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Prop 1 is a rare opportunity to protect, improve so much on Long Island

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OPINION |

On Election Day, Long Islanders have an important and rare chance, indeed a once-in-a-generation opportunity, to improve the quality of Long Island’s environment and the quality of their lives.

This can all be accomplished by approving the “Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs” Bond Act.

Also known as Proposition 1, the Bond Act authorizes $4.2 billion to address a wide variety of important environmental concerns focused in four areas: water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure, restoration and flood risk reduction, climate change mitigation, and open space land conservation and recreation.

In Suffolk County, Proposition 1 appears on the back of the ballot. (So make sure to turn the ballot over!) In Nassau County, the proposition is at the bottom, on the front of the ballot. 

Want more specifics as to the type of projects the “Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs” Bond Act will fund?

Here’s but a partial list: 

  • Improve water quality in our drinking water aquifers and stressed coastal waters like the Great South Bay and Long Island Sound by continuing sewage treatment plant upgrades and stormwater projects to reduce the impacts from road run-off.
  • Make improvements to our drinking water distribution system. Water suppliers are faced with high costs in treating emerging new contaminants like PFAS and PFOS and Bond Act funds will help suppliers install new treatment systems to keep drinking water safe. Additionally and alarmingly, New York has an estimated 350,000 miles of lead pipes currently used for distributing drinking water that need to be replaced (excess lead levels can stunt children’s intellectual growth and cause other serious health impacts).
  • Allow for local school districts to move away from heavily polluting diesel buses by purchasing electric buses. There is also significant funding for making school buildings and other governmental buildings more energy efficient.
  • Provide funds to acquire and protect key parcels threatened with development, such as coastal properties and those situated in the Long Island Pine Barrens, and to allow for the purchase of properties damaged by storm events through voluntary buyouts.

Besides meaningful environmental benefits, Proposition 1 will create significant economic growth by creating approximately 85,000 jobs for New Yorkers. It will also save local taxpayers by helping local governments finance key environmental projects.

And disadvantaged communities, often bearing the brunt of contamination and pollution in the past, will benefit by a requirement that 35 percent of Bond Act funds be used in these areas.

Over the past century, New York voters have approved 10 environmental bond acts like Proposition 1. 

All have contributed to the well-being of Long Islanders such as the last one approved in 1996, a generation ago. The current generation of Nassau and Suffolk County residents now have an opportunity to step up to protect the environment upon which our collective well-being depends — by approving the 2022 “Clean, Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs” Bond Act.

Let’s give a green thumbs up to Proposition 1.


The author, John L. Turner, is a conservation policy advocate with the Seatuck Environmental Association, which is based in Islip, N.Y. Photo credit: Luke Ormand