Legislative Commission on
Toxic Substances
and
Hazardous Wastes

4 Empire State Plaza, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-3711

Spring 2002 • NEWS FROM ASSEMBLYMEMBER DAVID KOON • Volume I
CHAIR, LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION ON TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND HAZARD0US WASTES


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Dear Colleagues and Friends:

The Commission had an interesting and challenging year in 2001. We continued our important work on traditional issues such as:

  • Establishing pollution prevention and environmental compliance initiatives to assist small businesses;
  • Closing the loophole that permits open burning of household garbage in certain municipalities;
  • Expanding initiatives to protect childrenís environmental health and safety in schools and daycare centers;
  • Expanding breast cancer research and education and the role of persons diagnosed with breast cancer in these decisions; and
  • Providing funding for Superfund and remediation of brownfields.

This year we are proposing an extensive legislative package to address environmental and public health problems in a variety of sectors. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedy, we have developed legislation to protect against terrorist acts involving the transport of hazardous materials in the State. We have also proposed legislation to require the tracking of environmental and health data by state agencies that will be evaluated to determine the relationship of chronic diseases and known environmental hazards. We are investigating opportunities to map incidences of cancers and other non-cancer diseases in relation to known environmental hazards such as Superfund and brownfields sites, hazardous materials spills, hazardous air emissions, groundwater and surface contamination, and other environmental insults.

Building on our Healthy Schools initiatives, we have introduced a bill to eliminate the use of wood pressure-treated with chromated copper arsenate for playground equipment; and another bill to prohibit the use of carpeting in new school construction or renovation.

Our "Healthy Hospitals" package includes bills to require integrated pest management and least toxic pesticide use in hospitals; mandate that the State Department of Health review construction or remodeling plans for hospitals with regard to proximity to environmental hazards; encourage ďgreen procurementí for hospitals; and establish a patient/staff right to information about hazardous materials in hospitals. I have also introduced a bill that would eliminate the sale of mercury fever thermometers to reduce exposure to this toxic metal.

During this yearís Budget development, the Commission is focusing on pesticide regulatory reform, Superfund refinancing, enhancing pollution prevention activities and school improvements as discussed in the Newsletter Budget article. We expect to hold a number of roundtables and public forums during 2002 and encourage the public to attend these events. I will be holding a roundtable on Innovative ComplianceStrategies in May at Witech in Rochester.

I encourage my colleagues and our readers to communicate with us on matters of environmental, public health, energy policy and other areas of concern to them.

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IN THIS ISSUE
Breast Cancer Advocacy Day
Burn Barrels
Electronics Recycling
Environmental Health Tracking
Environmental Meeting
Environmental Terrorism
Governorís Budget
Governorís Proposed Pesticide Fee Increases
Ground Zero Hearing
Legislative Report
P2/Small Business Meeting

NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTORS
Marilyn M. DuBois
Elizabeth Meer
Richard D. Morse
Echo Cartwright

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THE ASSEMBLY INVESTIGATES ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURES AT
"GROUND ZERO"

fire The devastating attacks at the World Trade Center on September 11th have left not only emotional scars on the victims and their families and our nation, but have left the potential for serious long-term health impacts on the thousands of selfless individuals who responded to the crisis. As the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts have progressed, issues regarding worker safety as well as contaminant exposure to workers and residents of lower Manhattan have come to the forefront. Concerns have been raised over the disclosure of information and testing methods used at the Ground Zero area, including allowing residents to reenter their homes without adequate cleaning methods or training provided. Rescue workers have been exposed to high levels of hazardous materials including asbestos, benzene, dioxins, mercury and PCBs. Many of these workers were firefighters who may be forced to retire due to health related impacts from exposure.

