No Earth Day Celebration at the State Capitol

Albany, NY – Earth Day celebrations will not be taking place at the New York State
Capitol. Events originally slated for Wednesday were cancelled by
Governor Paterson. Paterson told environmental groups that he's sorry
he's had to close parks, and make other unpopular budget decisions,
but he says the state is out of money.


Governor Paterson has authorized only bare bones spending since
lawmakers missed the April 1 budget deadline. He's held back a
planned pay raise for state workers, delayed construction projects,
and curtailed the state's Earth Day events. They were to have
included programs on bicycle commuting, recycling, and tree planting.
Paterson, in a speech to environmental groups to commemorate Earth
Day, apologized for the cancellations. He also said it pained him to
raid the state's environmental protection fund, put off key land
preservation purchases, and close down 55 parks and historic sites.
But he told the groups he has no choice.


"I recognize the frustration and the outrage you feel at some of the
decisions that I've had to make," said Paterson. "They were made to
save our state from going into bankruptcy".


Advocacy groups say the governor is taking the wrong tact, and that
the environment needs to be protected in both good and bad economic
times.


"The governor needs to recognize that the constituents of the state
really want to see progress made on issues like climate change, they
do not want to see the state parks shuttered and they insist that our
drinking water supplies be protected and monitored by state
agencies," said Rob Moore, with Environmental Advocates.


Moore says the governor has been starving those agencies, and that
staffing is at a 25 year low.


The Paterson Administration did go ahead with one Earth Day activity
as planned. The Department of Environmental Conservation collected
unused pharmaceuticals, saying that throwing away or flushing the
pills could harm drinking water, and that they would dispose of them
properly.