Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program for residents in counties affected by Hurricane Irene is available starting today. Counties covered by the program include Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, and Westchester. These counties will accept Disaster Food Stamp benefit applications for at least seven days beginning today.
The Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program for residents in counties affected by Tropical Storm Lee is available starting Friday, September 23, in Broome, Delaware, Schenectady and Tioga counties, and on Monday, September 26, in Chenango and Otsego counties.
"The devastation caused by these storms has displaced many families from their homes and jobs, leaving them without food or the means to purchase food," said Cuomo.
The federal government oversees the Food Stamp Program, which is operated in New York State by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin said, "Because of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee even more New Yorkers are struggling to provide meals for their families. This Disaster Food Stamp Program will help lift some of the burden of those who are eligible. It is important that families act quickly to seek this help, as it is only available for a limited time. By contacting their local department of social services, people can find the location nearest them where they can apply."
Disaster food stamp benefits can be made available when the number of people applying for food stamp benefits increases rapidly and significantly as a result of an emergency or disaster. Under the Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program, standard eligibility criteria are relaxed so that those who may not normally qualify for food stamps can receive help to purchase food. Verification rules are also eased, reducing administrative burdens as both local agencies and applicants may not have access to records normally used for verification in the aftermath of a disaster.
To qualify for disaster food stamp benefits, applicants: Must have lived in one of the designated counties at the time of the disaster. (Applicants may be eligible if they are temporarily living outside of the disaster area but within the State at the time of the disaster); must plan on purchasing food during the month of September; must have experienced at least one of the following: loss of food or food stamp benefits; damage to, or the destruction of, the household’s home or self-employment business; disaster-related expenses not expected to be reimbursed during the month of September (e.g. home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, etc.); loss or inaccessibility of income including reduction or termination of income, or a delay in receipt of income for half a month; inaccessible liquid resources (e.g. banks are closed due to the disaster).
To find out where to apply for disaster food stamp benefits, call 1-800-342-3009, or contact your local department of social services. A list of county social services districts can be found at: http://otda.ny.gov/
The governor also announced that certain regulations will be temporarily suspended to allow additional financial assistance for the rebuilding of rural communities to be approved and distributed as quickly as possible.
"Although many New York farms were destroyed during the recent storms, we are moving quickly to distribute recovery funds so the rebuilding process can begin as soon as possible," Governor Cuomo said.
"Before the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee began, we had already lost nearly 140,000 acres of farmland from Hurricane Irene. I have visited hard-hit farming areas together with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and N.Y. Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Aubertine and we have seen the destruction firsthand. This aid will provide much-needed assistance to agricultural communities so farmers can begin to rebuild."
Darrel Aubertine, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, said, "The recent storms did tremendous damage to some of our best farmland. Governor Cuomo created the Agriculture and Community Recovery Fund to speed the rebuilding process in our farming sector. This aid will allow work to begin in short-order to help our farmers recover from this catastrophe."
The ACRF was announced by Cuomo on September 3rd and will provide at least $15 million to rebuild communities and the agricultural industry in hard-hit areas. The funds are from the ACRF Conservation Program, which is designed to help farms recover, stabilize soils and stream banks, restore water control structures, and improve and protect water quality.
Today's distribution of aid includes:
Albany County Soil & Water District – $30,250
Projects: Replacement of alternative water supply and reconstruction of an access road, fencing, and gravel deposition removal.
Broome County Soil & Water District - $20,000
Projects: Fence repair, stream bank stabilization, replacement of alternative water supply, and debris removal from cropland.
Chenango County Soil & Water District - $37,564
Projects: Debris removal and streambank stabilization.
Clinton County Soil & Water District – $11,700
Projects: Replace failed culverts and access road repair.
Columbia County Soil & Water District – $44,000
Projects: Access road, stream crossing, fencing repair, debris removal from crop fields, and stream bank stabilization.
Delaware County Soil & Water District - $101,214
Projects: Debris removal, milk house waste treatment system replacement, fencing, access road replacement and repair, stream bank stabilization.
Dutchess County Soil & Water District – $17,403
Projects: Debris removal from pastures, access road repair, fence repair, downed tree removal, and vegetative buffer planting.
Greene County Soil & Water District - $174,650
Projects: Debris removal, fence repair, and grassed waterway repair.
