central resources with, then, potentially 

 7          grant funding to an organization, potentially  

 8          like GrowNYC, for their local efforts to work 

 9          with those diverse communities of the next 

10          generation of New York's farmers.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  And 

13          thank you for all the good work you do.

14                 MR. HAIGHT:  Thanks, Senator.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

17          Director of Policy Jessica Ottney Mahar, 

18          The Nature Conservancy.

19                 I feel like it's when we were in 

20          school and everybody sat in the back row.  

21          Maybe people want to come down a little bit 

22          closer.  We're not as mean as we look, okay?

23                 MS. OTTNEY MAHAR:  The on-deck circle.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.


                                                                  469

 1                 MS. OTTNEY MAHAR:  Thank you very much 

 2          for waiting this long.  Your endurance is 

 3          admirable.  I am Jessica Ottney Mahar, the 

 4          policy director for The Nature Conservancy in 

 5          New York.  And on behalf of our 85,000 

 6          supporters, we really appreciate the 

 7          opportunity to speak with you today.

 8                 I wanted to thank you for the work you 

 9          did in last year's budget.  As a few 

10          speakers have noted, we reached a historic 

11          funding level for the Environmental 

12          Protection Fund last year, $300 million.  And 

13          you also led the way in creating the Water 

14          Infrastructure Grant Program, which was 

15          doubled last year and really set us on the 

16          course to the proposal in the Executive 

17          Budget this year for $2 billion for water 

18          infrastructure funding.  

19                 I wanted to also, in addition, before 

20          I really get started, to take a moment and 

21          thank the staff behind you, who this is the 

22          beginning of some of their long days.  But 

23          they do a lot of work, and we really 

24          appreciate working with all of them, in 


                                                                  470

 1          addition to all of you.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 3                 MS. OTTNEY MAHAR:  Right now there's a 

 4          lot of change going on at the federal level, 

 5          and we think this is a really amazing 

 6          opportunity this year to continue New York's 

 7          national leadership in addressing a lot of 

 8          environmental issues.  And we're lucky here 

 9          in New York State that we have leaders like 

10          you.  These issues are truly nonpartisan, and 

11          they're important in every corner of our 

12          state.  And we think that this is a moment 

13          where we can continue to provide that 

14          national leadership.

15                 This year, once again, the Governor is 

16          continuing or proposing to continue the 

17          $300 million EPF, and I'm here to 

18          respectfully ask that you support that.  This 

19          is funding that touches down in every county 

20          of New York State.  He's also proposing some 

21          major capital investments for New York State 

22          Parks and DEC through the continuation of the 

23          Parks 2020 program, which is a 10-year 

24          billion dollar investment in our world-class 


                                                                  471

 1          state parks infrastructure and state parks 

 2          system, and the Adventure NY program, which 

 3          is aimed at upgrading DEC's outdoor 

 4          recreational facilities.  

 5                 He's also proposing funding for a new 

 6          multi-use trail that will connect Western 

 7          New York to the Adirondacks to New York City, 

 8          the Empire State Trail, and we support that.

 9                 And on the EPF, there are two areas 

10          that I did want to mention a bit of concern 

11          over.  One is the inclusion of a $2 million 

12          program under the Parks account called 

13          Navigation Law.  Our understanding of this 

14          proposal is to pay for reimbursement to 

15          localities for enforcement of different laws 

16          and standards.  And this is generally 

17          something that was paid for with General Fund 

18          revenue, and we consider this an offload into 

19          the EPF, which is a capital fund.  So we 

20          don't support that proposal.  

21                 In addition, the land conservation 

22          funding of the Environmental Protection Fund 

23          has been reduced by $7 million to 

24          $33 million.  This was once a program that 


                                                                  472

 1          had $60 million of funding annually.  And as 

 2          we're working to become a more resilient 

 3          state to deal with storm protection and flood 

 4          resilience, this is an important program for 

 5          New York State.  So we would urge you to find 

 6          ways to maintain funding for that program in 

 7          this year's budget.  

 8                 And on water quality, again, there's 

 9          been some amazing proposals in the Executive 

10          Budget, and then you all in the Legislature 

11          went even further.  So we have a $2 billion 

12          proposal in the Executive Budget for water 

13          quality infrastructure and source water 

14          protection.  And then the Legislature, there 

15          are a few proposals now, went ahead and 

16          proposed a $5 billion Water Quality Bond Act.  

17          So we now have a total of $7 billion of water 

18          quality funding on the table.  

19                 And if you could have told me a few 

20          years ago when we were struggling to avoid 

21          deep cuts and sweeps to the EPF that we would 

22          be sitting here talking about a year when we 

23          would have a $300 million EPF, huge capital 

24          investments in our agencies, and a potential 


                                                                  473

 1          multi-billion-dollar Water Quality Bond Act, 

 2          I wouldn't have believed you.  So this is 

 3          really exciting.  

 4                 The Nature Conservancy is particularly 

 5          enthusiastic about the inclusion of source 

 6          water protection in all of these water 

 7          infrastructure proposals.  Our green 

 8          infrastructure is one way that our 

 9          communities at a low cost can protect water 

10          quality.  And cited in my testimony is a 

11          report that The Nature Conservancy reported; 

12          It's a global study of 4,000 cities showing, 

13          quantifying how they've used source water 

14          protection to improve water quality and 

15          protect drinking water for the citizens in 

16          4,000 cities around the world.  

17                 Here in New York, we can continue to 

18          do that.  So investing a portion of this 

19          funding in source water protection is a great 

20          idea.

21                 On the infrastructure side, we're also 

22          very supportive of updating our wastewater 

23          and drinking water infrastructure, including 

24          septic systems.  Long Island and other areas 


                                                                  474

 1          are having severe problems because of 

 2          outdated septic systems and cesspools, and 

 3          it's creating significant water quality 

 4          concerns.  So we would urge you to make sure 

 5          that that's part of the mix as well.  

 6                 And, as you're thinking about how to 

 7          proceed with all of this in the budget, we 

 8          would urge you to think about how localities 

 9          are going to match this.  So to bring this 

10          funding and pull it down to the ground, 

11          they're going to need a local match.  And 

12          right now with the property tax cap, it's 

13          very difficult for localities to generate the 

14          revenue they need to match to bring that 

15          funding into their community.  

16                 One strategy could potentially be 

17          authorizing a statewide community 

18          preservation fund.  The East End of 

19          Long Island in Suffolk County, the five 

20          East End towns this election cycle just 

21          reauthorized their community preservation 

22          fund.  Those five towns decided to use 

23          20 percent of their funds for clean water, 

24          for the first time ever.  They reauthorized 


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 1          it for 20 years.  This will raise about a 

 2          billion dollars for conservation in those 

 3          five towns alone, and about $600 million of 

 4          that can go to water quality.  So they'll be 

 5          in a good position to leverage this funding 

 6          and any federal water infrastructure funding 

 7          that might be realized with a potential 

 8          infrastructure package in D.C. 

 9                 And then finally there's an Article 

10          VII bill that we support.  We supported a 

11          different version of this last year.  It's I 

12          think done better this year, and more simply, 

13          to amend the Local Waterfront Revitalization 

14          Program of EPF so that the cost share is 

15          75 percent state.  We support that program, 

16          or that proposal.  We think that that will 

17          allow the program to deploy the funds more 

18          efficiently in communities throughout the 

19          state, and we would urge you to support that 

20          as part of the budget.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

22                 Any questions?  

23                 Thank you very much for your 

24          testimony.


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 1                 MS. OTTNEY MAHAR:  Thanks.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Next is Executive 

 4          Director Erin Crotty, from Audubon New York.

 5                 Thank you for being here.

 6                 MS. EISENSTEIN:  I'm actually Sasha 

 7          Eisenstein, the government relations manager 

 8          for Audubon New York.  I'm Erin's fill-in, 

 9          snow day fill-in today.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

11                 MS. EISENSTEIN:  So first let me thank 

12          you for the opportunity to speak today.  

13          We've submitted detailed written testimony 

14          from our executive director, Erin Crotty, for 

15          your consideration, and I'll just provide a 

16          brief overview.

17                 Audubon New York is a state program of 

18          the National Audubon Society, and our mission 

19          is to protect birds and the places they need 

20          to survive and thrive.  We achieve our 

21          mission by connecting our vast and powerful 

22          network of members and advocates along the 

23          migratory flyways of the Americas through 

24          science, advocacy, education, and 


                                                                  477

 1          on-the-ground conservation programming.  

 2                 Before I go into the budget proposal, 

 3          I would like to extend our thanks to you and 

 4          your colleagues for the significant 

 5          environmental achievements from last year. 

 6          Through your leadership and partnership with 

 7          the Governor, New York achieved unprecedented 

 8          levels of funding for our state's 

 9          environment, providing critical resources to 

10          protect our communities, people, and birds.  

11                 This year the Governor's Executive 

12          Budget proposal once again includes an 

13          historic investment that safeguards our 

14          environment.  Of particular importance to 

15          Audubon is the rededication of at least 

16          $300 million to the Environmental Protection 

17          Fund.  

18                 In addition, we encourage you to 

19          include in the enacted budget programs to 

20          further conservation on privately held lands.  

21          The majority of wildlife habitat in New York 

22          is privately owned.  

23                 A high priority of ours, which was 

24          included in the Governor's State of the 


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 1          State, is the Empire Forest for the Future 

 2          Initiative.  This is a program for private 

 3          forest landowners to reduce the conversion of 

 4          forests to non-forest uses and encourage 

 5          sustainable forest management practices on 

 6          privately held lands, which in fact account 

 7          for 75 percent of forested lands in New York.  

 8          This proposal includes modifications to 

 9          forest tax law, grants to help landowners 

10          implement best forest management practices, 

11          and grants to support local governments and 

12          nonprofits to acquire and manage community 

13          forests.  

14                 Audubon New York is part of a diverse 

15          coalition of 24 organizations representing 

16          environmental, conservation, business, and 

17          forestry interests that requested the 

18          Governor include funding for the Empire 

19          Forest for the Future Initiative in his 

20          upcoming amendments to the Executive Budget 

21          proposal.  Our organizations, which are 

22          national, regional, and statewide in breadth, 

23          believe that this a comprehensive and 

24          forward-thinking package which will serve as 


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 1          a national model for preserving privately 

 2          held forested lands while stimulating a 

 3          robust forest economy.  We are hopeful that 

 4          the Governor will include funding for this 

 5          package in his 30-day amendments due later 

 6          this week, and we encourage you guys to 

 7          support funding for this program as well.  

 8                 Audubon also supports the continued 

 9          capital investments in New York's historic 

10          places and outdoors, as well as the 

11          Governor's new proposal to create the Empire 

12          State Trail.

13                 Additionally, as many of you noted, 

14          few issues are as important to our health, 

15          economy, and environment as safe, reliable, 

16          clean water.  In recent years, with the 

17          Legislature's support and leadership, our 

18          state has provided additional resources for 

19          drinking water and wastewater infrastructure 

20          through the Water Infrastructure Improvement 

21          Act.  Despite these significant investments, 

22          additional funding is still needed.  

