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July 8, 2013

Cleaner, Greener funding approved

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The Daily Star

---- — Grant funding has been approved for the regional sustainability plan developed by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, according to a media release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Cuomo recently announced $30 million in the first round of funding for the implementation of regional sustainability plans throughout the state, including the Southern Tier plan. The plans were developed under the governor’s $100 million Cleaner, Greener Communities program, which seeks to invest in smart growth planning and sustainability.

The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, which serves eight counties including Chenango and Delaware, is one of 10 councils created by the governor to streamline economic development efforts statewide. 

In a media release about the grants, Cuomo said the $30 million is designed to “put each region’s sustainability plans to action.”

A consortium of dozens of municipal leaders and organizations completed the plan, which estimates that, if recommended actions are fully implemented, the Southern Tier can achieve a 35 percent reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions within 20 years. The coalition was composed of Tompkins County, the Southern Tier East Regional Planning and Development Board, and the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board. Tompkins County led the planning process for the region.

Highlights and goals include: 

· Reduce residential and commercial energy consumption by 40 percent, and industrial energy consumption by 30 percent;

· Transition to renewable and lower greenhouse gas-emitting sources of energy; 

· Increase housing options, services and transportation alternatives throughout the region, including in rural communities;

· Increase the percentage of residents living in cities and villages from 38 percent to 45 percent, thus reducing overall energy demand;

·Increase total cash receipts from farm sales from $338 million to $497 million through value-added products, biomass and other farm-based renewable energy, food production for local markets, and culinary and agri-tourism programs.

The complete plan is available at www.cleanergreenersoutherntier.org.

Erik Miller, director of the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board, said, “The Cleaner, Greener Southern Tier Sustainability Plan sets the path for multicounty sustainable economic development, affordable living, natural resource protection and land use projects within our eight-county region. A diverse group of stakeholders diligently prepared this plan, ensuring future implementation would not only be effective at reducing greenhouse gasses but be relevant to our region specifically.”

Donna Jones, Chenango County planning director, said, “As the Regional Cleaner, Greener Sustainability plans become finalized across our state, their importance hinges on local involvement and project implementation. Appropriate energy sourcing, opportunity and efficiencies are all key.”

For further information on the Southern Tier sustainability growth planning process, please contact Ed Marx, Tompkins County planning commissioner, at emarx@tompkins-co.org; Marcia Weber, executive director of the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board, at weber@stny.rr.com; or Erik Miller at director.stny@gmail.com.