New York State’s Green History: From the 1970s to Now

by | Apr 20, 2023

According to the DEC, Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970. This national holiday has led to a variety of acts that keep us and our environment safe, including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Here are some ways New York State (NYS) has worked towards a healthier environment.


Chemical Cleanup to Protect Human Health

New York is consistently ahead when it comes to protecting its citizens from toxic chemicals. In the 1970s, NYS banned the use of lead paint in schools and homes, as well as the pesticide known as DDT, before federal mandates banned their uses. They also banned the use of phosphorous in all cleaning products in 1973, as the chemical led to high levels of aquatic growth and unhealthy, green waters.

In 1994, an agreement between the State and Occidental Chemical Corp (Occidental) was one of the largest settlements related to natural resource damages at the time. Occidental had damaged the Love Canal, a development in Niagara Falls, a fishery in Lake Ontario, and they had to pay $120 million to clean and restore the fishery.


Species Protection Plans

New York has been assisting in bald eagle restoration efforts since 1976. During this year, there was only one pair of nesting bald eagles in the State. As of 2017, there are 323 pairs.

Also during the 1970s, the State has worked with Vermont and Quebec to help restore trout and salmon fisheries to keep these industries afloat. NYS has committed to protecting unique and sensitive lands with Open Space Plans, further protecting species by protecting the habitats they live in.


Grant Funding for Greener Jobs

Grant funding has always been a part of New York’s green infrastructure. In 1972, the State began allocating billions of dollars through the DEC’s Construction Grants Program to build sewage treatments that would reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into lakes, rivers, streams, and other aquatic resources.

The Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act in 1996 led to the allocation of $1.75 billion towards the funding of environmental projects relating to clean water, clean air, dam safety, and a wide variety of other topics. The latest act, the Environmental Bond Act, was passed in 2022 and will lead to the allocation of $4.2 billion to fund environmental resiliency, climate change mitigation, and green job creation in communities throughout New York.

Interested in working towards a greener future? Walden is currently hiring! Visit our careers page or give us a call at 516-271-1948 to learn more.

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