It’s Friday, November 11, and New York state voters want to fund climate and environmental initiatives.

Voters in New York state have approved a sweeping ballot measure to mitigate climate change and protect the state’s natural resources.

The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act — the state’s first bond act since the ‘90s — passed handily on Tuesday, garnering the support of some 60 percent of Empire State voters. The act will allow the state to borrow up to $4.2 billion for environmental conservation and improvement projects, as well as a number of efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

The act’s easy victory is “a testament to the organizing strength” of the more than 300 environmental groups, unions, and businesses that supported it, Jeremy Cherson, senior manager of government affairs for the nonprofit Riverkeeper, told me.

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Among the wide range of projects that the act is set to fund are more solar arrays and wind turbines, zero-emission school buses, and urban tree planting. The act also pledges to devote at least $1.1 billion to reducing flood risks, $650 million for land conservation and fish hatcheries, and another $650 million for a variety of projects related to wastewater and septic infrastructure and agricultural runoff.

At least 35 percent of the bond revenue is required to benefit “disadvantaged communities” — those that are economically or socially marginalized, vulnerable to pollution, or prone to climate-related disasters.

Although the money raised will only provide a fraction of the funding needed to upgrade New York’s infrastructure and prepare it for climate change, experts and environmental advocates have hailed it as a “historic” step in the right direction. It’s the largest environmental bond act in New York state history and the first to go before state voters in more than a quarter of a century.

Cherson noted that the bond act could unlock even more federal funding by leveraging Congress’s two recent climate and infrastructure laws — last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in August. One project he’s particularly excited about: the restoration of Schodack Island in upstate New York, a biodiverse nature area that’s been degraded by shipping.

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