In Pursuit of Better Conservation for the Empire State: NYLCVEF year in review

Each Monday morning at The Moore Charitable Foundation, we sip a coffee and read the news round up from the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) to learn what’s really going on in the Empire State. NYLCV is the only statewide environmental organization in New York that fights for clean water, clean air, renewable energy and open space through political action.

In 1993, this non-partisan, pragmatic and effective group realized the public-at-large needed a greater understanding of environmental issues and founded the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYCLVEF). And as a result, they’ve been educating, engaging and empowering New Yorkers – including us – to be effective advocates on behalf of the environment, from clean energy and funding for parks, to solid waste and green buildings.

2016 has been a big year for the NYLCV Education Fund. They held two policy forums, three candidate forums, and two massive civic engagement campaigns. Here a few highlights that encapsulate their year:

Passing the Plastic Bag Bill. For two years NYLCVEF has written petitions, held rallies, and raised the volume about the issue of plastic bags polluting our streets, waterways, and landfills. In May, City Council finally passed the plastic bag bill, a huge win for the environmental community. Their work to empower New Yorkers with the tools to be civically engaged for the environment is more important than ever.

Taking Green Preservation to Affordable Housing. In February, NYLCVEF partnered with Enterprise Community Partners, Inc and NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service for a forum on Green Preservation of Multi-Family Affordable Housing. Panelists from state and city agencies for housing and environmental protection, as well as local advocates and utilities, discussed challenges, opportunities, and solutions to take green preservation to scale in New York City with an engaged audience.

Educating Buffalo about Green Infrastructure. Later in the year, they went up to the Buffalo History Museum to continue a successful policy forum series on green infrastructure. Top policymakers and advocates from the Buffalo Sewer Authority, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, and other local organizations explored the benefits of green infrastructure and worked to answer important questions about sustainable economic growth and the future of green infrastructure in the Buffalo Niagara Region.

Informing the Public About Their Political Choices. NYLCV they held three nonpartisan Environmental Candidate Forums in 2016. In April, NYLCVEF joined with West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT) for Environmental Justice for a 13th Congressional District Candidate Forum in West Harlem.

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WE ACT is a Northern Manhattan community-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.

Before the primaries for the state legislature, they held a Democratic candidate forum in Assembly District 65. All 6 candidates attended, and the room was packed. Our partners from the Lower East Side Ecology Center, New Yorkers for Parks, Transportation Alternatives and Waterfront Alliance, as well as audience members, asked candidates about issues ranging from resiliency to air quality.

Finally, in October, they went out to New York’s Congressional District 1 on Long Island and partnered with Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment, Defend H2O, and Save the Sound to hear from Lee Zeldin and Anna Throne-Holst. Both candidates presented their ideas for preserving the environment on Long Island and working with congressional leaders to protect clean water and open space and promote renewable energy.

What’s up for 2017? So far, NYLCV Education Fund will hold forums on green infrastructure in the capital region and in Central New York. And local elections in Westchester County, New York City, and Nassau County will be the key to elevating environmental politics in 2017.

Along with Louis Bacon and The Moore Charitable Foundation, I want to thank the NYLCV Education Fund for all they do to protect the natural resources and places of New York State for all people, and for advancing understanding and policies about green infrastructure across the state. I would encourage all New York readers to sign up for their newsletter, plan to attend an event, sign a petition, or consider a year end donation to ensure and amplify the success of this important group. NYCLV – we look forward to standing with you in 2017.

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