23                 Audubon commends the Governor and 

24          Legislature for their bold commitment to 


                                                                  480

 1          water infrastructure funding proposed in the 

 2          coming year.  We are encouraged to see the 

 3          prioritization of this issue by both branches 

 4          and are encouraged to see the Governor's 

 5          $2 billion, five-year Clean Water 

 6          Infrastructure Act proposal and the 

 7          Legislature's $5 billion Clean Water Bond Act 

 8          proposal.  

 9                 We look forward to working with our 

10          colleagues, the administration, and the 

11          Legislature to achieve record levels of 

12          funding for clean water.

13                 So thank you for your time today, and 

14          for your patience.  We appreciate it.

15                 Any questions?

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Any questions?  

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Any questions?  

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.

19                 MS. EISENSTEIN:  Thank you very much.  

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Next up is Adrienne 

21          Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the 

22          Environment.

23                 MS. ESPOSITO:  Good evening, members 

24          of the Senate and the Assembly.  Thank you 


                                                                  481

 1          very much for still being here, sticking it 

 2          out all day long.  We appreciate that.  I 

 3          know it's not easy, and your time and effort 

 4          is appreciated.  

 5                 My name is Adrienne Esposito.  I'm the 

 6          executive director of Citizens Campaign for 

 7          the Environment.  I will not be redundant.  

 8          You've heard a lot today.  So let me make 

 9          some points that you actually have not heard, 

10          if you can believe that, but there are 

11          several.  

12                 One is that, you know, we are one of 

13          the organizations that helped usher along the 

14          establishment of the Environmental Protection 

15          Fund over 20 years ago.  So we're thrilled 

16          that it's up to $300 million.  That's a win 

17          for all New Yorkers.  One small thing we're 

18          going to ask you to kindly consider 

19          delineating out in that $300 million, and 

20          that is that you may or may not know that all 

21          of the water suppliers throughout New York 

22          State are sending their water samples when 

23          they need to be tested for the PFCs or the 

24          PFOAs, all of those samples go to the 


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 1          Wadsworth Lab here in Albany.  Because of 

 2          that, there's a backlog.  And so it's taking 

 3          water suppliers or health departments longer 

 4          to get test results than they actually should 

 5          have to wait.  

 6                 In addition, you also may not know -- 

 7          but you may, Wadsworth is taking water 

 8          samples from outside of the state as well.

 9                 All of that means we need a second lab 

10          or a satellite lab.  The Suffolk County 

11          Department of Health has a state-of-the-art 

12          laboratory.  All they need is the ability to 

13          include testing for PFOAs and PFCs.  It makes 

14          perfect sense, since one of the first 

15          Superfund sites or the second Superfund site 

16          for that chemical is in the middle of Suffolk 

17          County.  

18                 We're asking you -- and I've produced 

19          a memo on this -- to, in the EPF, under the 

20          water quality line item of $20 million, to 

21          delineate out $500,000 to the Suffolk County 

22          Department of Health to be able to ascertain 

23          the technology and the ability to provide 

24          that testing.  That would allow for water 


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 1          samples to move quicker, for communities to 

 2          know quicker if they should not be drinking 

 3          their water, and we shouldn't have a backlog 

 4          of water samples to be tested for this known 

 5          chemical.

 6                 The next thing I just want to mention 

 7          also, switching from the EPF, is for the 

 8          Governor's $400 million for the WIIA.  We 

 9          agree with many of you who have said you 

10          would like to see more delineation.  We're 

11          asking for no less than 60 percent of those 

12          funds to be allocated for sewage treatment 

13          infrastructure and wastewater infrastructure 

14          upgrades.  

15                 We agree that source water protection 

16          and Superfund sites are extremely important.  

17          You'll know -- I mean today, again, as we've 

18          all been sitting here, the Comptroller 

19          released a report talking about our deficit 

20          in sewage treatment and wastewater 

21          infrastructure needs.  

22                 The next thing, the bond act.  I want 

23          to say this.  You know, we have two bond act 

24          proposals currently in the Senate, one by 


                                                                  484

 1          Senator Hannon and one by Senator LaValle.  

 2          We have a same-as bill by Senator Hannon 

 3          submitted by Assemblyman Englebright.  We 

 4          would ask you -- we would almost beg you -- 

 5          to include in any bond act a portion of funds 

 6          to be used for septic and cesspool 

 7          changeouts.  This is desperate.  

 8                 Now, some have said to me, We can't do 

 9          that.  We can't use bonded money to help 

10          homeowners.  I would say to you that if 

11          New York State is clever enough to figure out 

12          a way to use taxpayer dollars to help 

13          corporations keep nuclear plants open, then 

14          we should be clever enough to use taxpayer 

15          dollars to help taxpayers protect drinking 

16          water and surface waters.  We have a nuclear 

17          bailout because it's for the greater good; I 

18          heard the testimony here today.  Well, 

19          there's a greater good in keeping our 

20          drinking water and our surface waters and our 

21          bays and estuaries and our lakes and our 

22          tributaries clean as well, from blue-green 

23          algae to brown algae to red tide, which is 

24          lethal.  


                                                                  485

 1                 So we're asking that any bond act 

 2          contain such a mechanism, which is exactly 

 3          what we need to address water quality in so 

 4          many areas throughout New York State, but 

 5          particularly Long Island.  

 6                 The next thing is the Sewage Pollution 

 7          Right to Know Bill.  It was a bill that was 

 8          only passed a few years ago, but it is a good 

 9          one, if I do say so myself.  With that bill, 

10          now municipalities have to report within four 

11          hours for a sewage spill in a water body.  So 

12          the public knows if they're swimming or 

13          fishing or recreating in the middle of 

14          untreated or partially treated sewage.  

15                 One thing that was very good last year 

16          is that the DEC issued about 10 

17          municipalities grants for upgraded technology 

18          so they can comply with that law.  That's 

19          great.  But we need to do more of that.  

20          There was a half a million dollars that was 

21          allocated a couple of years ago, finally 

22          spent.  We need another half a million 

23          dollars to continue to do that.  

24          Municipalities unfortunately have old 


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 1          technology and they're just not able to keep 

 2          up with today's needs, and that's a problem 

 3          for us and for public health.  

 4                 The next thing I wanted to just 

 5          mention also is something that is missing 

 6          from the budget.  Two years ago in the 

 7          Department of Health there was $350,000 for 

 8          the safe disposal of pharmaceutical drugs.  

 9          Last year it was $300,000.  This years it's 

10          zero.  Did we solve the problem?  Is it all 

11          done?  Because if we did, we're not aware of 

12          that.  

13                 In that Department of Health line 

14          item, it is almost unbelievable the amount of 

15          work that got done on safe disposal of 

16          pharmaceuticals.  And I'm not able to say 

17          this enough to government, but it was a great 

18          job.  King Kullen grocery stores on 

19          Long Island, for instance, which received a 

20          state grant, in the last two and a half years 

21          in their 11 stores that have pharmacies -- I 

22          just got a report this morning -- 

23          5,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals were dropped 

24          off at the grocery stores.  That's two and a 


                                                                  487

 1          half tons that are not being flushed.  

 2                 Erie County, 4,000 pounds of 

 3          pharmaceuticals.  A countywide program was 

 4          done.  Onondaga County, for the first time in 

 5          the history of New York State, put in drop 

 6          boxes.  

 7                 And yet it was left out of the budget.  

 8          So I'm not sure if we don't like progress or 

 9          it was just an oversight or what happened.  

10          But drug disposal options, the need for them 

11          is increasing, it's not decreasing.  

12                 The last thing I want to just mention 

13          to you which hasn't been spoken about yet is 

14          New York State's pesticide reporting law.  

15          This law needs to be modernized and updated 

16          in the budget process.  Why do I say that?  

17          Right now it is required that pesticide 

18          applicators report once a year how much 

19          they've used and where they've applied it.  

20          Only they have to respond to the law either 

21          in paper or diskette.  Now, most of the 

22          people behind me who are under 35 don't even 

23          know what a diskette is.  

24                 So we think that the law needs to be 


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 1          modernized and people can -- I know hold on 

 2          to your seats -- actually report 

 3          electronically to the pesticide reporting 

 4          law.  

 5                 It seems crazy that we should have to 

 6          ask for this in the year 2017, but some have 

 7          suggested getting rid of the law because it's 

 8          not working.  It's not working because we're 

 9          using reporting forms from the 1990s.  We 

10          need to update it, use the computer, use 

11          electronic technology, so we can ascertain 

12          where stuff is being applied, in what 

13          quantities, and go back to the original 

14          reason the law was created in the first 

15          place, which was to create scientific data so 

16          we can ascertain information and make 

17          scientific assessments based on real data.  

18                 So I just wanted to raise those as 

19          things that have not been raised, you know, 

20          to date.  And we do appreciate your time, and 

21          we look forward to working with you during 

22          this very important budget process.  

23                 Thank you very much.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  


                                                                  489

 1                 Any questions?

 2                 Senator Savino.

 3                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  I just 

 4          have one question.  

 5                 Back on the issue of the water testing 

 6          and the laboratory, you said Wadsworth is the 

 7          only lab because they're the only ones that 

 8          have the equipment?

 9                 MS. ESPOSITO:  Yes, because it's a new 

10          emerging chemical, it's -- Wadsworth has 

11          state-of-the-art technology where it can test 

12          for this chemical, but the other 

13          laboratories, that -- water suppliers or the 

14          municipal governments that are sent to do not 

15          have it.

16                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Interestingly, 

17          Wadsworth is also the only laboratory in the 

18          state that is testing medical marijuana 

19          products, and they're also backed up there 

20          too.  So I was just curious as to why.  

21                 So perhaps, since they're handling 

22          both, they're backed up on both issues.  

23                 MS. ESPOSITO:  Well, that very well 

24          could be.  I mean, we have these new emerging 


                                                                  490

 1          needs, and we need to keep up with that.

 2                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

 3                 MS. ESPOSITO:  Thank you.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  No, we have 

 7          Mr. Englebright.

 8                 MS. ESPOSITO:  Oh, I'm sorry.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 

10          Mr. Farrell.  

11                 First I just want to say thank you for 

12          cutting to the heart of the matter, because 

13          that actually sharpens your message.  And 

14          your message is important to all of us -- 

15          especially to myself, though, because you're 

16          so very active in the bi-county region of 

17          Long Island.

18                 So thank you for your suggestion for 

19          the Suffolk County Health Department testing.  

20          We ought to look into that.  I think that's a 

21          terrific idea.

22                 MS. ESPOSITO:  Thank you.  I 

23          appreciate that.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  And in terms 


                                                                  491

 1          of the cesspool and septic changeout, I agree 

 2          with you, we have to find a way to fund that.  