Acting on this public concern, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver convened a public hearing in November to examine the public health and environmental impacts of the World Trade Center collapse. Witnesses included panels of elected officials, community groups, government agencies and representatives from environmental, health and labor organizations. On February 11th, the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held an additional public hearing in Lower Manhattan on air quality issues at Ground Zero and the surrounding area. Assemblymember Koon attended the hearing and provided written testimony before the Committee. The recurring themes at both hearings were the same: inadequacy of testing methods, particularly outside the perimeter of Ground Zero; need for better coordination of communication between the agencies conducting the testing and releasing information; extensive health concerns for workers on-site at Ground Zero; and inadequate action taken to protect the public from the pollutants released by the 11 week-long fire. The Speaker convened a follow-up hearing on April 12th in New York City. The Commission continues to monitor developments at Ground Zero and is working with governmental agencies overseeing the cleanup. Complete copies of Assemblymember Koonís testimony can be obtained by contacting the Commissionís Albany office or by going to the Assemblyís website and selecting "David Koon" under "Assemblymembers."


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PREVENTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL TERRORISM


poison Assemblymember Koon has introduced legislation (A9935 KOON, BRODSKY, GANNT, COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, SEDDIO, GALEF, DINOWITZ, DIAZ, et. al) that would reduce the potential for environmental terrorism in New York. The bill would prohibit individuals who have been convicted of terrorist acts, violent felonies or other serious crimes from transporting hazardous wastes and hazardous materials. Mandatory fingerprinting and criminal background checks would be required for all individuals who apply for permits to transport these materials in New York.

Permanent licensing disqualification of any individual ever convicted of a violent or other serious felony or terrorist act would result.

Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, federal officials disclosed they had individuals under investigation who had fraudulently applied for and obtained hazardous material transport permits. The illicit transporting of these materials raises obvious health and safety issues for our communities. Hundreds of products carried around the country are potentially deadly if released into the water or air. Government officials have acknowledged that the array of regulations which are currently in place governing the transport of these materials were not designed to prevent terrorist acts. While there is currently a system which monitors where these materials are transported, there is no criminal background check policy in place to ensure the credibility of individuals applying to transport these materials.

More than 100,000 "endorsements" to transport hazardous materials have been issued in New York State.


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STOP OPEN BURNING OF HOUSEHOLD GARBAGE!


Assemblymember David Koon has continued his efforts to finally close the loophole in Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations that allow the open burning of household garbage in towns of less than 20,000 population. Assemblymember Koonís bill (A 7202-A) once again passed the Assembly in 2002, as it has for the past several years. Koon has been working with Senate sponsor George Maziarz (S 3772-A) to convince the Senate to act on this important legislation.

Koon and Maziarz have written Senators highlighting several relevant issues. There are more than 850 towns in New York State of less than 20,000 population. Senators were provided with individual lists of the towns in their districts where open burning was legal. There are more than 3.5 million people in these towns who may potentially be exposed to dangerous emissions from burn barrels. Secondly, property damage insurance claims have been increasing due to damages caused by household garbage burning.

As our readers know, the composition of household waste has changed significantly - expanded volume of wastes produced by households and higher proportions of synthetic chemicals, particularly plastics from packaging, has increased risks of open burning. Incomplete combustion and low temperatures which are characteristic of burn barrels result in the formation of dioxins and furans. The 1998 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dioxin inventory estimates that backyard burning of garbage contributes percentage of the dioxin emissions nationally.

People located up to 1/2 mile away can be directly exposed to toxic pollutants from burn barrels. Children are particularly vulnerable because they eat, drink, breathe and absorb more toxins in proportion to their body weight. The primary exposure pathways from backyard burning of garbage are direct inhalation of volatile organics and particulates, inhalation of metals absorbed by plants, ingestion of contaminated soil by children, and ingestion of organochlorine compounds bioaccumulated in fatty tissues of animals. The acute or short-term impacts from burn barrel emissions include respiratory distress and breathing difficulties. The chronic or long-term impacts include increased risk of asthma, emphysema and cancer.

The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee recently reported the bill to the Senate floor. Now the Senate and Governor must act in order to stop this unhealthy practice.


