Bold action is needed in Congress if the Adirondack Park is to benefit from several federal funding and policy initiatives that could combat acid rain, climate change and water pollution, while making much-needed investments in communities including broadband communications and new infrastructure to cope with more frequent storms and flooding, the Adirondack Council said in a statement to the press this week.
“We need Congress to approve the infrastructure act, a strong complimentary ‘Build Back Better” proposal, plus the FY22 budget, set aside partisanship and find ways to help the forests, waters, wildlife and people of the Adirondack Park,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “New York State is stepping up and our members are calling on the New York Congressional delegation and representatives from across the United States who care about this national treasure to step up too and take bold action now.”
The organization issued an Action Alert to its members and colleagues, calling for letters and emails asking federal officials to take action in behalf of the largest park in the contiguous United States. At 9,300 square miles, the Adirondack Park is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Glacier national parks, combined.
In its annual State of the Park report, the organization generally gave the Biden administration high marks for undoing some of the damage to environmental policies done by the Trump administration. However, the report noted that major funding initiatives were underway but not yet completed.
Appeal to Congress for Environmental & Economic Boost
In its action alert, the organization called for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps employed a century ago, during the Depression, to boost employment and construct new recreational and conservation infrastructure.
It called for new funding to bring broadband internet access to every home and business in the park that wanted it, via subsidies for connections to now widely-deployed fiber optic trunk cables.
The alert also called for improvements to air quality monitoring and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The NAAQS regulate emissions of pollutants that cause acid rain, smog, fine particles of soot, lead and mercury. In addition to its refusal to enforce the Clean Air Act, the Trump administration delayed approval of the 2015 standard until 2020, and then left its pollution levels the same as the inadequate 2008 standards. Improvements to NAAQS are needed across all pollutants.
In addition, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2019 indicating that the nation’s air quality monitoring system is antiquated and needs a multi-million-dollar modernization.
The alert noted: “In the coming days, Congress will undertake critical budget negotiations that could help fight acid rain and climate change and foster community vibrancy in the Adirondack Park. The Park has suffered the horrible impacts of acid rain and climate change with ecological damage compounded by dangerous flooding and prolonged hot weather that stresses wildlife like moose and trout. Additionally, gaps in broadband infrastructure have been detrimental to students, the elderly and small family businesses across the Adirondacks.
“Upcoming fiscal negotiations will consider investments in broadband infrastructure that can help provide improved internet accessibility across the Park. Also, funding for new infrastructure will help create jobs that will aid in sequestering carbon and making our Adirondack communities more resilient to flooding and fierce storms,” the alert says. “We need your help to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity.”
The organization called on members and supporters to email representatives right away and “tell them that the Adirondack Park is a national treasure that will play an essential role in fighting climate change and creating good-paying, equitable jobs.”
Specific Requests included:
- Establish the Civilian Climate Corps, invest $55 billion in clean water infrastructure, and $10 billion in electric vehicle chargers and mass transit.
- Invest at least $65 billion in broadband infrastructure to close “the last mile” across the U.S., an essential need for Adirondack communities.
- Invest no less than $300 million to rebuild the nation’s antiquated air quality monitoring network and improve the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.