OLIVEBRIDGE – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan last Thursday released his Green New Deal plan for Ulster County. Joined by environmental leaders from throughout the Hudson Valley, the report consisting of over 30 goals and targets makes Ulster County the first County in New York State and among the first in the nation to release a comprehensive Green New Deal plan.
“As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, laying the foundations for a green, equitable economy is one of the most critical steps we can take to rebuild, realign, and reinvigorate our communities,” said County Executive Pat Ryan. “A Green New Deal allows us to stabilize our climate, transition to clean energy and protect and regenerate our natural resources. All while doing the work to undo generations of economic and environmental injustice and create opportunity for everyone.”
The report lays out an ambitious agenda over three critical areas to spur transformation across the Ulster County community. Each section is broken down by time frame into immediate efforts that will be launched this year, aggressive interim targets for 2025, and long term transformative goals to reach by 2040.
The “Accelerating the Transition to Clean Energy” section calls for setting new high efficiency and standards for new buildings, retrofitting and weatherizing 1,000 Ulster County homes per year by 2025, and greening 20% of Ulster County’s vehicle fleet in the next five years. The “Build the Equitable Green Economy” section builds on the success of the Ulster County Green Careers Academy launched by County Executive Ryan in 2019 by combining low-income home weatherization efforts with job training opportunities, piloting green careers education in middle and high schools, and working to make the Hudson Valley a center for green economy innovation. The final section, “Conserve our Natural Resources and Build Resilience,” looks to assess all County roadways for storm resilience, continue Ulster County’s efforts in redeveloping foreclosed brownfields, and work to ensure that all Ulster County farmers utilize climate smart practices.
“Beyond confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, counties are also battling the existential challenge of a changing climate. Ulster County is a leader in that fight.” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “Now they are taking aggressive climate action by adopting a Green New Deal plan. Ulster County demonstrates the important role local governments can play in preparing for and mitigating climate change by taking actions that protect the environment, boost the economy, and make our state more resilient. We applaud County Executive Patrick Ryan for facilitating an equitable transition to the green energy economy and for becoming the first county in New York State to implement a Green New Deal for their community.”
“I am grateful to the leadership exemplified by Executive Ryan in stepping forward to confront the climate emergency,” said Tim Guinee, Climate Reality Project. “The sacred obligation of our elected officials is the protection of the health and well-being of their constituents. There is no greater threat to those concerns than the climate-crisis. I look forward to seeing Executive Ryan and the Ulster County Legislature rise bravely to the obligation of their offices by fulfilling the panoply of solutions promised in this ‘green’ package.”
“We applaud the leadership of County Executive Pat Ryan and his team in creating a package of programs that will help Ulster County lead the way as we transition NY’s economy to clean energy and transportation,” said Betta Broad, director of New Yorkers for Clean Power. “It’s especially exciting to see the commitment to creating green jobs here in our county and working collaboratively with community non-profits, SUNY Ulster, and employers to ensure successful training and job placement for young people and other job seekers.”
“The Office of Employment and Training housed in the Ulster County Career Center and the Green Careers Coalition are committed to supporting Ulster County residents access efficient hands-on experiences and instructional training leading to green collar job opportunities, as well as support businesses in the green sector to connect with high quality job candidates,” said Tomasine Oliphant, Director, Ulster County Office of Employment & Training.
Last week, County Executive Ryan signed an Executive Order that directs a prevailing wage requirement or a Project Labor Agreement for all County-run renewable energy projects. Through key investments in the 2021 Executive Budget, Ulster County is ahead of schedule in achieving the goal set by County Executive Ryan as his first act on taking office of committing Ulster County to use 100% renewable electricity by 2030. In his 2020 Executive Budget, County Executive Ryan unveiled the Ulster County Green Careers Academy, a new eight-week training program, in partnership with SUNY Ulster, that delivers the skills and expertise necessary to begin careers in the expanding clean technology industry.