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Environmental groups blast Paterson's raid on funds

Sheehan estimates that since 2003, the state has siphoned $500 million from the Environmental Protection Fund. And in every instance, the money was used for non-environmental purposes.

"Why this has become his favorite piggy bank to smash and take all the money from is beyond us, other than the environmental community has not stood up and spoken out against it," he said. "And the folks who are also benefiting on the local level haven't expressed their disappointment with the state at having essentially reneged on their word when the passed the budget back on April 1."

Legislators are expected to hold statewide public hearings this week to discuss Paterson's proposed cuts. Sheehan hopes that hearings will be slated in the Adirondacks so residents can speak out against the cuts.

In many cases, the funds would have helped municipalities pay for mandated landfill closures and the creation of recycling centers.

Sheehan says it's the state's responsibility to help fund mandated projects for towns and villages that don't have the excess revenue to afford them otherwise.

"Frankly, the state's obligation is to help the smaller, less wealthy communities deal with mandates like this," Sheehan said. "We're very much in favor of seeing this money spent in the Adirondacks because it not only helps the environment, but it takes pressure off local governments to come up with money for projects that are very unaffordable in communities of two and three thousand people."

Before Paterson's raid of environmental protection funds, the governor also announced mid-year budget reductions throughout the state. The Adirondack Park Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation both suffered setbacks due to those cuts.

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