 3          I also agree with you that water source 

 4          protection is important.  And that symmetry 

 5          is vital going forward.

 6                 I did have a meeting about a week ago 

 7          with the folks from Stony Brook who are doing 

 8          work on this, and they shared some very 

 9          optimistic thoughts in terms of some of the 

10          progress they're making.  One of the things I 

11          learned -- I almost had to pull it out of 

12          them -- is that they're being held up in some 

13          of their research by the bureaucracy of the 

14          Health Department.  So there's a couple of 

15          reasons that, perhaps following your 

16          testimony here, we can -- I'm certainly going 

17          to be interested in having a meeting with the 

18          county officials.  Treating the researchers 

19          at Stony Brook, who we fund, along with the 

20          Health Department in a joint program -- 

21          having that Health Department require the 

22          researchers to go through the same hoops that 

23          for-profit companies have to go through is 

24          wasteful.


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 1                 Anyhow, thank you for your testimony.

 2                 MS. ESPOSITO:  I think a meeting of 

 3          the minds is -- when you get people around 

 4          the same table, it's always productive.  I 

 5          believe that.  Levels of government, 

 6          researchers, when we're all at the same 

 7          table, then we get change.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Sometimes 

 9          change is a forest fire; sometimes change is 

10          the dawn of a new day.  I hope for the 

11          latter.

12                 MS. ESPOSITO:  I'm hoping for a dawn.  

13          I see a lot of progress.  We're making a lot 

14          of progress, and I have great hope.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

16          for your testimony.

17                 MS. ESPOSITO:  Thank you.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

19                 Our next speaker is New York State 

20          Policy Director Patrick McClellan, New York 

21          League of Conservation Voters.

22                 If you know you're next, by the way, 

23          maybe it would speed things up if you came a 

24          little bit closer so you're in the queue.


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 1                 Thank you for being here.

 2                 MR. McCLELLAN:  Thank you.

 3                 I'm sorry, I was sitting at the top.

 4                 I want to start by thanking you for 

 5          your endurance and patience today.  So out of 

 6          respect for that, I'll try and just hit the 

 7          highlights of my testimony.

 8                 And before I continue, I want to thank 

 9          you for your support and leadership on the 

10          environment over the last several years.  To 

11          have $300 million for the Environmental 

12          Protection Fund for two years in a row is 

13          really remarkable.

14                 So we strongly support the Governor's 

15          proposed $2 billion Clean Water 

16          Infrastructure Act.  We're particularly 

17          pleased that it authorizes funding for a wide 

18          variety of initiatives, including 

19          infrastructure projects as well as source 

20          protection projects.  

21                 We're also pleased by the $300 million 

22          for the Environmental Protection Fund, as I 

23          said, particularly funding for environmental 

24          justice initiatives, including $1 million to 


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 1          connect children with the outdoors, 

 2          $2 million in community impact grants, and 

 3          funds to monitor air quality at hotspots to 

 4          be identified.  

 5                 We also support the EPF's funding for 

 6          parks, particularly $20 million for municipal 

 7          parks, $30 million for state land 

 8          stewardship, and $16 million for waterfront 

 9          revitalization.  We're also supportive of the 

10          Governor's proposed legislation to increase 

11          the state match for the Waterfront 

12          Revitalization Program from 50 percent to 

13          75 percent of a project's cost.  

14                 And finally, as always, we support the 

15          EPF's funding for climate change mitigation 

16          and adaptation, and we thank both the 

17          Governor and leaders in both houses of the 

18          Legislature for your leadership on the EPF 

19          over the years.  

20                 The Executive Budget's proposal to 

21          require large generators of food waste to 

22          donate excess edible food and recycle food 

23          scraps is a thoughtful, well-crafted policy 

24          that will benefit emergency food providers, 


                                                                  495

 1          reduce the amount of compostable waste going 

 2          to landfills, and create a statewide organics 

 3          recycling infrastructure that will make it 

 4          easier for municipalities to adopt their own 

 5          organics recycling programs should they 

 6          choose to do so.  By delaying implementation 

 7          of the mandate until 2021, the state ensures 

 8          that organics recycling facilities will have 

 9          time to establish themselves and undergo a 

10          careful siting process.  

11                 NYLCV also supports the Governor's 

12          proposal to reform the 480-a forest 

13          management tax credit and add a new 480-b tax 

14          credit.  Taken together, these reforms would 

15          lower the threshold for participation from 

16          50 acres to 25 and allow up to 50 percent of 

17          the credit to be applied to open space.  

18                 Current beneficiaries of the 480-a 

19          program would be grandfathered in.  And the 

20          Governor also proposes to provide grants for 

21          best forest management techniques and 

22          acquisition of community forests, and to 

23          provide financial relief to local governments 

24          most impacted by 480-a.  


                                                                  496

 1                 And in keeping with the league's 

 2          commitment to open space and the benefits of 

 3          spending time in nature, we also support the 

 4          Empire State Trail and Adventure NY 

 5          proposals, and we continue to support 

 6          investments in the Parks 2020 initiative.  

 7                 We firmly believe in the importance of 

 8          protecting New York's farms and farmland and 

 9          connecting residents across the state with 

10          healthy, locally grown food.  So we're 

11          pleased by the proposed $500,000 expansion of 

12          the Farm-to-School grant program, which 

13          connects farms with school districts, as well 

14          as funding for Agriculture in the Classroom 

15          to teach students about where their food 

16          comes from and the importance of healthy 

17          eating, and more money for the New York State 

18          Grown & Certified program as well as, of 

19          course, the EPF-funded programs to preserve 

20          and provide technical assistance to farms.  

21                 We also support electrification of the 

22          transportation sector as an important 

23          component of reducing our greenhouse gas 

24          emissions, so we're supportive of anything to 


                                                                  497

 1          reduce barriers to electric vehicle ownership 

 2          and operation.  We're supportive of the 

 3          proposal to extend the Alternative Fuels 

 4          Property and Electric Vehicle Recharging 

 5          Property Credit for five years, to add 500 

 6          new workplace charging stations, and to add 

 7          69 electric vehicle charging stations along 

 8          the Thruway.  And we continue to support the 

 9          electric vehicle consumer rebate that was 

10          authorized last year; we eagerly await its 

11          implementation.  

12                 And finally, we support the Governor's 

13          proposal -- although this is not budgetary, 

14          of course, to further reduce the Regional 

15          Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap by 30 percent 

16          between 2020 and 2031.  We do note, however, 

17          that $23 million in RGGI funds were 

18          transferred to the General Fund last year, 

19          and we believe that RGGI is stronger when its 

20          funds are dedicated to clean energy programs.

21                 Thank you very much.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

23                 MR. McCLELLAN:  Thank you very much.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 


                                                                  498

 1          much.  

 2                 Our next speaker is Executive Director 

 3          Robin Dropkin, Parks & Trails New York.

 4                 Thank you for being here also.

 5                 MR. MEERDINK:  Hi.  I'm actually James 

 6          Meerdink.  I'm a project director with Parks 

 7          & Trails New York.

 8                 Chairpersons Young and Farrell and 

 9          members of the committee, thank you for the 

10          opportunity to speak to the impact of the 

11          budget on New York's outdoor recreational 

12          resources, especially its magnificent state 

13          park system and its thousands of miles of 

14          biking and walking trails.  

15                 Since 1985, Parks & Trails New York 

16          has been the state's leading advocate for the 

17          expansion, protection, and promotion of our 

18          park and trail network.  Our mission and our 

19          vision is to ensure that all New Yorkers, 

20          regardless of where they live, socioeconomic 

21          status, or physical or mental disabilities, 

22          should have close access to outdoor 

23          recreation.  

24                 Through our work -- including 


                                                                  499

 1          promotion of our outdoor resources, our 

 2          popular bike tours, and our cycling 

 3          guidebooks -- we also promote sustainable 

 4          tourism in all regions of the state.  

 5                 So I'll start with the budget proposal 

 6          that has captured the imagination of trail 

 7          users and outdoor enthusiasts from across the 

 8          state and beyond:  The Empire State Trail. 

 9          The Governor has proposed funding for a 

10          statewide, multi-use trail called the Empire 

11          State Trail, and it would connect New York 

12          City to the Canadian border, and Buffalo to 

13          Albany.  

14                 This bold plan responds to more than a 

15          decade of advocacy by Parks & Trails New York 

16          and other partners to close the gaps in the 

17          Erie and Champlain Canalway Trails, and to 

18          build a connected trail in the Hudson Valley. 

19          The Governor's budget will do that, with a 

20          proposed $53 million to be split between the 

21          Erie Canalway Trail and the Hudson River 

22          Greenway.  To say that we're supportive is an 

23          understatement, and I'll give you a little 

24          bit more about why we think this is a great 


                                                                  500

 1          idea before moving on.  

 2                 Upon completion, the 750-mile Empire 

 3          State Trail will be the nation's longest 

 4          multi-use trail, securing New York's place as 

 5          a national and international destination for 

 6          outdoor recreation and heritage tourism.  

 7          Building the trail will also add a unique 

 8          asset to the state's tourism portfolio, one 

 9          that caters to modern tourists who seek 

10          adventure, outdoor recreation, and authentic 

11          cultural experiences.  

12                 Visitors to the trail create positive 

13          economic impacts for local communities.  And 

14          we've seen this on the Erie Canalway Trail, 

15          where the trail currently is estimated to 

16          generate $253 million in annual economic 

17          benefit and to support over 3,000 jobs.  

18          That's just the Erie Canalway Trail, Buffalo 

19          to Albany. We believe the impact of the full 

20          Empire State Trail will dwarf this figure.  

21                 It's not just tourism, either.  The 

22          Empire State Trail will create a community 

23          recreation space in 26 counties and hundreds 

24          of communities across the state, providing a 


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 1          safe and accessible place to walk, ride, jog, 

 2          push a stroller, rollerblade -- pretty much 

 3          you name it in terms of outdoor activities. 

 4          The trail will also serve as the spine for 

 5          other hiking and biking trails.  This network 

 6          really will touch all parts of the state, and 

 7          we think that the Empire State Trail will 

 8          serve as a catalyst for trail development 

 9          throughout the network.  

10                 Another point, the trail supports 

11          public health efforts to increase physical 

12          activity and screen-free time that we all 

13          need more and more these days.  

14                 The Empire State Trail will also 

15          create a new way to experience New York's 

16          rich history and unique heritage, providing a 

17          seamless off-road connection to many of the 

18          state's important historic and cultural 

19          assets, truly a Path Through History.  

20                 I'll tell you one more trail-related 

21          stat, and then I'll move on to a couple of 

22          other parts of the budget.  Homebuyers rank 

23          off-road trails as one of the most important 

24          community assets when purchasing a home, so 


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 1          the Empire State Trail supports the state's 

 2          goal of attracting and keeping residents, 

 3          especially millennials and young families.  

