In a blow to the Cuomo administration – and a big win for the environmental community – the EPA has rejected almost all of the controversial funding approved by the Environmental Facilities Corp. for projects related to building a new Tappan Zee Bridge, deeming them ineligble for funding from revolving loan fund intended to pay for clean water initiatives.
In June, the EFC’s board of directors voted to provide $511 million worth of loans to the state Thruway Authority for 12 projects related to the bridge, and the Thruway Authority quickly voted to accept the money. The EPA has determined that seven of those projects, worth $481.8 million, do not meet the revolving fund’s criteria, while the other five are eligible.
The EPA informed the DEC and the EFC (headed by former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll) of its decision in a letter sent today. The Cuomo administration has 30 days to appeal the ruling, otherwise it is final.
Among the projects rejected for funding: $66.7 million for a pedestrian walkway to be attached to the new bridge; $100,000 for relocation of a peregrine falcon nesting box on the Tappan Zee; and $70 million for riverbed dredging and “armoring.”
“In light of this determination, EPA is enclosing the FFY 2014 capitalization grant agreement, which is awarded, as modified, to NYSDEC,” wrote Joan Leary Matthews, director of the EPA Region 2 Clean Water Division.“EPA’s determination of ineligibility of seven Tappan Zee Bridge-related projects applies to funds from the capitalization grant as well as to the recycled funds in the CWSRF. Therefore, if New York State spends either capitalization grant funds or recycled funds toward projects that EPA has determined to be ineligible, EPA will disallow those costs.”This is a big problem for the Cuomo administration, which repeatedly insisted that this unusual EFC loan – a funding scheme that has never been tried before – was completely legal.
More and more, Andrew Cuomo is learning he is not above the rules.
The US attorney is investigating him for meddling in the Moreland Commission and has publicly warned him over witness tampering.
Last week, Democrats gave him the lowest victory totals in a contested Democratic Primary in New York State ever.
And now the EPA has hit him for trying to divert funds to the Tappan Zee Bridge project that shouldn't be going there.
Just wait until voters find out that Cuomo's going to have to raise tolls on bridges, tunnels and roadways across the state to pay for his Tappan Zee Bridge boondoggle.
I'd bet a month's worth of Tappan Zee Bridge tolls that he'll learn another lesson in rule-breaking.