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ASSEMBLYMEMBER KOON INTRODUCES ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH TRACKING SYSTEM LEGISLATION


photo Assemblymember Koon, Assembly colleagues and Environmental organization representatives at the Environmental Health Tracking Press Conference
Commission Chair Koon has introduced legislation (A10243, KOON, DINAPOLI, ENGLEBRIGHT, LOPEZ, SMITH, COLTON, SEDDIO, CYMBROWITZ, et al) to establish the Environmental Health Tracking System. The bill would create an on-going surveillance by the NYS Health Department of environmental exposures and diseases affecting New Yorkers. The legislation would also create a working group of technical experts in chronic environmental diseases to investigate approaches to tracking these diseases, using the Stateís many health and environmental databases currently available.

Furthermore, under the direction of Assemblymember Koon, the Commission is working on a pilot project to map environmental facilities and reported health incidents. The project will focus on specific geographic areas and will map reported cases of cancer and non-cancer health issues such as asthma, heart disease, neurological diseases, reproductive disorders and birth defects. Several recently released health studies strongly indicate a link between exposure to high levels of air pollution and other contaminants to reported health anomalies.

ASSEMBLYMEMBER KOON HOSTS MEETING OF ROCHESTER ENVIRONMENTALISTS

photo Assemblymember Koon and environmental organization representatives meet in Rochester
Last November, Assemblyman Koon met with representatives of eight environmental organizations in the Rochester area, including the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, the Citizensí Environmental Coalition, the Kandid Coalition, the Rochester Center for Environmental Information, the Rochester Green Party, Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Regional Action Group for the Environment, and the Sierra Club. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss environmental issues of particular concern in Western New York.

The meeting began with presentations on the Commissionís top legislative priorities, which include banning the open burning of solid waste, increasing the Stateís investment in pollution prevention, and ensuring safe and healthy schools for all children. The group supported these initiatives wholeheartedly and promised support for Assemblyman Koonís burn barrel bill (A.7202). Additional environmental and public health issues, including lead poisoning, pressure treated lumber, dioxin contamination, breast cancer research and education, and refinancing the State Superfund were discussed.

The Commission has worked on many of these topics and expects to work closely with these groups and others in the development of new legislation and passage of current bills.


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HELPING SMALL BUSINESSESSUCCEED THROUGH POLLUTION PREVENTION


photo Assemblymember David Koon has made helping small businesses flourish in New York State a priority for the Commission. One key to business success is having access to the most cost-effective and innovative means of achieving environmental compliance. Unfortunately, small businesses often lack the technical expertise, resources or funding they need to pursue the most efficient compliance options.

Reducing the use of pollutants at their sourceóduring the manufacturing process as compared to at the end of the pipeóis often the most efficient compliance option. Such reductions can be realized through the substitution of nontoxic or less toxic materials, the modification of equipment, the redesign of products and in-process recycling, to name a few options. These activities, commonly referred to as "pollution prevention," can both achieve dramatic reductions in pollution and increase productivity by lowering raw material costs, reducing liability and compliance costs, and decreasing the cost of chemical storage, transportation and disposal.

Source reduction and pollution prevention have become even more important following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Minimizing the amount of hazardous chemicals used, stored and transported reduces the risk of a major chemical accident due to human error or criminal intent.

New York State runs a number of programs to help companies with environmental compliance and pollution prevention, but Assemblyman Koon believes that more must be done. Last November, he convened a meeting with Rochester area small business representatives to discuss compliance issues. One of the clear messages coming out of the meeting was that small businesses need accessible information in plain English regarding compliance requirements and the best ways to meet them. They need a positive approach from government that focuses on helping them comply rather than shutting them down.

The companies emphasized that making one agency the gateway for all assistance programs would make access easier. In addition, it would be more effective for programs to reach out to companies rather than relying on them to make initial contact. Small companies simply lack the time and resources needed to research options and sort through the maze of available state programs. Moreover, many legitimate companies are afraid to ask for assistance, and "bad actors" are unlikely to do so.

As a result of this meeting, Assemblyman Koon is pursuing a number of action items. They include securing increased funding for existing assistance programs in this yearís budget, and working to create new programs that will provide direct, on-site technical assistance to companies, as well as research and development support. The Commission is planning to host a Roundtable on Innovative Source Reduction Technologies in the Rochester area in the near future. Area businesses are being asked for help in designing the event, which will include presentations by state and local agencies, and an opportunity for businesses to share their needs and concerns.