 4                 So I'll move on the state parks 

 5          briefly.  Through the leadership of the 

 6          Governor and Legislature, since 2011 state 

 7          parks have received $470 million in capital 

 8          funding through the New York Parks 2020 

 9          initiative.  They've used this to restore and 

10          rebuild aging infrastructure.  Three hundred 

11          eighty-three park improvement and enhancement 

12          projects have been completed or are underway 

13          at more than 130 parks and historic sites in 

14          every region of the state.  The Governor and 

15          members of the Senate and Assembly deserve a 

16          lot of credit for this.  

17                 So we're happy to report that this 

18          year's Executive Budget expands on this 

19          theme, with a proposed allocation of 

20          $120 million to OPRHP for capital.  This 

21          includes the scheduled $90 million 

22          installment of Parks 2020 funding, as well as 

23          an additional $30 million for capital 

24          projects that are meant to spur private 


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 1          investment in some of the state's 

 2          high-profile parks.  We fully support these 

 3          investments.  

 4                 While great progress is being made, 

 5          challenges do remain.  State parks, despite 

 6          experiencing rising attendance, operate with 

 7          the same staffing levels as they did in 

 8          previous decades, when visitation was 

 9          significantly lower.  We think we shouldn't 

10          waste the momentum we've created with capital 

11          funding since 2011.  Instead, we should seize 

12          the opportunity for State Parks to engage 

13          increased numbers by increasing the agency's 

14          operations budget.  

15                 We don't believe that the $1 million 

16          increase in operations funding for OPRHP 

17          proposed in the Executive Budget meets the 

18          needs that exist throughout the system.  

19                 Taken together, the renaissance in the 

20          state parks system and the opportunities for 

21          growth in our multi-use trail network are 

22          moving us closer to Parks & Trails New York's 

23          vision for close access to outdoor recreation 

24          for all New Yorkers.  There's a couple of 


                                                                  504

 1          other funding sources I want to mention that 

 2          are also moving us along in this regard.  

 3                 Adventure NY has been mentioned 

 4          previously.  Parks & Trails New York fully 

 5          supports DEC's goal of improving access to 

 6          recreation, and the funding allocated for 

 7          this program.  

 8                 Finally, the Environmental Protection 

 9          Fund is a critical source of funding for a 

10          variety of programs, including capital 

11          improvements at parks and campgrounds, 

12          restoration of historic sites, and management 

13          of trails and public lands.  The EPF supports 

14          more than 350,000 jobs across a spectrum of 

15          industries, including outdoor tourism.  We 

16          are very pleased that the Executive Budget 

17          proposes full funding for the Environmental 

18          Protection Fund at $300 million in this 

19          budget.

20                 And then, finally, just one point 

21          about a line item within the EPF.  For the 

22          third year, included in the EPF budget 

23          proposal is a $500,000 capacity-building 

24          grants program.  This is targeted to 


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 1          organizations that promote and support the 

 2          state's parks, trails and historic sites. 

 3          These nonprofit "friends groups" -- 

 4          oftentimes made up entirely of volunteers -- 

 5          already contribute significantly to the 

 6          promotion of these venues, in addition to 

 7          doing things like building kiosks, clearing 

 8          trails, leading programs, and raising 

 9          significant money for capital projects.  The 

10          capacity-building grants program, 

11          administered by Parks & Trails New York, 

12          unlocks the potential of these organizations 

13          by increasing their effectiveness, 

14          productivity, and volunteer and fundraising 

15          capabilities.  

16                 In March 2016, the first round of Park 

17          and Trail Partnership funds was awarded to 

18          20 friends groups at parks and historic sites 

19          across the state.  These friends groups in 

20          turn pledged nearly $242,000 in matching 

21          funds.  The demand for the program in the 

22          first year was significantly high, with 

23          36 percent of all eligible organizations 

24          submitting applications, and these 


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 1          applications totaled $966,000. 

 2                 The second round of grant awardees 

 3          will be announced in March of 2017.  

 4                 Parks & Trails New York looks forward 

 5          to working with the Governor and Legislature 

 6          on this transformative program.  

 7                 Thank you for the opportunity to speak 

 8          today.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

10          much.  

11                 Any questions?

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

13                 MR. MEERDINK:  Thank you.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, I'm sorry, we 

15          have a question.

16                 MR. MEERDINK:  Sure.

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mr. Englebright.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

19          for your testimony.

20                 I agree with the priorities that 

21          you've laid out and congratulate you -- I'm a 

22          former board member of your organization some 

23          years ago, when I still had bell-bottoms and 

24          brown hair.  We were working on this trail 


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 1          vision then, and your organization has paved 

 2          the way, really, for this Empire State Trail.

 3                 I would just ask that you use your 

 4          good office to advocate for the inclusion of 

 5          Nassau and Suffolk counties as part of the 

 6          Empire State.  You mentioned Jones Beach 

 7          State Park.  It's not part of the reach of 

 8          this at least initial proposal.  Neither is 

 9          Montauk nor Orient nor Brookhaven or any of 

10          the other great state parks -- Hither Hills, 

11          and I could go on.  We have the greatest 

12          concentration of state parks for a given 

13          square mile of territory than any other part 

14          of the state.  It should be a part of the 

15          initial planning.

16                 Other than that, though, I just want 

17          to again say thank you for the work you do 

18          and for the pioneering effort for trails 

19          throughout the state that Parks & Trails has 

20          initiated.

21                 MR. MEERDINK:  Thank you.  We 

22          definitely work with lots of groups on 

23          Long Island, so we'll take it under 

24          advisement.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 2          much.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

 5          Washington County Sewer District Executive 

 6          Director Joseph Brilling, from the New York 

 7          Water Environment Association.  

 8                 And I would ask that Kevin Chlad, 

 9          director of government relations from the 

10          Adirondack Council, come forward so that he's 

11          ready.  Are you ready?

12                 MR. CHLAD:  I'm ready.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You're ready, 

14          great.  So, Mr. Brilling, welcome.

15                 MR. BRILLING:  Thank you.

16                 As noted, my name is Joseph Brilling.  

17          I'm a wastewater professional with over 

18          27 years of experience protecting public 

19          health and the water environment.  I also 

20          have the privilege of serving as the 

21          executive director of the Washington County 

22          Sewer District, that is responsible for the 

23          operation, maintenance and administration of 

24          a treatment plant with a permitted flow of 


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 1          2.5 million gallons per day and a collection 

 2          system of approximately 80 miles of pipe, 

 3          with a large percentage of combined sewer 

 4          area.

 5                 I am involved in NYWEA as a utility 

 6          member of the New York Water Environment 

 7          Association.  NYWEA is a member association 

 8          of the Water Environment Federation, which is 

 9          the leading international organization 

10          dedicated to the wastewater industry.  NYWEA 

11          is a nonprofit professional organization that 

12          serves the best interest of the public by 

13          promoting sustainable clean water quality 

14          management through science, education, and 

15          training.  It is made up of over 2,500 

16          members across the state with great 

17          diversity, ranging from treatment plant 

18          operators from small villages, top-level 

19          officials in New York City government, 

20          academics and students, regulators, engineers 

21          of all types, environmental scientists, and 

22          other interested professionals.  

23                 NYWEA also has a robust Utility 

24          Executives Committee with broad statewide 


                                                                  510

 1          representation that provides unity and 

 2          strength to address the growing regulatory 

 3          and financial challenges facing wastewater 

 4          utilities.  

 5                 NYWEA members are seeing a shift in 

 6          terminology to better reflect what physical, 

 7          chemical and biological processes take place 

 8          at wastewater treatment plants, now also 

 9          referred to as water resource recovery 

10          facilities.  The important work these 

11          utilities carry out 24 hours a day, seven 

12          days a week, saves lives.  Water resource 

13          recovery facilities receive the sewage we all 

14          produce and recover valuable resources from 

15          it, principally water.  

16                 In addition to protecting public 

17          health and the environment, many water 

18          resource recovery facilities generate energy, 

19          extract and find uses for nutrients, use the 

20          treated effluent in beneficial ways, and 

21          innovate with technological and financial 

22          partners.  

23                 Organizations like NYWEA, Washington 

24          County, and all wastewater utilities in the 


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 1          state recognize the critical role that proper 

 2          sanitation plays in protecting public health 

 3          and improving the water environment while 

 4          promoting economic development and 

 5          recreational opportunities.  We are also 

 6          keenly aware of the fiscal challenges faced 

 7          by local governments when attempting to 

 8          budget or finance clean water infrastructure 

 9          projects.  Local governments understand their 

10          fiscal responsibilities, but we cannot fund 

11          these needs without financial assistance.  

12                 Washington County Sewer District was 

13          formed in 1984 to maintain improvements to 

14          water quality and to meet new regulatory 

15          requirements.  Our district has tremendous 

16          clean water infrastructure needs, including 

17          approximately $26 million for our combined 

18          sewer overflow long-term control plan 

19          implementation alone. That $26 million cost 

20          is for a district that provides wastewater 

21          treatment and collection to a population of 

22          approximately 15,000 users.  

23                 Washington County Sewer District is 

24          one of over 600 wastewater treatment 


                                                                  512

 1          facilities in New York State that serve 1,610 

 2          municipalities, providing wastewater 

 3          treatment for more than 15 million people 

 4          across the state.  Functioning clean water 

 5          infrastructure is vital to a community's 

 6          viability, future economic prospects, and 

 7          competitiveness.  Deferring maintenance of 

 8          sewer and water assets leads to rapid 

 9          deterioration, reducing service life and 

10          greatly increasing the cost of repairs.  

11                 According to the NYSDEC 2008 report 

12          "Wastewater Infrastructure Needs of New York 

13          State," the conservative costs of repairing, 

14          replacing and updating New York's aging and 

15          deteriorating wastewater and water 

16          infrastructure over the next 20 years are 

17          $36.2 billion and $38.7 billion,  

18          respectively.  It should be pointed out that 

19          this report is now nine years old, so it is 

20          expected that current costs are likely higher 

21          than the 2008 report stated.  This report 

22          also indicated that 30 percent of the state's 

23          sewage collection systems are beyond their 

24          expected useful life.  


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 1                 In the face of this tremendous need, 

 2          New York has stepped up as a national leader 

 3          with the creation of the Water Infrastructure 

 4          Improvement Act of 2015, a $400 million, 

 5          three-year grant program in the New York 

 6          State budget.  The Governorís budget proposes 

 7          an additional $20 billion investment in the 

 8          WIIA through the year 2022, with potential 

 9          uses proposed beyond infrastructure 

10          investment.  NYWEA is appreciative of the 

11          proposed extension and increase in funding 

12          for this program, but we also realize the 

13          needs are much greater. 

14                 NYWEA also supports the proposed 

15          $5 billion Clean Water Bond Act.  

16                 Some statistics that highlight the 

17          fiscal needs and constraints faced by local 

18          water resource recovery facilities:  

19                 Under 10 percent of total local 

20          government expenditures have been directed 

21          toward infrastructure for the past 10 years.  

