New York needs to go bigger — much bigger — on environment


New York State needs to vastly expand its environmental agenda and follow California’s examples of trying to preserve the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because we have a president who flogs fossil fuels with all the energy of a single-minded snake oil salesman desperate to make money with no regard for the possible perils of tomorrow.

There are many actions Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature can take to improve the state’s environment and protect us as much as possible from a climate change disaster.

For example, the state offers a $2,000 tax rebate for consumers buying electric vehicles. This should be increased to $10,000 per vehicle to greatly accelerate sales.

Also, the state could offer a bigger income tax credit for people installing solar energy equipment for their homes. Right now, the credit stands at 25 percent of the cost of the system, with a $5,000 limit. How about offering a 40 percent credit for homeowners who sign up in the next two years? People might well rush to install solar.

Additionally, the state could offer a 10 percent rebate for homeowners and apartment dwellers who buy wind power. Wind power can be purchased for Con Edison, CleanChoice Energy, Green Mountain Power and other supplies, but it seems that not enough people know about it. If the state advertised a rebate, we could get more people signing up for wind, which is a lot easier to buy than solar.

Unlike solar, you don’t have to install anything. All you need to do is sign a contract with a reputable company. 

Also, New York State could work with its cities and counties to plan trees in urban areas. New York City just planted a million trees, with the help of the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit devoted to planting trees, restoring community gardens and maintaining park land in the five boroughs, particularly in low-income areas.

What if the state created an independent non-profit agency modeled on the project? Small cities from Yonkers to Binghamton could use this non-profit organization to plant trees, start and maintain neighborhood gardens, and create new parks.

Another important thing to do would be to buy more land and preserve it in its natural state or as parks. 

For instance, right now, you can buy 5 acres of land in the town of Altmar in Oswego County upstate, for $25,000. That’s a pretty good price for a public park.

Finally, the state should incorporate far more environmental education in its science curriculum, from the first grade onward. 

I’ve seen far too many middle school and high school kids on the streets of Riverdale who seem to demonstrate no regard for their environment. We have too much litter on the streets with metal soda and energy drink cans and plastic bottles thrown on the ground daily, particularly on the pedestrian bridge at West 235th Street. 

If more people are educated about the benefits of recycling and preserving our environment, we will have a better chance of changing our throwaway culture and creating a society in which people acknowledge and act on the need to preserve the habitability of our state, and our planet. 

CORRECTION: Ethical Electric is now known as CleanChoice Energy. A point of view column in the June 22 edition included the former name.

Mike Gold,