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Environmental bond act supporters give voters one final reminder for a cleaner and greener NY

An oval shaped sticker says " I voted" in bolded blue letter and is paired with a red, white and blue American flag.
Katie Zilcosky
/
WAER News
A "I voted" sticker given out after a citizen visits a polling place to vote in Onondaga County.

Supporters of the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act are reminding voters across the state who haven't cast their ballots to consider protecting the environment on Election Day.

Jessica Ottney Mahar, from the Nature Conservancy in Albany, said the 100-year-old aging water infrastructure is a big reason to support the bond.

"We have instances all over New York State where our drinking water systems are failing, or they're made of unsafe materials like lead service lines that bring water into people's homes, including in places like Syracuse," Ottney Mahar said.

She explains there's been a multitude of federal funding to address aging infrastructure upgrades, climate action projects and clean water funding. However, as Mahar points out, in order to secure funding, matching state and local funds are often required.

"So, this is an opportunity for New York to strike while the iron is hot, to not raise taxes and to make sure that we're able to undertake projects that will improve the quality of life for us today and for kids and grandkids," Ottney Mahar said.

Ottney Mahar said the bond act was passed simultaneously with the state budget and then authorized to appear on the ballot and left up to voters to decide.

For the first time, it contains a clause that requires 35% of the thresholds from projects to be set aside and assist communities disproportionately impacted by pollution. By focusing on socioeconomic issues, Ottney Mahar said the bond does more than protect the environment but benefits the state of living.

"It could be poverty, high unemployment, a majority minority community… and these communities are places where multiple situations have occurred, and they are often facing not only more pollution but the health impacts of that pollution," Ottney Mahar said. "Higher rates of asthma, heart disease, diabetes. So, this bond act will really work to restore public health and quality of life in those communities by ensuring that more than a third of the funding is dedicated to benefitting those communities."

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.