22          It has not kept up with the rate of inflation 

23          for construction costs and materials.  In 

24          addition, municipalities are subject to the 


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 1          tax cap constraints, further reducing 

 2          infrastructure reinvestment, which results in 

 3          deferred maintenance of sewer and water 

 4          assets, leading to rapid deterioration, 

 5          reducing service life, and greatly increasing 

 6          the cost of repairs.  It would be desirable 

 7          to have clean water capital projects exempted 

 8          from the tax cap.  

 9                 A disproportionate share of the 

10          wastewater financial burden is borne by 

11          metropolitan areas which are financially 

12          distressed with low household median incomes 

13          and mandated implementation of combined sewer 

14          overflow long-term control plans.  

15                 Municipalities from across the state 

16          rely on the New York State Environmental 

17          Facilities Corporation for low-cost loans. 

18          The New York State EFC develops a list of 

19          annual and multiyear projects that 

20          municipalities and other entities have deemed 

21          necessary to meet continued environmental 

22          protection, compliance, and efficient 

23          operation and maintenance of water 

24          infrastructure.  While the lists are a 


                                                                  515

 1          representative compilation of pertinent 

 2          projects, they are not a compilation of the 

 3          entire universe of projects within New York 

 4          State, since there are additional projects 

 5          that the municipalities have not submitted to 

 6          EFC.  

 7                 Municipalities are frequently 

 8          reluctant to take advantage of loan 

 9          obligations, as they are subject to the 

10          property tax cap fiscal constraints that 

11          limit their ability to borrow funds for 

12          critical water and wastewater infrastructure 

13          projects.  

14                 Over 20 years, each $1 invested in 

15          sewer and water infrastructure returns $2.03 

16          of local, state and federal tax revenue.  

17          Over time, clean water investments pay for 

18          themselves and produce tax revenue for future 

19          spending.  

20                 Besides the normal operation and 

21          maintenance of these utilities, natural 

22          disasters or other emergency situations -- 

23          such as toxic spills, discovery of harmful 

24          contaminants in water supplies -- have 


                                                                  516

 1          adversely impacted New York's infrastructure. 

 2          These costs are in addition to already 

 3          strained finances hindering municipalities 

 4          from investing in necessary water and sewer 

 5          infrastructure needs.  

 6                 Investment in water infrastructure not 

 7          only protects public health and the quality 

 8          of our lakes, rivers, streams and open water 

 9          bodies, it is a significant driver of 

10          economic development and job creation.  

11                 Nationwide, local governments are the 

12          main investors in water and sewer systems. 

13          For all public spending on water and 

14          wastewater facilities, state and local 

15          governments account for 96 percent.  The 

16          federal share is 4 percent.  In the future, 

17          it will take funding coming from federal, 

18          state, and local governments together to 

19          improve water quality and sustain our 

20          utilities.  

21                 Investment in clean water 

22          infrastructure shouldn't just be local 

23          government's responsibility, as it is 

24          appropriate to represent that cleaner water 


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 1          doesn't just benefit the adjacent locality, 

 2          but the entire State of New York.  It is time 

 3          to reinvigorate the past practices, 

 4          partnerships and investments between state 

 5          and local government that enhance the quality 

 6          of life of all New Yorkers.  

 7                 In 1966, the Rockefeller Pure Waters 

 8          Program led the nation with an investment of 

 9          $1 billion, of 1966 dollars, towards 

10          wastewater infrastructure that provided an 

11          unquestioned partnership between state and 

12          local government.  New York State once again 

13          has an opportunity to set an example for the 

14          entire nation with the creation of a 

15          dedicated fund.  Investment in water is the 

16          right thing for local government, public 

17          health, the environment, the economy, job 

18          creation, and recreational opportunities. 

19                 I thank you for listening to me and 

20          the opportunity to be here today.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

22          much.  

23                 Any questions?

24                 Mr. Englebright.


                                                                  518

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

 2          very much.  Very powerful testimony.  

 3                 I had the privilege of being with your 

 4          organization on Wednesday at your annual 

 5          meeting, and I just want to congratulate you 

 6          and the entire organization of professional 

 7          water managers.  You keep our communities 

 8          healthy, and you keep our waters pure.

 9                 MR. BRILLING:  Thank you.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  And so I 

11          just want to underscore how important your 

12          testimony is.  

13                 I know that the people here at this 

14          moment have heard this, but I'm going to 

15          share your testimony with my colleagues, all 

16          of the members of the Environmental 

17          Committee.  I think it's that important.

18                 MR. BRILLING:  Thank you.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

20          very much.

21                 MR. BRILLING:  Please take note of 

22          this too, if you'd look at that.  Basically, 

23          the testimony is that (indicating brochure).

24                 Thank you.  


                                                                  519

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 4                 Next, Kevin Chlad from Adirondack 

 5          Council.  

 6                 And then prepare yourself.  Adirondack 

 7          Mountain Club afterwards, and Protect the 

 8          Adirondacks after that.  And we will know 

 9          everything we need to know about the 

10          Adirondacks.

11                 MR. CHLAD:  Yes, you will.  

12                 All right.  Well, good evening, 

13          everybody, honored legislators.  My name is 

14          Kevin Chlad.  I'm the director of government 

15          relations for the Adirondack Council.  The 

16          Adirondack Council is a nonprofit dedicated 

17          to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild 

18          character of our Adirondack Park.  We 

19          envision a park with large core wilderness 

20          areas, clean air, water, working farms and 

21          forests, and vibrant communities.  And we do 

22          not accept any public funding.

23                 You've heard a lot of important 

24          testimony today, and you have my full 


                                                                  520

 1          comments in front of you, so I will be brief.  

 2                 First I just wanted to share a little 

 3          bit about our Adirondack Park, this 

 4          incredible asset that we have as New Yorkers.  

 5          It's over 6 million acres.  It is the largest 

 6          park in the contiguous United States.  It's 

 7          right -- it's just two hours to the north of 

 8          us, and it's ours.

 9                 Half of this land is "Forever Wild" 

10          Forest Preserve.  It is protected by our 

11          state's Constitution.  And it is an asset to 

12          the people of the State of New York.  It's 

13          also half private land, and this is 

14          intermixed in a patchwork quilt.  And those 

15          private lands include working farms and 

16          forests and vibrant communities.  This park 

17          also contains 2,800 lakes and ponds and an 

18          estimated 30,000 miles of brooks and streams.  

19          Water is a centerpiece for the park.

20                 The park's combination of clean water, 

21          wilderness, and vibrant communities makes it 

22          a national treasure and attraction.

23                 So I would be remiss if I did not 

24          thank you for your collective action last 


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 1          year on our environmental budget.  You made 

 2          history with a $300 million EPF, also strong 

 3          increases in clean water infrastructure grant 

 4          funding, and increases in tourism funding.  

 5          And the park is stronger for your efforts.  

 6          So I just want to thank you for that.

 7                 Just a couple of other points I'd like 

 8          to emphasize.  First I want to talk about the 

 9          power of the EPF.  And you can see on the 

10          cover of your testimony this magnificent 

11          photo.  This place is the Boreas Ponds, and 

12          the Governor acquired the Boreas Ponds in the 

13          spring of last year, using Environmental 

14          Protection Fund monies, monies that you 

15          helped appropriate.  And so I encourage you 

16          to look at this picture and realize the 

17          impact that you have made.  It is truly 

18          powerful.

19                 This property is roughly the size of 

20          Manhattan, and it's part of the 

21          second-largest acquisition in the park's 

22          history.  This land has been purchased, but 

23          now it must be protected.  And so the 

24          Governor and his APA will now decide the fate 


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 1          of this parcel, and that will likely occur in 

 2          the spring of this year.  Your actions have 

 3          set the table for what could become a 

 4          timeless Adirondack legacy and a gift to 

 5          generations yet unborn.  

 6                 It's our hope that the Governor and 

 7          his APA protects this investment with a 

 8          wilderness classification for the pond and 

 9          with a one-mile buffer to the south of that 

10          pond.

11                 The second point I want to touch on is 

12          the issue of state land stewardship.  Our 

13          state, through this purchase, has acquired 

14          65,000 acres of land over the last five or 

15          six years.  It's truly historic.  And these 

16          acres are a valuable addition to our Forest 

17          Preserve.  These state lands are both an 

18          environmental asset and an economic asset.  

19          Through the Boreas Ponds classification, we 

20          saw common agreement amongst all stakeholders 

21          that the state can and should do more to 

22          manage the lands that we have.  This means 

23          staffing and stewardship funding.  

24                 The third point that I want to make is 


                                                                  523

 1          with regards to water infrastructure funding.  

 2          We are absolutely thrilled to see the 

 3          Governor and the Legislature championing 

 4          water infrastructure funding with various 

 5          proposals this year.  We've heard so much 

 6          today about the need in our state.  The 

 7          Adirondack Council released a report just 

 8          this last fall that identified over 

 9          $100 million in current identified wastewater 

10          infrastructure needs in the Adirondack Park 

11          alone.  These are communities that are very 

12          small in population, but they serve 

13          incredibly large populations of visitors.  

14          We're talking 10 million visitors a year to 

15          the park, and a resident population of just 

16          130,000 year-round.  Plus 260,000, give or 

17          take, seasonal residents.  So a small 

18          population serving a very large population.  

19                 This places a heavy burden on their 

20          infrastructure, and it's something we should 

21          pay attention to, given the fact that the 

22          parks communities are an integral part of the 

23          Adirondack Park model and therefore an asset 

24          to the protection of the park.


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 1                 So with that, with all the competing 

 2          proposals that are out there, we're very 

 3          excited to see this conversation taking 

 4          place, and we urge you all to do absolutely 

 5          everything that you can this year to fund 

 6          water infrastructure.  And we know that you 

 7          will.  

 8                 And with that, I just thank you so 

 9          much for this opportunity.  Thank you.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

13                 MR. CHLAD:  Thanks, everyone.  

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So next we have Neil 

15          Woodworth, from Adirondack Mountain Club.  

16                 And get ready after him, Peter Bauer, 

17          from Protect the Adirondacks.

18                 MR. BAUER:  I don't see Neil.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Oh, you don't see 

20          Neil?  Does anybody here represent Neil?  

21          Okay, we've lost them.  

22                 So thank you, Peter Bauer from Protect 

23          the Adirondacks.

24                 Thank you, and following is Dan 


                                                                  525

 1          Shapley from Riverkeeper.

 2                 (Discussion off the record.)

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  All right, if you're 

 4          ready, you go right ahead.

 5                 MR. BAUER:  I don't want to be accused 

 6          of jumping in front of the Mountain Club, 

 7          so -- those folks are tough.  They climb 

 8          mountains.  They would step all over me.

 9                 I thank you all for your stamina 

10          today, for the Senators and for the 

11          Assemblymembers that are here.  Thank you 

12          very much for your work protecting the 

13          environment.  