The Commission may replicate this event in other areas of the State.


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REMANUFACTURING/REUSING/RECYCLING ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT


photo Assemblymembers Koon and Colton and at the Rochester Roundtable on Electronic Equipment Recycling, Reuse and Remanufacturing.

THE PROBLEM

As discussed in our last newsletter, Commission Chair David Koon has been focusing on the issue of re-manufacturing, reuse and recycling of electronic equipment. The statistics on obsolete computers are overwhelming. As noted previously, todayís personal computers are outdated in about three years, and may be outdated in as little as two years by 2007. With obsolescence rates like these, more than 31 million computers across the country will be retired in the next year alone.

Millions of old and obsolete television sets will add to the mountains of electronic equipment that potentially will be discarded by consumers. An estimated 40 million households will switch to high definition television sets within the next several years.

Computers, televisions, copiers and other electronic equipment present the same management concerns: tons of bulky waste containing hazardous constituents, which present potential environmental problems if burned or buried. Carcinogenic flame-retardants, lead and other heavy metals, including cadmium, mercury and phosphorus, are found in this equipment. Since the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) classifies computers as hazardous waste if 220 pounds (approximately three computer systems) are discarded in a single month, businesses and institutions in particular must concern themselves with finding alternatives to disposal for their numerous outdated units.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS

The Commission co-sponsored a second Roundtable on Electronic Equipment Reuse/Recycling/ Re-manufacturing in November 2001 at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In attendance were representatives of electronic equipment recyclers and re-manufacturers, as well as original manufacturers of this equipment.

The group discussed a broad spectrum of issues, including the establishment of a standardization system for electronic equipment recyclers/remanufacturers; the need for labeling of electronic equipment components (e.g. plastic components) and providing incentives for the recycling and reuse of these discards.

XEROX REMANUFACTURING SITE VISIT

The Commission also visited Xerox Corporation in Rochester to view the companyís innovative program of re-manufacturing copiers and printers. Equipment is received from a wide variety of sources and completely stripped down. Parts that can be cleaned and reused are processed. Any components that cannot be reused are recycled. The company re-sells the re-manufactured equipment with the same guarantees as its new equipment.

LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES

The Commission, working with the Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management, chaired by Assemblymember William Colton, has developed several legislative initiatives to address the problems created by the disposal of electronic equipment.

  • A 10146 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, WEPRIN, LAVELLE, COLEMAN, MATUSOW, KOON et. al, Electronic Equipment Recycling Act: This comprehensive bill addresses a number of problems and issues that have arisen with the advent of re-manufacturing, reuse and recycling of electronic equipment. Provisions would require DEC identity electronic equipment containing hazardous materials; creates an electronic equipment recycling program that is funded by a five-dollar fee on the sale of cathode ray tubes (CRTs); prohibit the disposal of CRTs and as solid waste.
  • A 10151 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLEMAN, KOON et. al, Electronic Equipment Recycling Tax Credit: The bill would establish a personal income tax credit in the amount of the sales tax imposed on the cost of recycling electronic equipment.
  • A 10147 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, LAVELLE, COLEMAN, MATUSOW, KOON et. al,, Standardization of Electronic Equipment Recyclers: The bill would require the DEC to establish standards and guidelines for companies recycling and re-manufacturing electronic equipment to ensure environmentally sound processes and procedures for recycling and disposal.

THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

A 1997 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "Electronics Reuse and Recycling Directory" listed 12 outlets for old electronics equipment in New York State ó most on Long Island and in New York City. Since the publication of the EPA directory, several new enterprises for old computers have opened in Rochester (Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery), the Bronx (Per Scholas) and Schenectady (Waste Management and Recycling Products). More will surely follow, creating new jobs for skilled and unskilled workers. The volume of equipment discards is expected to peak in the next five years. Beyond the bricks and mortar of fledgling collection and processing centers, there exists the need for a comprehensive policy to encourage the safe disposition of residentially and commercially generated electronics.

