In recognition of Earth Day, State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-C-I-North Tonawanda, announced Wednesday three environmental bills he sponsored passed in the New York State Senate. These bills were part of a package of bills the Senate passed that would create new protections for natural resources, promote energy conservation, help create green jobs, and increase tourism through enhanced recreational opportunities.
Two of the bills sponsored by Ortt (S2905 and S4279) would promote the use of geothermal energy systems as a natural and renewable energy source while also fostering the creation of green jobs. The bills establish tax credits and incentivize the purchase and installation of geothermal heat pump system equipment.
"This legislation is sensible in its approach and will be significant in its impact," Ortt said. "Introducing installation incentives and tax credits to the geothermal industry will pay dividends across Western New York. In addition to protecting our environment for future generations, we're also creating local jobs and helping reduce costs for financially strapped energy customers."
Geothermal heat pump systems harvest the sun's energy stored in the ground to heat and cool buildings and to create hot water. GHP systems eliminate oil, gas or propane bills, while also reducing electricity costs for cooling during the summer months. Essentially, this legislation would result in lower energy bills for constituents, and help reduce volatile fossil fuel prices.
Bill Nowak, executive director of NY-GEO, said, "The NY-Geothermal Energy Organization thanks Sen. Ortt for recognizing the great savings in energy, emissions and dollars that come with installing geothermal heat pumps to heat, cool and provide hot water for our homes and buildings.
"Sen. Ortt listened closely when his constituents told him of the incredible savings they experienced when switching from burning fossil fuels to geothermal heat pumps. His bills for a geothermal tax credit on residential installations (S-2905) and sales tax exemptions for geothermal (S-4279) are on the cutting edge of national policy for bringing renewable thermal solutions to the American people. We salute Sen. Ortt for leading the way to the clean energy future!"
The other bill (S2953) sponsored by the senator deals with wildlife trapping. This bill authorizes regulations by the Department of Environmental Conservation, and relates to the regulation of live restraint cable devices to take wildlife.
State Sen. Marc Panepinto, meanwhile, secured a win for Erie County with the passage of his Green Home Tax Exemption (S.3644) bill.
"It is certainly fitting that, on Earth Day, my first piece of legislation passed simultaneously addresses environmental responsibility and the crushing burden that is our property tax climate," Panepinto said. "I am very proud to have gotten a bill through the State Senate, but I am even prouder of what it accomplishes. By authorizing a green home tax exemption in upwards of 35 percent, the State encourages the use of renewable energy and resources, which will have a positive impact on our environment.
"In addition to promoting greener practices, this bill will also help our region prosper by incentivizing critical growth in Erie County's recovering housing market. As I head into the final two months of session, I look forward to fighting for more meaningful legislation on behalf of Western New York."
LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. NAHB is a trade association that helps promote the policies that make housing a national priority.
All bills passed by the Senate will be sent to the Assembly.
Ortt said the Senate also demonstrated its commitment to the environment in recently enacting a state budget that contains significant funding increases and support for important environmental programs. The Environmental Protection Fund was increased by $15 million over last year to a total of $177 million to help promote conservation of open spaces, improve natural resources and enhance communities. More than $173 million in capital funding for state park improvements also were included.
The budget helped address serious environmental infrastructure needs throughout the state by providing $200 million over the next three years for grants to municipalities to repair and replace existing wastewater and drinking water systems. An additional $152.5 million in new funding will support other environmental infrastructure improvements, including flood control, cleanups, and environmental restoration projects. Also, the state Brownfield Cleanup Program was extended and amended so that more potentially contaminated sites will be cleaned up and put back to use to build the economy.