14                 I also thank your staffs for their 

15          great work in putting all of this stuff 

16          together, and helping to protect our 

17          environment in the state, seated behind you.  

18          I also thank all of my brother and sister 

19          advocates seated behind me who do such great 

20          work.

21                 I also thank you for stepping up this 

22          legislative session.  And we have some 

23          interesting bond act proposals, and those 

24          will be deliberated -- 


                                                                  526

 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And before you 

 2          continue, I'm sorry.  (To staffer.)  So you 

 3          just handed out Adirondack Mountain Club, 

 4          which is great, but they're not here.  So can 

 5          you now hand out Peter Bauer's testimony, 

 6          because he's the gentleman testifying. 

 7                 Thanks.  So sorry.

 8                 MR. BAUER:  You're welcome.  

 9                 There's some very interesting bond act 

10          proposals on your docket which will help 

11          immensely for New York's environment.  So I 

12          look forward to seeing more work done on 

13          those in the future.

14                 I will be brief.  You've had a lot to 

15          deal with today, you've had a lot of 

16          information presented to you.  And I just 

17          want to talk about four things very briefly, 

18          mostly that you haven't heard before.

19                 One, we want to express our support 

20          for the Environmental Protection Fund.  

21          Important fund, $300 million second year in a 

22          row.  We think the EPF is underfunded, and we 

23          think it should be a billion dollars a year 

24          or more to really focus on the key challenges 


                                                                  527

 1          facing the environment of this state.

 2                 The land acquisition monies that are 

 3          there are the bare minimum.  The invasive 

 4          species monies that are there, the bare 

 5          minimum.  The state land stewardship monies 

 6          that are there are the bare minimum.  We need 

 7          more resources for the EPF.  

 8                 I think the Legislature could do a 

 9          couple of things.  I'm not sure that we've 

10          had oversight hearings on how effective the 

11          EPF has been, what the major environmental 

12          priorities are for the State of New York.  I 

13          think that would be a very useful set of 

14          hearings for advocates and for people across 

15          the state, for local government and others, 

16          to really focus on what the key challenges 

17          are for our environment in New York.  I think 

18          many of our key challenges -- for clean 

19          water, for municipal infrastructure, for land 

20          protection, for invasive species -- are 

21          critically underfunded.  

22                 Secondly, I would like to point to one 

23          thing that's not listed in the EPF and not 

24          dealt with really in the state land 


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 1          stewardship program, and that's funding for 

 2          the High Peaks.  

 3                 The High Peaks Wilderness Area is the 

 4          most heavily used area of our Forest 

 5          Preserve.  Certain trails in the High Peaks 

 6          are now seeing 33,000, 35,000, 36,000 hikers 

 7          a year.  On some fall weekends we have a 

 8          thousand people on a summit at any one time.  

 9                 The High Peaks is not getting the 

10          investment it needs.  There's funding going 

11          to other places in the Adirondacks, but we're 

12          not getting the funding we need for really 

13          the most successful wild-lands area we have 

14          in the Adirondacks.  The High Peaks is a key 

15          draw for the Lake Placid tourism economy -- 

16          arguably, after Lake George, the most dynamic 

17          tourism economy we have in the park, and very 

18          successful.  So we need to focus in our EPF 

19          funding on funding for the High Peaks.  We're 

20          five years behind on trail maintenance and 

21          infrastructure, and that's something I would 

22          encourage you to look at.  

23                 I would also draw your attention to 

24          funding in the NY Works program.  We're very 


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 1          concerned about funding for a couple of 

 2          projects in NY Works, and I think the 

 3          Legislature should really take a very close 

 4          look at it.  One, the Governor has come out 

 5          and called for $32 million of spending at 

 6          Exit 29 on the Adirondack Northway to create 

 7          a new campground, a new tourism complex, a 

 8          new visitor center.  There are two private 

 9          campgrounds within a mile of this new state 

10          campground.  There are three state 

11          campgrounds a short distance away.  While we 

12          certainly appreciate the Governor's effort to 

13          put $32 million into building this new 

14          complex, we think it bears a really hard 

15          look, and folks should look at whether that's 

16          the best way to spend this amount of money.  

17          We have a lot of questions about it, and in 

18          many ways it's a real head-scratcher.  

19                 Last, I want to draw your attention to 

20          other funding in the Adventure NY program.  

21          They talk about hut-to-hut funding, and we're 

22          concerned about buildings on the Forest 

23          Preserve.  We're concerned about the state 

24          trying to build cabins on the Forest Preserve 


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 1          or the state trying to build temporary 

 2          yurt-like structures on the Forest Preserve.  

 3          In our minds, that issue was settled decades 

 4          ago with a public vote on the Closed Cabin 

 5          Amendment, a constitutional amendment that 

 6          went to the voters.  The voters voted it 

 7          down.  

 8                 We don't think that the Governor and 

 9          the DEC should be trying to build buildings 

10          on the Forest Preserve through administrative 

11          fiat.  If that's something that they really 

12          want to do, they should go for a 

13          constitutional amendment and let the voters 

14          determine if that's the best use of the 

15          Forest Preserve and if that's their vision 

16          for the Forest Preserve.  

17                 So thank you very much for the 

18          opportunity to bring these issues to your 

19          attention, and thank you all for your good 

20          work.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

23          Executive Director Bauer.

24                 Our next speaker is Water Quality 


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 1          Program Director Dan Shapley from 

 2          Riverkeeper, Inc. 

 3                 And in the queue is Director of Public 

 4          Policy Andy Bicking, from Scenic Hudson.  So 

 5          if you could be ready, please.  

 6                 Welcome, Mr. Shapley.

 7                 MR. SHAPLEY:  Thank you.  Thank you 

 8          for having me.  Thank you for hearing from 

 9          Riverkeeper.  And to echo my colleagues, 

10          thank you for your past and continuing 

11          support for the Water Infrastructure 

12          Improvement Act and the EPF, both critical 

13          sources of funding that we're very much in 

14          support of.  

15                 I want to try to bring to you some 

16          perspective.  I'm not going to try to recite 

17          my testimony in any way.  My main job is not 

18          to come and speak to you all, frankly, but 

19          it's to get out and gather water quality 

20          samples.  So I'm going to give you some 

21          perspective on what Riverkeeper does and what 

22          its found and why some of these investments 

23          we've talked about today are going to be so 

24          meaningful.


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 1                 We, with partners, gather data from 

 2          400 locations each year as of 2016.  Working 

 3          with over 160 individuals, we took over 4700 

 4          samples of water throughout the Hudson River 

 5          Watershed last year.  And what I always say 

 6          is, that's 4700 votes for clean water.  These 

 7          are individuals who give up some time on 

 8          their weekend to go out and measure water 

 9          quality in the Hudson River or in the local 

10          creek that runs by their house.  And what 

11          we've found has given us a really unique 

12          perspective on some of the issues that we 

13          face.

14                 When it comes to infrastructure 

15          investment, we're very supportive of the 

16          Governor's proposal and very supportive of 

17          some of the proposals that have come out of 

18          the Legislature to go even beyond that with 

19          some of the bond act proposals.  The 

20          $80 billion in need that you've heard about 

21          for water infrastructure, what that looks 

22          like on the ground is that over half of the 

23          sites that we've sampled in the Hudson River 

24          over the past almost 10 years failed to meet 


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 1          federal safe swimming guidelines.  Over half.  

 2                 We want a Hudson River we can swim in.  

 3          And in fact, we have a Hudson River that many 

 4          people do swim in.  This is just one example, 

 5          but this is the Eight Bridges Swim.  It's a 

 6          photo from it.  That's the longest open-water 

 7          swim event in the world, and it happens in 

 8          the Hudson River every year.  In fact, the 

 9          Hudson is the playground for people who live 

10          in and enjoy the Hudson River Valley.

11                 And yet we know that the region has 

12          over $2.5 billion worth of wastewater 

13          infrastructure needs outside of New York 

14          City, within the Hudson River Watershed.  

15          That's for wastewater alone.  And we know 

16          it's based on only about 30 percent of 

17          communities having accounted for their needs.  

18          So we know that the need in fact is much 

19          greater.  

20                 So we know that whatever you can put 

21          into that infrastructure spending pot will 

22          get spent well, and we want to make sure that 

23          it can be spent in the Hudson River 

24          Watershed, which has the greatest wastewater 


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 1          impacts of any estuary in our country, we 

 2          believe.  It has more population than any 

 3          other watershed.  And yet the funding 

 4          formulas for some of the grant programs and 

 5          loan programs disadvantage the Hudson River 

 6          Valley because of our relatively high median 

 7          household income, but it doesn't take into 

 8          account things like our high cost of living, 

 9          our high cost of housing.  So our actual 

10          buying power may not be any higher than 

11          communities with a lower household income, 

12          but we are disadvantaged because of the 

13          funding formulas in some cases.  

14                 So I encourage you to think about how 

15          the money can be spent in a way to benefit 

16          the Hudson River, this great resource that we 

17          have, central to our state.  

18                 I do want to mention in the EPF the 

19          Water Quality Improvement Projects line is a 

20          critical source of infrastructure spending.  

21          It's been there for many years and funds 

22          critical projects.  It keeps getting carved 

23          up in little bits.  And we really feel that, 

24          as much as possible, it should be spent 


                                                                  535

 1          competitively, because that's such a strong 

 2          source of infrastructure spending that's been 

 3          around independently of the more recent 

 4          investments that have come out.

 5                 On source water protection, this is 

 6          something that Riverkeeper has been a strong 

 7          advocate of, from again an on-the-ground 

 8          understanding of the impacts through our work 

 9          in Newburgh.  Which, as you know, it's a city 

10          of 30,000 people that has toxic water 

11          contamination in their primary reservoir.  

12          What you may not have heard about Newburgh is 

13          that their drinking water shed is 

14          fundamentally unprotected.  It is a 

15          suburbanized, commercial development ringing 

16          the watershed.  So it's an example of what 

17          happens when we don't have good source water 

18          protection.  

19                 And we're working hard in Newburgh to 

20          make their new source water assessment 

21          robust, comprehensive, so it can be a model 

22          for the state for how we reorient around 

23          protective strategies to ensure long-term 

24          water quality for our cities and villages.  


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 1                 And those costs, I want to point out, 

 2          are largely unaccounted for.  The 

 3          Comptroller's report that came out today 

 4          assessing $40 billion, I believe, in drinking 

 5          water needs, does not get at the source water 

 6          protection need, that need to protect 

 7          watersheds and the streams flowing into water 

 8          reservoirs, and protecting wellheads, to 

 9          ensure that the water quality before it 

10          reaches the plant or touches a pipe is of 

11          high quality.  

12                 And as we know in New York City and 

13          the experience we have protecting New York 

14          City's drinking water supply, that's the key 

15          to having world-class water supplies.  And 

16          it's what we need to start helping more of 

17          our villages and cities around the state 

18          achieve, starting with Newburgh.