The Commission will continue to be involved in efforts to develop a sound and equitable policy on the environmentally sound reuse, remanufacture and recycling of electronic equipment and to work with recyclers and remanufacturers to create additional incentives for their activities.

photo Assemblymember Koon and Kodak representatives discuss the companyís camera recycling program

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LEGISLATIVE REPORT - 2002


Commission Chair David Koon has established an extensive legislative agenda, expanding on previous priorities to incorporate new initiatives that improve environmental and public health protections for the citizens of New York State. In addition to legislation reported elsewhere in this newsletter, the following legislation has been introduced or is being developed this year:

PROTECTING CHILDRENíS ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY IN SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC PLACES:

photo Assemblymember David Koon was joined by Audrey Newcomb, Judy Braiman, Assemblymember Joseph Errigo and Senator James Alesi at his April 11th press conference, held in Henrietta at Veteranís Memorial Park. The press conference announced the introduction of Assemblymember Koonís bill A 10221, which prohibits the use of wood pressure treated with chromated copper arsenate in public playground equipment.
A 10220 KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLTON et al, Carpeting in Schools: The bill would prohibit the installation of carpeting in any schools after July 1, 2002. The bill would also prohibit the installation of carpeting when schools are renovated in a manner that involves flooring. School aid could be used to pay for removal and replacement of carpeting. Carpeting has been implicated in causing respiratory problems, particularly for children. Assembly Education Committee

A 10221 KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, NOLAN, COLTON, et al, Playground Equipment: The bill would prohibit the use of wood pressure treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) for public playground equipment. The bill would also require sealing of existing playground equipment made of CCA-treated wood. Groundcover beneath such playground equipment would have to be maintained so as to reduce exposure to CCA. The public would be required to be informed about the hazards of CCA and methods of sealing furniture, playground equipment, decks and other structures made of this wood. Arsenic and hexavalent chromium are both known human carcinogens. Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Senator James Alesi will be introducing this bill.

"HEALTHY HOSPITALS":

The Commission has developed a package of bills to reduce exposure to hazardous materials in hospital settings. Commission Chair Koon has introduced the following bills:

A 10264, KOON, COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, MATUSOW, ESPAILLAT, et al - Integrated Pest Management Requirements for Hospitals: The bill would require hospitals to develop integrated pest management plans for their facilities, using alternative methods of pest control and least toxic pesticides as a last resort. Assembly Health Committee

A 10265, KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, et al - Approval of Hospital Siting and Construction: The bill would require the Health Commissioner to review and approve all proposals for construction, remodeling and acquisition of hospitals with respect to proximity of the site to known environmental hazards and with respect to facility design that minimizes environmental and health problems. Assembly Health Committee

A 10263, KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLTON, et al - Mercury Fever Thermometer Sale Ban: The bill would ban the sale of mercury fever thermometers in New York State. There are alternative thermometers available that do not contain mercury, thereby reducing the potential for human and environmental exposures to this poisonous metal. Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee

In addition, former Commission Chair Steven Englebright has introduced two new bills:

A10669 Non-toxic Procurement Standards for Hospitals: The bill would require the Department of Health and the Office of General Services to promulgate standards for procurement of non-toxic commodities and services for hospitals. The legislation is directed at reducing harm for patients, staff and visitors in hospital settings.

A10670 Patient/Staff Notification of Health and Safety Conditions in Hospitals: The bill would require hospitals to notify patients and staff about health and safety conditions in hospitals and to inform them as to how to access this information.

PESTICIDE USE REDUCTION:

Chairman Koon has introduced several bills to reduce pesticide use in the outdoor environment:

A 10157 KOON, ENGLEBRIGFHT, COLTON, ESPAILLAT, et al - Pesticide Use in Freshwater Wetlands: The bill would prohibit the use of pesticides in freshwater wetlands, except in cases of public health emergency declarations by the Department of Health. Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee

A 10156 KOON, ENGLEBRIGFHT, COLTON, et al - Pesticide Use in Tidal Wetlands: The bill would prohibit the use of pesticides in tidal wetlands, except in cases of public health emergency declarations by the Department of Health. Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee

A 10183 KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLTON, ESPAILLAT, et al - Pesticide Use on Utility Rights-of-Way: The bill would prohibit the use of pesticides for utility right-of-way management. Assembly Codes Committee

BREAST CANCER RESEARCH AND EDUCATION:

The Commission continues its advocacy for improving breast cancer research and education in NYS. Chairman Koon has joined with former Commission Chair Steven Englebright to introduce two new bills.