Essex County Soil & Water District – $45,460
Projects: Stream channel restoration, debris removal, fence repair, and access road and culvert repair.
Montgomery County Soil & Water District – $153,250
Projects: Gravel and debris removal from cropland, stream bank stabilization, and vegetative buffer plantings.
Oneida County Soil & Water District – $18,995
Projects: Field restoration, diversion ditch, and obstruction removal
Orange County Soil & Water District - $319,620
Projects: Access road repair and replacement, crop field restoration, debris removal, animal laneway repair, water control structure repair, water supply, and fencing repair.
Otsego County Soil & Water District – $167,100
Projects: Barnyard water management, stream bank stabilization, debris removal, and critical area seeding.
Rensselaer County Soil & Water District – $184,060
Projects: Fence replacement and repair, stream bank stabilization, debris removal, and access road repair.
Saratoga County Soil & Water District – $30,000
Projects: Replace main access road and large culvert crossing.
Schenectady County Soil & Water District - $26,000
Projects: Debris removal, erosion control practices, stream crossing repair, and streambank stabilization.
Schoharie County Soil & Water District – $556,090
Projects: Debris removal, including gravel piles, whole trees, buildings, and fuel and propane tanks in crop fields; milk house waste treatment system replacement; fencing; access road replacement and repair stream bank stabilization; cover cropping; field repair; and water control structure repair.
Suffolk County Soil & Water District – $25,000
Project: Repair to water control structures to keep Hallock’s Bay from flooding farm fields.
Sullivan County Soil & Water District - $3,300
Projects: Debris removal and streambank stabilization.
Tioga County Soil & Water District - $219,920
Projects: Debris and obstruction removal, vegetative buffer repair, streambank stabilization, manure storage evaluation, pump replacement, and fence repair.
Ulster County Soil & Water District – $190,252
Projects: Stream crossing for equipment repair, critical area seeding, irrigation system repair, fencing, orchard repair, debris removal, access road repair, and cover cropping.
Washington County Soil & Water District – $60,415
Projects: Streambank stabilization, crop field restoration, alternative water supply repair, debris removal, and riparian buffer replacement.
Expedited Financial Assistance to Farms
The additional steps announced by Governor Cuomo today will temporarily remove a number of bureaucratic barriers that would impede the delivery of much-needed financial assistance to New York farming communities.
The measures will: Allow the Department of Agriculture and Markets to expedite the authorization process for emergency contracts to Soil and Water Conservation Districts; allow for expedited allocation of appropriations from the Upstate Agricultural Economic Development Fund to hard-hit areas; provide measures to ensure the expedited approval of contracts or purchases directed toward assisting farming areas affected by Hurricane Irene, avoiding the time-consuming standard procurement process; and waive the waiting period to allow expedited delivery of Community Development Block Grant funds
About the ACRF Conservation Program
The Conservation Program is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in consultation with the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee. Applications for funding will be accepted from County Soil and Water Conservation Districts within the eligible counties. Eligible counties are those that received a disaster designation for Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
The Soil and Water Districts will determine land eligibility based on site inspections of damage. For land to be eligible, the Tropical Storms must have created a new conservation problem that, if left untreated, would: degrade the state’s natural resources; impact public drinking water supplies; present ongoing pollution risks to surface and groundwater; pose threats to production facilities; impair farm safety; affect the land’s productive capacity; or present challenges to farm production that would be too costly to implement without state assistance.
Eligible emergency conservation practices include, but are not limited to: debris removal; restoring fences and conservation structures; crop removal; land shaping and grading; and installation of vegetative practice, including cover crop. Eligible costs include: architectural and/or engineering services; consultant services; construction; and other direct expenses related to implementation.
Project sponsors within eligible counties may submit applications on a weekly basis. Applications will be taken until all available funds are awarded.
Project selection will be based on identified need and degree of loss and with consideration of the available funding for eligible counties. Recovery funds requested will be reviewed and approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. The Commissioner may consult with the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, the agency that oversees policy and programs for New York’s 58 County Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The website will give New Yorkers unprecedented access to the workings of the executive branch as well as provide new and easy ways to participate in the ongoing activities of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the cabinet, and top officials in the executive chamber.