19                 And we know, of course, that the cost 

20          of failing at source water protection -- we 

21          know very well now from Hoosick Falls and 

22          Newburgh, and we want to avoid as much of 

23          that as possible.

24                 Finally, I'll wrap up with one other 


                                                                  537

 1          short anecdote, and that is the Wallkill 

 2          River, which runs out of New Jersey, through 

 3          Orange County and Ulster County, and meets 

 4          the Hudson near Kingston after joining the 

 5          Rondout Creek.  It's one of the largest 

 6          tributaries of the Hudson River.  And this 

 7          summer, 30 miles turned bright green and 

 8          produced toxins.  The river itself became 

 9          toxic because of a harmful algal bloom that 

10          persisted for over 60 days.  

11                 Now, around the state we know that 

12          there are a lot of these harmful algal 

13          blooms, primarily, though, affecting lakes 

14          and ponds.  This was a river, flowing water, 

15          affected for over 30 miles.  And there's a 

16          DEC study that has been proposed, it would 

17          cost $300,000 this year, $500,000 the next, 

18          to really get at the underlying causes of 

19          that episode and other problems that the 

20          river faces.  

21                 So we feel strongly that that should 

22          be funded, but we think that this also points 

23          to the real need to increase staff and budget 

24          for the DEC.  Which, as you know, has been 


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 1          just stripped to the bone over many years, 

 2          and there is no real proposal that I see to 

 3          increase staff.  And if we don't have 

 4          assessments and we don't have watershed 

 5          protection plans and we don't have all of the 

 6          fundamentals of the Clean Water Act, then we 

 7          really are not spending our money as wisely 

 8          as we could.  

 9                 All of the infrastructure and source 

10          water protection, those capital improvements, 

11          is absolutely essential.  But enforcing our 

12          clean water laws really is as fundamental to 

13          achieving what we all want, which is clean, 

14          safe drinking water and water that's safe for 

15          recreation and healthy for wildlife.

16                 So with that, I will close my remarks.  

17          I'm happy to take any questions if you have 

18          any.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

20                 Questions?

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Any questions?  

22                 Thank you so much.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.  

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.


                                                                  539

 1                 MR. SHAPLEY:  Thank you.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

 3          Director of Public Policy Andy Bicking, from 

 4          Scenic Hudson.  

 5                 And following Mr. Bicking is 

 6          Erik Kulleseid, from the Open Space 

 7          Institute.  So please be ready.

 8                 Welcome, Mr. Bicking.

 9                 MR. BICKING:  Thank you, Chairwoman.  

10          And thank you, everyone, for this opportunity 

11          to speak to you today.  

12                 And thank you for your historic 

13          support of so many strong environmental 

14          outcomes in budgets of the past.  Your 

15          leadership has really helped deliver what we 

16          love most about New York, and that is our 

17          clean air, our clean water, protected 

18          parklands, working farms, and good quality 

19          jobs.  So we appreciate all the work that you 

20          have done.  

21                 My name is Andy Bicking.  I'm director 

22          of public policy for Scenic Hudson.  I'm 

23          honored to follow my colleague Dan Shapley at 

24          Riverkeeper.  Scenic Hudson is to the Hudson 


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 1          Valley's land and waterfront what Riverkeeper 

 2          is to the water itself, and we work in 

 3          partnership on many important issues.

 4                 I want to speak today to three major 

 5          elements of the State Budget:  The 

 6          Environmental Protection Fund, of course, 

 7          which you've heard quite a bit about; the 

 8          Water Infrastructure Act; as well as the 

 9          Empire State Trail.  I'll be skipping through 

10          my testimony to really focus on those 

11          elements that I think are so unique that 

12          maybe you haven't heard them from advocates 

13          yet today.  But rest assured that we support 

14          all three of these proposals, for many of the 

15          reasons which have been stated.

16                 With respect to the Environmental 

17          Protection Fund, we strongly support the 

18          $300 million proposal from the Governor.  In 

19          particular, looking at programs within the 

20          fund, we wish to express support for Hudson 

21          Estuary Management.  The Executive has 

22          proposed $5.5 million for the Hudson Estuary 

23          Management Program.  That's a $500,000 

24          increase from last year's budget.  This 


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 1          includes $800,000 for implementation of the 

 2          Mohawk River Action Plan.  

 3                 We see this allocation in this year's 

 4          proposal from the Executive as a very 

 5          important step to rebuilding all that the 

 6          program has to offer through its action 

 7          agenda, which is a stakeholder-driven plan 

 8          that is held with high accountability within 

 9          the department and our local communities, 

10          that helps get funding out to local 

11          governments and community organizations that 

12          implement the plan.

13                 However, we do note that in the 2008 

14          and 2009 fiscal year, when EPF totaled $255 

15          million, the program actually received more 

16          money than it does under the proposal we see 

17          today for a $300 million EPF.  So we are very 

18          much appreciate of the modest increase which 

19          has been received.

20                 I'd also like to comment on the open 

21          space land acquisition line item within the 

22          EPF.  Scenic Hudson is a land trust, and the 

23          Executive Budget proposal includes 

24          $33 million for open space conservation.  We 


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 1          would note that this represents a $7 million 

 2          increase from the $40 million in last year's 

 3          budget.  So we are understandably concerned 

 4          about this reduction, especially given that 

 5          the program had received $60 million in 

 6          appropriations, again, when the EPF was at 

 7          $255 million in 2008-2009.

 8                 Scenic Hudson has a plan for 

 9          conserving the region's landscapes.  It's 

10          known as Saving the Land that Matters Most.  

11          It's a data-driven plan that scientifically 

12          arrives at goals for the region looking at a 

13          variety of conservation priorities, including 

14          access to recreation and parks, including 

15          access to the water, including protecting our 

16          scenic ridgelines, as well as important 

17          habitat.

18                 One of the key things of our Saving 

19          the Land that Matters Most plan is farmland 

20          protection, which you have heard quite a bit 

21          about from us in the past.  I'd like to thank 

22          you for your work, I guess it was two years 

23          ago, for the Hudson Valley Agricultural 

24          Enhancement Program, which in conjunction 


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 1          with the statewide Farmland Protection 

 2          Program has really done an incredible amount 

 3          of work helping local farmers to conserve the 

 4          land and then taking the money they often 

 5          receive for conservation easements and 

 6          reinvesting those into their businesses and 

 7          the local economy.

 8                 The Executive Budget includes 

 9          $20 million for statewide farmland protection 

10          projects.  This is something that we do 

11          support.  Again, demand remains incredibly 

12          high.  According to our partners, the 

13          American Farmland Trust, in 2016 alone, 

14          approximately 65 applications totaling 

15          $49 million were submitted to the Department 

16          of Agriculture and Markets.  And so I think 

17          this underscores the immense popularity of 

18          the program.

19                 We have urged the department to 

20          maintain an annual request for proposals for 

21          projects.  I would note that at one point in 

22          time the department was considering coming 

23          out with RFPs every other year, which is 

24          something we have been concerned would affect 


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 1          the agricultural community's feeling of 

 2          confidence in the fund.  So we encourage the 

 3          Legislature and Executive to do everything 

 4          they can do to keep the program moving on an 

 5          annual basis.

 6                 The next section of the EPF I'd like 

 7          to address is the navigational law category.  

 8          You have heard about this from others today.  

 9          In short, we see this as an offload from the 

10          Aid to Localities budget and would 

11          respectfully request that you do what you can 

12          to place it back into the program which it 

13          originally came from.

14                 We have seen some really exciting 

15          legislation, Article VII legislation, related 

16          to the Waterfront Revitalization Program, 

17          which Scenic Hudson is a strong supporter of.  

18          As you've heard earlier, this would reduce 

19          the amount of local share for grants local 

20          governments receive from the Department of 

21          State.  

22                 We applaud this proposal, as we see it 

23          as making the development of local waterfront 

24          revitalization plans, which are so critical 


                                                                  545

 1          for our local and regional economy in the 

 2          region, more possible and more feasible for 

 3          communities who are fiscally challenged to be 

 4          able to step up and make a plan for their 

 5          future.

 6                 The final item in the EPF I'd like to 

 7          address also comes with a note of thanks to 

 8          the Legislature.  The Executive Budget 

 9          includes new funding for natural resource 

10          damage assessment in the Hudson River.  There 

11          is an increase of approximately 

12          $1.285 million.  This is critically important 

13          to enable the state to conduct research to 

14          assess the damages to the Hudson River as a 

15          result of contamination of toxic 

16          polychlorinated biphenyls.  This is an issue 

17          I know that is very important to many of you.  

18          Chairman Englebright, I know you in 

19          particular showed some incredible leadership 

20          on this last spring when we asked members of 

21          the Legislature to write to the Governor and 

22          General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt.  The 

23          good news is your advocacy has paid off and 

24          it has made a difference.  We saw this past 


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 1          September the State DEC and the Attorney 

 2          General's office stepped up in a public 

 3          statement calling for additional dredging of 

 4          toxin hotspots in the Hudson River, and have 

 5          been very strong advocates for this cause in 

 6          Washington.  The fight is not over yet, but 

 7          we remain optimistic and committed to this 

 8          important goal.

 9                 The Clean Water Infrastructure Act has 

10          received a lot of praise today.  This is 

11          something that we support.  We applaud the 

12          executive branch for recognizing that there 

13          is not a one-size-fits-all solution to 

14          addressing water quality issues.  As a land 

15          trust, we are very excited to see the source 

16          water protection category included.  This is 

17          one of the most cost-effective means of 

18          protecting water quality that we know of.  

19          And because of this, we are responding to 

20          begin to do the work to identify where 

21          regional priorities in the Hudson Valley 

22          might be and where we might be able to 

23          partner to help leverage this fund for public 

24          benefit.


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 1                 I would now just like to jump to the 

 2          final section of the testimony, which is the 

 3          Empire State Trail.  We're very excited with 

 4          this proposal as well.  Phase One will cost 

 5          about $53 million and create the most 

 6          extensive multi-use trail network in the 

 7          nation.  This builds on years of legislative 

 8          leadership and support for the Hudson River 

 9          Valley Greenway as well as other elements of 

10          the trail.

11                 The project is largely shovel-ready.  

12          And there is so much that can be done to 

13          create jobs and create this amenity for local 

14          communities, which I'm sure will help enhance 

15          home values, increase tourism, and create 

16          something that all New Yorkers can be proud 

17          of.

18                 We do recognize and we have heard, 

19          sitting in Hudson River Valley Greenway 

20          Community Councils' meetings, that there are 

21          some members in the region and throughout the 

22          state that are questioning if this proposal 

23          will benefit their local trail.  And I would 

24          just say in response to this that I think the 


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 1          vision of a statewide trail network is 

 2          outstanding, and it really requires a trunk 

 3          or a skeleton, if you will.  And an 

 4          investment over the next three years in the 

 5          Empire State Trail I believe will create some 

 6          common ground for and opportunities for 

 7          greater connectivity for many other local and 

 8          regional trail networks.  And we welcome an 

 9          ongoing discussion about how to achieve that 

10          in many other regions of the state.