A 10125 would add six persons diagnosed with breast cancer as voting members to the Health Research Science Board, the board that makes recommendations for breast cancer research and education grants to the DOH Commissioner. These persons would be required to be active in community-based breast cancer organizations and would be geographically distributed from around the State.

A10111 would clarify that the State must match all money coming into the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund, including gifts, bequests and grants. Koon and Englebright also introduced and passed a resolution calling on the Governor to declare March 12 (Breast Cancer Advocacy Day) as Breast Cancer Income Tax Check-off Day.

BACKGROUND CHECKS: Assemblymember David Koon has introduced legislation (A 10212) that would create the Council of Contracting Agencies to be responsible for establishing procedures to ensure the collection and timely exchange of information about the background of bidders, contractors and sub-contractors seeking to do business with New York State. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that potential contractors are checked with respect to compliance with relevant state and federal laws and regulations

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GOVERNOR PROPOSES BUDGET CUTS TO CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS!


On January 22 the Governor unveiled his budget proposal for the State fiscal year beginning on April 1. Two critical areas of environmental funding - allocation of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and refinancing of the State Superfund - will be subjects of this yearís budget discussions. The Assembly hopes to deal with both of these issues in a timely manner.

The Environmental Protection Fund

The EPF was established in 1993 as a "locked box" so that resources would be available for environmental projects in both good times and bad times. The Assembly has fought to protect the integrity of the Fund. Historically, the Assembly has successfully prevented the Governor from diverting the Fund for other purposes.

Last year the Governor proposed $150 million, the Assembly $187 million and the Senate $170 million funding for the EPF. Along with many other critical issues, the Legislature did not come to agreement with the Governor. Due to Constitutional constraints, the EPF could not be included in the baseline budget enacted in August 2001. While the Assembly advocated funding the EPF in the supplemental budget passed in November 2001, the Governor refused to negotiate. As a result many critical environmental projects across the State have been delayed because of lack of funding.

Because of last yearís impasse, the Governor is recommending two years of funding in this yearís budget totaling $250 million, and diverting another $100 million from the Fund for other purposes. In addition, the Governor proposes off-loading another $58.4 million of costs for other programs not normally paid by the Fund, onto the EPF. In order to do this, the Governor is recommending decreasing the amount of EPF money traditionally going to certain environmental programs.

Of particular concern to Chairman Koon is the Governorís reduced funding recommendation for one of the few State programs that provides small business with pollution prevention assistance. The EPF secondary materials markets program was recently expanded by an Assembly initiative to provide grants for waste prevention activities, including pollution prevention projects. In Fiscal Year 2000/2001, the State disbursed approximately $5 million in grants, some $1 million that was targeted to pollution prevention projects. In 2001, the Monroe County Health Department received one of these grants that will allow them to carry out a pilot project to provide on-site technical assistance to six Rochester area firms. (See Pollution Prevention Article this issue). However, the Governor proposes to decrease funding for the secondary materials markets program by $1.25 million, or 25% in each of the two fiscal years (FY 2001/2002 and FY 2002/2003) from the $5 million allocated in FY 2000/2001, the last year EPF funds were appropriated.

The Assembly will continue to protect the integrity of the EPF by assuring that these critical environmental programs are sufficiently funded.

The State Superfund

The State Superfund that is used to investigate and clean-up toxic sites through the State has run out of money. The program has been financed through the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act whose funds have been fully committed. Fifty percent of the debt on these bonds was paid by industry fees and 50 percent by taxpayers.