The website will feature a new online town hall where the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and top commissioners and executive officials will participate in weekly online chats where they will take questions directly from New Yorkers. The Governor will hold the first chat this Saturday. To visit CitizensConnects go to http://www.citizenconnects.com
The website will also be a portal for New Yorkers to participate in upcoming state events and activities, use social media to talk and comment on the workings of state government, and track future and past travel for the Governor and the executive branch.
"Democracy works when the voice of the people rings strong and citizens participate in government," Governor Cuomo said.
"This will be a ‘Town Hall’ in every sense. It will be an open forum for New Yorkers to interact and participate in their government; it will be a place New Yorkers can visit to communicate with their leaders and sign up for community activities; and it will allow New Yorkers to have a direct window into the workings of their government. This world is changing. New technology allows us new opportunities to communicate with the people of the state. Traditional forms of communication and information have given way to electronics. It’s time government gets up to date."
Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has worked to open state government and make it more accessible to all New Yorkers. CitizenConnects builds on those efforts and empowers citizens with the information they need to actively participate in their state government. On his first day in office, Governor Cuomo opened up the second floor -- where the Governor and his top staff have their offices -- to the public after it was closed off for more than a decade.
The Governor then for the first time invited the public to attend the State of the State address and traveled to communities across the state to lay out his agenda for the people. During the budget and legislative process, the Governor held dozens of public forums and presentations in every region of the state, encouraging the public to support his agenda for reform and to make government work for the people once again.
As Attorney General, Governor Cuomo launched “Project Sunlight,” the state’s first-ever online database of information related to campaign finance, lobbying activity, state spending, and state contracts.
CitizenConnects is another step in the Governor’s transformational efforts to bring government to New Yorkers. CitizenConnects will be an online Town Hall and a forum for New Yorkers to communicate with his administration and their government. The website will provide unprecedented direct access to the activities of the Governor and state agencies.
On the website, New Yorkers will be able to: Participate in online town halls where New Yorkers can submit questions directly to government officials; Learn about and sign up to participate in upcoming state government events; follow the travel of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and top officials and commissioners; submit ideas and policy questions to the Governor; follow the executive branch with enhanced access on Facebook and Twitter; sign up to receive e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter updates; and access the Governor’s daily and future schedules
The site also features a calendar showing Governor Cuomo's daily public schedule, including a map showing upcoming events, as well as places the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have visited since taking office. This feature will help New Yorkers stay informed about the Governor and Lieutenant Governor's upcoming visits to their home towns.
Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government said, “I congratulate Governor Cuomo for taking government transparency to a new level. By providing information of importance to the public, even before anyone asks for it, the website will give New Yorkers the opportunity to know how their government serves them and offer their points of view. This is a groundbreaking effort in bringing government closer to the people.”
"The 'town hall' web page offers a user friendly way for two-way communication between New Yorkers and the governor and his staff. Particularly at a time filled with so many challenges, the public wants to keep tabs on what public officials are up to. Through this portal the governor can boost transparency of his activities and contribute to the public's trust in government, " stated Russ Haven, Executive Director of the New York State Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).
Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union, noted, "This new public access resource tool promises to bring a new level of transparency and knowledge about how the Governor is working for the people of New York.”
Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said, "The internet can make it easier than ever before to increase transparency and accountability in government. We’re happy to see Governor Cuomo taking this new step to further open the governor’s office to the public."
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 2401 – Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011
(Rep. Sullivan, R-OK, and 44 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2401, which would block two landmark public health regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and require the preparation of costly, unnecessary, and redundant reports. While the Administration strongly supports careful analysis of the economic effects of regulation, the approach taken in H.R. 2401 would slow or undermine important public health protections.
Since its enactment in 1970 and subsequent amendment in 1990, both times with strong bipartisan support, the CAA has improved the Nation's air quality and protected the health of this country’s citizens. Forty years of success have demonstrated that strong environmental protections and strong economic growth go hand in hand. H.R. 2401 would undermine this progress by blocking EPA's ability to move forward with two long overdue CAA rules – the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule – to reduce harmful air pollution that threatens public health, especially the health of the most vulnerable populations, including children and seniors.
Each year, these rules would avoid tens of thousands of premature deaths, prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and thousands of hospital visits for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and alleviate hundreds of thousands of childhood asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. EPA estimates that these two rules alone will yield hundreds of billions of dollars in net benefits each year. H.R. 2401 would block these rules and indefinitely delay these public health and economic benefits.
If the President is presented with H.R. 2401, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.