11                 So with that, I'll conclude my 

12          testimony.  Thank you again for the 

13          opportunity to speak before you today.  And 

14          if you have any questions, I'd be happy to 

15          answer them.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

17          much.  We appreciate it.  

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

20                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

22          Erik Kulleseid, senior vice president for the 

23          Open Space Institute and executive director 

24          of the Alliance for New York State Parks.  


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 1          Welcome.

 2                 And we have, following that, several 

 3          members of the Police Benevolent Association 

 4          of New York State, and we look forward to 

 5          their testimony.

 6                 Thank you.  

 7                 MR. KULLESEID:  Am I on?

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.

 9                 MR. KULLESEID:  So I feel like I have 

10          very good company here.  I have Senator Clay 

11          Pit Ponds, Senator Almost Four Freedoms, 

12          Senator Allegany --

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Cattaraugus, 

14          Chautauqua --

15                 MR. KULLESEID:  -- Letchworth, Long 

16          Point, Midway -- lots of parks -- Assemblyman 

17          Riverbank, Assemblyman Fair Haven and Chimney 

18          Bluffs.  Assemblyman Englebright, you are the 

19          steward of them, all through the Parks and 

20          Tourism Committee, so you get all of them.  

21          And Assemblyman Stec, for Crown Point and 

22          really almost Moreau Lake State Park, right?  

23                 You all get the state park system.  

24          And thank you for letting me come here today 


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 1          to talk about the Governor's budget proposal.

 2                 I will not read through my testimony.  

 3          Suffice it to say I think that our parks and 

 4          public lands are going through the kind of 

 5          renaissance that happens once a generation, 

 6          and I really support and congratulate you all 

 7          for your fine stewardship and partnership 

 8          with the Governor to make sure that our 

 9          public lands are as good as they can be for 

10          the people of the State of New York.  It's 

11          really been an exceptional period.

12                 I note, obviously, full support for 

13          $120 million for the New York Parks 2020 in 

14          2017.  I think the corresponding program at 

15          the DEC in Adventure NY, and the $30 million 

16          that's been put in the budget there, is only 

17          apt for places like the Adirondacks, which 

18          are huge destinations, different kinds of 

19          places than some of the other parks, but 

20          still just as worthy of getting this kind of 

21          investment.

22                 Sort of on the rest of the budget, I 

23          think it's hard -- you know, both of these 

24          agencies are being held flat.  And as I say 


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 1          in the testimony, they're facing a triple 

 2          whammy these days, and that is budget cuts 

 3          over the past nine years now of over 

 4          20 percent since the late aughts, rising 

 5          fixed costs that are out of their control, 

 6          and a growing number of visitors.  I think we 

 7          all are aware that last year 70 million 

 8          people visited the state park system, which 

 9          is a record attendance.  And how do we 

10          maintain that system at a level of excellence 

11          that people keep coming back and wanting to 

12          be in them?

13                 We also do support the EPF.  We are 

14          very pleased about the $300 million EPF this 

15          year.  There are four categories that OSI is 

16          particularly interested in.  That's the State 

17          Land Stewardship line and its New York State 

18          Park and Trail Partnership Program funding -- 

19          that's the funding to build the capacity of 

20          friends groups to help parks.  We also are 

21          very invested and dependent on the Municipal 

22          Grants line to help us fund our capital 

23          projects that we're doing in the state parks.  

24          And we also feel strongly about the Open 


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 1          Space and Land Conservation account.

 2                 Really nothing but good to say about 

 3          State Land Stewardship and the Park and Trail 

 4          conservation program.  It enables groups like 

 5          ours -- and we've really done projects now, 

 6          we have done fundraising projects in 

 7          Letchworth now, we helped build the 

 8          Letchworth Nature Center.  We are at Thatcher 

 9          here in this area, we've been doing things at 

10          Minnewaska -- and that is all work that we 

11          could not do without the support of many of 

12          these state programs.  

13                 I would say -- like others before me, 

14          I won't dwell on it -- we also question 

15          closely the inclusion of $2 million for the 

16          Navigation Law in the budget.  It seems like 

17          an offload, and that it should be reversed 

18          during budget negotiations.

19                 We also see the drop in the Open Space 

20          Conservation account to $33 million as 

21          something that is somewhat troubling.  We 

22          understand that there is intended to be land 

23          acquisition dollars in the water 

24          infrastructure $2 billion initiative.  But 


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 1          having not seen the details on that, we can 

 2          only say let's really hope that it's money 

 3          that is accessible and spendable and that we 

 4          can move out the door to continue, maintain 

 5          the momentum for land conservation that 

 6          New York has been so good at and so proud of.

 7                 We also are actually supportive, we 

 8          support the new Adirondack Gateway at 

 9          Frontier Town in the Adirondacks.  A previous 

10          testifier was concerned about $32 million.  I 

11          think that's actually a combination of 

12          private and public dollars.  But we think 

13          that any kind of initiative in that area that 

14          brings people, creates another way to get 

15          into the park is a good thing.  

16                 And then finally -- and, Assemblyman 

17          Englebright, you've been focusing on this 

18          today -- the Empire State Trail.  We really 

19          do feel it's a very great catalyst for 

20          building a network.  You know, we are 

21          building trails that will tie into that.  I 

22          think that's one of the pieces of magic 

23          you'll see, is that many communities will tie 

24          into this trail, it will knit together the 


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 1          state in a great, great web.  

 2                 Yes, Long Island should be brought in.  

 3          Yes, the Thousand Islands region ought to be 

 4          brought in.  But since you do have these 

 5          really fairly well formed trunks, we ought to 

 6          go with it and then pull in Long Island.  I 

 7          think what they're doing on Long Island with 

 8          the Ocean Parkway and the -- what is the W 

 9          one, the park?  Wantagh.  Wantagh, sorry.  

10          That work is really fabulous, right?  It's 

11          really making those south barrier islands 

12          available to bikers.

13                 So really, just in summary, we are 

14          very happy about this budget.  A couple of 

15          red flags in that budget that I hope you will 

16          work through.  We look forward to seeing the 

17          details on the water infrastructure 

18          $2 billion.  But other than that, really, 

19          again, thank you for letting me be here 

20          today, and we look forward to working in many 

21          of your parks to build infrastructure.  

22                 Assemblyman Farrell, we've got things 

23          we want to do at Riverbank as well.  So it's 

24          all good.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Questions?  

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 3                 MR. KULLESEID:  Thanks.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you so much 

 5          for being here.

 6                 MR. KULLESEID:  My pleasure.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So next I'm very 

 8          pleased to introduce Drew Cavanagh, secretary 

 9          and director of Forest Rangers Superior 

10          Officers; Manuel Vilar, vice president/CAO 

11          and director of Park Police Sergeants; and 

12          John Burke, director, New York State EnCon 

13          Police Superior Officers.  And they are from 

14          the Police Benevolent Association of New York 

15          State.  

16                 Thank you so much for being here 

17          today.

18                 DIRECTOR CAVANAGH:  Thank you, and 

19          good evening.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good evening.

21                 DIRECTOR CAVANAGH:  My name is Drew 

22          Cavanagh.  I'm the secretary of the PBA and 

23          the director of the Forest Rangers Superior 

24          Officers Association.  


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 1                 As you said, I'm here with Manny 

 2          Vilar, who is our founding president and the 

 3          director of the Park Police Sergeants 

 4          Association, and John Burke, the director of 

 5          the Environmental Conservation Superior 

 6          Officers Association.

 7                 We're here to offer testimony on 

 8          behalf of our 1200 members and specifically 

 9          to address the budget priorities of the 

10          Department of Environmental Conservation's 

11          Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation 

12          Officers, and the Office of Parks, Recreation 

13          and Historic Preservation's Park Police.

14                 We thank the Legislature for the 

15          opportunity to present our concerns on behalf 

16          of the men and women who put their lives on 

17          the line protecting the people and resources 

18          of the State of New York.  

19                 We begin by discussing the critical 

20          public safety role played by Forest Rangers.  

21          Forest Rangers protect our public lands and 

22          the people who use them.  We respond to plane 

23          crashes in remote areas, airlift hikers 

24          stranded on mountaintops, rescue people who 


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 1          have fallen through the ice, search for lost 

 2          children, the elderly, or anybody who needs 

 3          help.  Last year there were over 350 rescue 

 4          missions, and every year the number goes up.

 5                 While I was sitting up here waiting to 

 6          testify, I was trying to coordinate with -- I 

 7          wasn't doing the work, but I was talking to 

 8          my lieutenants in the region who are rescuing 

 9          an injured snowmobiler on Raquette Lake right 

10          now.  So we're doing it.

11                 We thank the Legislature for their 

12          past support.  The missions are important, 

13          they matter, and we're honored to do our part 

14          here.

15                 We're encouraged and thank Governor 

16          Cuomo and the DEC and the Legislature for the 

17          joint Environmental Conservation 

18          Officer/Forest Ranger academy that started 

19          yesterday.  We have 44 new recruits, future 

20          ECOs and Forest Rangers, and we're really 

21          excited about that.  Anytime we get new 

22          staff, we're excited about it.

23                 It's a start, but our numbers are far 

24          too low.  We just need to replenish them 


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 1          somehow.  Unfortunately, simply having 

 2          sufficient staff to accomplish our division's 

 3          mission has become an overriding concern.  

 4          There are not enough Forest Rangers.  We just 

 5          don't have enough people.

 6                 I have a few facts and figures I just 

 7          want to mention.  In 1970, there were 143 

 8          Forest Rangers, and they were patrolling 

 9          3.5 million acres of public land, most of 

10          which was in the Adirondack and the Catskill 

11          Preserves.  Today, even with our recent 

12          hiring yesterday, there are 129 Forest 

13          Rangers, and now we have 5 million acres of 

14          state land.  So the numbers are going the 

15          wrong way.

16                 While the majority of this is Forest 

17          Preserve, the DEC now administers thousands 

18          of acres of State Forest, conservation 

19          easements.  And we say -- I heard someone 

20          earlier talking about the New York City 

21          Watershed.  We protect the New York City 

22          Watershed.  We're the ones who actually 

23          patrol the lands around the New York City 

24          Watershed.  That's work that Forest Rangers 


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 1          are now doing.  And it's all new work without 

 2          new staff.

 3                 Once there was 28,000 acres a Forest 

 4          Rangers was patrolling; now it's over 53,000 

 5          acres, which is a big difference.  Now, as 

 6          we've accumulated land, what we've had happen 

 7          is a shell game.  The DEC moves Forest Ranger 

 8          positions around the state from one new 

 9          purchase to another.  Previously acquired 

10          lands are no longer adequately protected, and 

11          new lands never receive the attention they 

12          deserve.

13                 It's important that the