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For Release: Friday, April 22, 2022

On Earth Day, DEC Commissioner Seggos Announces New Climate Smart Communities Initiative to Coordinate Local Climate Action

Coordinators to Provides Technical Assistance to Help Municipalities Plan and Implement Initiatives

Community-Led Actions Advance New York's Nation-Leading Climate Goals

On Earth Day, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the launch of a new initiative designed to accelerate local action on climate change by providing technical assistance to municipalities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to current and future climate change impacts. DEC is contracting with three regional partners to serve as Climate Smart Communities Coordinators to serve as technical support providers and strategic planners to help guide local governments in the development of successful local climate action initiatives across New York State.

"To support New York's nation-leading actions to address the threat of climate change, we need all hands on deck. DEC's Climate Smart Communities program is designed to support on-the-ground efforts to reduce climate-altering emissions, ramp up renewable energy generation, and strengthen local infrastructure," said Commissioner Seggos. "The Climate Smart Communities Coordinators effort announced today provides our local partners with the technical assistance and support necessary to advance community-led efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience."

Climate Smart Communities Coordinators will use the New York State Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Certification (leaves DEC website) program as a roadmap for providing technical support to communities to help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, build resilience to climate change, and thrive in the new green economy.

The following contractors were selected through the competitive solicitation process to lead the multi-region Climate Smart Communities Coordinators teams:

  • Cameron Engineering for the downstate territory (Long Island and New York City);
  • Capital District Regional Planning Commission for the eastern territory (Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, and North Country); and
  • Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board for the Western Territory (Southern Tier, Central New York, Finger Lakes and Western New York).

The Climate Smart Communities Coordinators initiative is supported by $3.1 million from the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Among the many environmental victories in the 2022-23 State Budget (leaves DEC website), Governor Hochul succeeded in increasing the EPF from $300 to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program's history. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects our water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.

Coordinators will: provide outreach and support for climate action engagement, as well as capacity building, education, and training; facilitate local climate mitigation planning and climate adaptation and resilience planning; support the implementation of local climate action and projects; convene climate and transportation listening sessions; and conduct evaluations. Visit DEC's website to learn more.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Local action to build more resilient, efficient, and sustainable communities is the way we will truly have a lasting impact in meeting the challenge of climate change and Governor Hochul's clean energy and climate goals. We applaud DEC's partnership with these Climate Smart Communities Coordinators to provide support for communities that want to make a difference, and we look forward to continuing to complement these initiatives with the efforts of our own Clean Energy Communities program to guarantee healthier places to live and work for all New Yorkers."

Sarah Oral, Cameron Engineering Associate for Civil Infrastructure and Planning, said, "Cameron Engineering is excited to continue to provide Climate Smart Communities (CSC) technical assistance to municipalities across Long Island. We look forward to building upon the impressive work that communities have already completed by providing enhanced services to help them achieve CSC certification, as well as to educate residents about sustainability and resiliency in our changing climate."

Todd M. Fabozzi, Capital District Regional Planning Commission Director of Sustainability said, "The Capital District Regional Planning Commission is pleased to partner with DEC to manage and implement the Climate Smart Communities Coordinators Program and applauds Governor Hochul and the State Legislature for supporting this critical initiative. The coordinators will provide key resources and work collaboratively to support local communities as they address the challenges of climate change and capitalize on the opportunities of a green economy."

Chris Carrick, Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board, Energy Program Manager said, "The Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board is excited to help advance the Climate Smart Communities program as Western New York territory director. Our experienced and talented team, made up of the Genesee Finger Lakes Planning Council, University of Buffalo Regional Institute, Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board, Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board, Southern Tier 8 Regional Board, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and Highland Planning, will be providing assistance to municipalities across Western New York in efforts related to climate mitigation and adaptation planning and implementation projects. These efforts will help make our communities more sustainable and support the State climate goals in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. We look forward to working closely with our team as well as the statewide coordinator network and DEC on this exciting and important effort."

Climate Smart Communities Program

The Climate Smart Communities Coordinators funding is part of New York State's multi-faceted Climate Smart Communities program (leaves DEC website), which is jointly sponsored by seven state agencies: DEC, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, New York Power Authority, Department of State, Department of Health, Department of Transportation, and Department of Public Service.

Started in 2009 by DEC, the program provides guidance to local governments to take locally driven climate action. The first step is to pass a formal pledge to mitigate and adapt to climate change. To date, 356 local governments have adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge, representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers.

The Climate Smart Communities certification program was launched in 2014 to document and celebrate the accomplishments of leading communities that go above and beyond the pledge. There are now 90 certified Climate Smart Communities in New York State, 82 at the bronze level and eight at the silver level.

DEC Climate Smart Communities Funding Programs

In 2016, DEC launched the Climate Smart Communities Grant program. This 50/50 matching grant program supports municipalities in completing certification actions and implementing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to extreme weather. In addition, DEC manages the Municipal Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. The ZEV program offers grants to install electric-vehicle charging stations for public use. Rebates toward the purchase (or lease) of electric vehicles for municipal fleets are also available. Visit DEC's website for more information about these funding programs.

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