November 2017 Business Newsletter
Clean Power Plan Dismantled by E.P.A.
 
The Environmental Protection Agency announced on October 10 that Scott Pruitt, the chief of the agency, had signed a measure to repeal President Barack Obama's signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants known as the "Clean Power Plan."

The Clean Power Plan was first proposed by the E.P.A. in 2014, with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electrical power generation by 32 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels. The plan was focused on reducing emissions from coal-burning power plants, as well as increasing the use of renewable energy and energy conservation. The plan had yet to be fully implemented at the time it was dismantled.

An E.P.A. statement said that the dismantling of the plan will help to "facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with the development of those resources."

Governor Cuomo released a statement saying, "The Trump Administration's move to dismantle the Clean Power Plan is a reckless decision that gives power plant operators free reign to do what they will without any concern for our climate. It rolls back the progress we have made to reduce carbon emissions and puts industry interests ahead of our ability to reduce damaging emissions. Climate change is a profound threat to our planet, and it cannot be wished away by denial."

"There is no denial here in New York. While the Trump Administration takes a back a seat to the rest of the world, New York is on track to meet our ambitious target of achieving 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030, and we will continue to lead the fight to meet the standards set forth in both the Paris Accord and the Clean Power Plan."

Mr. Pruitt's proposal for repeal will now have to go through a formal public-comment period before being finalized, a process that could take months. Mr. Pruitt will also ask the public for comment on what a replacement rule should look like, but the E.P.A. has not offered a timeline.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman plans to sue the E.P.A. once the repeal is finalized. In a statement, Mr. Schneiderman said, "Fuel-burning power plants are one of our nation's largest sources of climate change pollution, and common-sense science - and the law - dictate that E.P.A. take action to cut these emissions," "I will use every available legal tool to fight their dangerous agenda."

Vital Water Infrastructure Improvements Coming to Southern Tier
 
The Southern Tier is set to receive $23 million in grants to support 12 essential drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects. These grants are part of a $255 million statewide investment, funded through the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, as well as the new Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grants Program.

Under the landmark $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, announced by Governor Cuomo in April, these grants are part of $255 million in funding available for municipalities statewide to support critical water quality infrastructure projects. The Act also made $30 million available for the new Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grants Program, which provides grant funds for two or more municipalities sharing water quality infrastructure.

In the Southern Tier, $23 million in grant funds will leverage $71 million in total costs and provide nearly $43 million in taxpayer savings. This investment is also projected to create 1,160 jobs across the region. Since 2015, inclusive of this latest round of funding, communities in the Southern Tier have received a total of $57 million in WIIA grant and IMG funds supporting $348 million in total project costs.

The projects announced include upgrades and replacements for drinking water systems, filtration plants and water mains, as well as the construction or enhancement of wastewater treatment plants, pump stations, and sewer systems.

In addition to grants, EFC provides interest-free and low-interest loans to communities further enhancing the taxpayer savings related to the development of these projects. The grants announced are expected to be supplemented with over $48 million in these low-cost loans.

Winners of the Western New York Smart Growth Community Fund Announced
 
Four Western New York communities have been selected to receive up to $10 million in funding from the Buffalo Billion II initiative. The City of Dunkirk, City of North Tonawanda, City of Lackawanna and Village of Gowanda are recipients of Smart Growth Community Funds for projects that utilize existing infrastructure to support placemaking, walkable communities and sustainable development.

Following the example of successful locations such as Brooklyn, NY, Roanoke, VA, and Bend, OR - the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council is embracing growth and downtown redevelopment as core economic goals in its Strategy for Prosperity. Businesses are increasingly locating in or near vibrant, walkable downtowns built on the principles of smart growth because that's where the millennial workforce wants to live, work, and raise a family. Investments in existing downtowns also have been found to reduce local infrastructure and municipal service costs, thus helping to ease fiscal difficulties.

The WNYREDC made recommendations for Dunkirk, North Tonawanda, Lackawanna and Gowanda to receive a portion of the available Smart Growth Community funding. Following approval of these nominations, Empire State Development staff made a visit to each of the four recommended communities to discuss their proposed project list and to better understand the locations and readiness of each project. The visit report was presented at the WNYREDC meeting in August and received approval from the committee to proceed with the awards.

Four Western New York communities were chosen based on applications and interviews that closely aligned with and met criteria of the Smart Growth Community Funds. The remaining $10 million of the fund will be awarded in future smart growth rounds.

Recipients of the Western New York Smart Growth Community Fund are included with funding recommended by the Western New York REDC below: City of Dunkirk: Up to $2.5 million

City of North Tonawanda: Up to $2.5 million

City of Lackawanna: Up to $2.5 million

Village of Gowanda: Up to $2.5 million

The Smart Growth Community Fund follows two rounds of the Better Buffalo Fund, which provided funding from the Buffalo Billion for the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative and Transit-Oriented Development. Over the past two years, the Better Buffalo Fund has provided over $20 million in support for projects that create compact, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods and ensure that all residents have access to the city's emerging job centers in the area.

Investments in historic preservation tax credits since the program was expanded in 2013 have also resulted in more than $3 billion in investments from both the state and federal tax credit. In Western New York alone, 88 projects are yielding $532.2 million in qualified rehabilitation costs. That represents the largest number of projects in any region of the state and the largest dollar investment of any region excluding New York City.

Prepared by Eric W. Marriott

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