The Governor proposes to shift the costs of the Stateís Superfund cleanup program from polluters to taxpayers. Under the Governorís plan, taxpayers would assume an additional $626 million burden. This would be accomplished by melding the Superfund program with the Oil Spill clean-up program (historically supported 100 percent by spillers and the oil companies). The shift would abandon the 100 percent industry support for the Oil Spill Fund, thereby increasing taxpayer contributions overall to the new Fund.

Furthermore, the Governorís proposal would lower cleanup standards, making them less protective of human health and the environment. The Assembly believes that this critical program can be refinanced without making these compromises. The Assembly also believes that this presents an opportunity to enact a comprehensive brownfields program in the State that will effectively clean-up contaminated sites, provide community participation in these decisions, and lead to real economic redevelopment.

Childrenís Environmental Health and Safety

The Governorís Budget for FY 2001-02 proposed the expenditure of $130 million for projects to ensure the environmental health and safety of children in schools. The proposal was not included in last yearís final budget. However, in this yearís proposed Budget, the Governor has again proposed this funding, but included the money in uncategorized and block grant categories. In order to ensure the $130 million will be spent to upgrade school facilities, Chairman Koon and Assemblymember Steven Englebright have proposed that this funding not be incorporated in the Governorís proposed flex aid initiative. They have recommended that the funding be specifically earmarked for improving school facilities.

Other Issues


There are other proposals in the Executive Budget that have been reviewed by the Commission. Assemblymember David Koon has proposed several modifications and inclusions in this Budget relating to environmental and public health programs, including pesticide use reduction (see Pesticide Fee Increase article), expanding pollution prevention programs (see separate article this newsletter), enhancing diesel school bus alternative fuel and retrofit programs, and initiating mercury product take-back programs. Future newsletters will update you on our progress.

GOVERNOR PROPOSES PESTICIDE FEE INCREASES

Once again, the Executive Budget proposes to increase several of the pesticide regulatory fees for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Increases are proposed for pesticide applicator certification and re-certification, pesticide business registration, commercial permits and certification exams. The Budget Narrative is non-specific regarding work to be performed on integrated pest management, West Nile Virus and pesticide applicator certification with the additional funding.

Assemblymember David Koon and Assemblymember Thomas DiNapoli (new Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee) have recommended that the following activities be funded and included in the final budget:

  • Upgrade the pesticide regulatory program, including improved pesticide applicator certification, recertification, testing and training requirements; reinstatement of more stringent pesticide registration requirements; pesticide safety training, storage and sale requirements; expanded pesticide use reporting requirements; and expanded pesticide use notification requirements.
  • Provide funding for agricultural pesticide collection days to recover obsolete and banned pesticides that remain on farms across the State.
  • Provide funding for one or more pilot projects on highway right-of-way management without the use of pesticides.
  • Establish a pilot program to test playgrounds around the State to determine the extent of contamination from pressure treated wood containing chromated copper arsenate (CCE), and the development of remediation programs where contamination exists.

Additionally, Assemblymembers Koon, DiNapoli, Steven Englebright (Chair, Assembly Aging Committee and former Commission Chair), Richard Gottfried (Chair, Assembly Health Committee), William Colton (Chair, Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management) and Ruben Diaz (Chair, Task Force on Critical Transportation Choices) are interested in funding a study to test levels of diesel fumes inside school buses in New York. The members also recommended funding a pilot program for replacing diesel school buses with alternative fuel buses or retrofitting diesel engines in areas with a high proportion of diesel school buses. There is a need for long-term financial support to retrofit or replace diesel buses across the State.


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BREAST CANCER ADVOCACY LOBBY DAY


photo Assemblymember Koon addresses the NYS Breast Cancer Network Advocacy Day audience.

Breast cancer activists came from all over the State to attend the Breast Cancer Network Lobby Day on March 12th. Among the featured speakers were Assemblymembers David Koon, Steven Englebright, Thomas DiNapoli, Richard Gottfried, Martin Luster and Patricia Eddington. The Network lobbying priorities included the Englebright, Koon (A10125) /S 6590Seward and (see legislative report) A 10111, Englebright, Koon et al.


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