New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) announced the Assembly passed a package of Earth Day bills to better protect our environment. This legislative package addresses some of the top environmental health issues facing the state, including childhood chemical exposure, pollution control, global warming, proper recycling and preserving clean water.
“By better protecting our environment now, we can help preserve the beauty and health of our natural surroundings for many years to come,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “The Assembly has a tradition of helping create a greener, healthier and safer state. Today, we’re continuing our efforts with legislation that makes New York a leader in environmental protection.”
Preventing global warming
The Assembly Earth Day package includes a measure that would require the Department of Environmental Conservation to establish limits on greenhouse-gas emissions and create a greenhouse-gas reporting system (A.5346-A). This legislation would help prevent global warming-causing pollution.
“With each passing year, global warming becomes more of a concern because it not only threatens our environment and natural resources, but public health as well,” Thiele said. “This legislation would reduce emissions into our atmosphere – decreasing future damage – and allow for public input and involvement in this vitally important process.”
Recycling and drug disposal programs
“Far too often, items or materials that are toxic to our environment are carelessly thrown away, causing serious damage to our soil, air and water. By being more conscientious about proper recycling and disposal of unwanted drugs, we can keep dangerous chemicals out of our environment, “Assemblyman Thiele said.
The Assembly’s legislation includes a measure that would specify which materials are required to be separated for recycling by waste haulers and prohibit the dumping of those materials in landfills or incinerators (A.1241-A).
Additionally, the package includes a bill that would create a demonstration drug disposal program to encourage the proper disposal of unwanted prescription and over the counter medications (A.9421).
Protecting children from toxic chemicals
Additionally, the Assembly passed a measure that would prevent exposure to dangerous chemicals and ensure the use of safer chemical alternatives in children’s products (A.3141-A).
“Currently, the State prohibits the use of dangerous chemicals on a chemical-by-chemical basis, but since children are more susceptible to harm from smaller amounts of chemicals, some children’s products can present a potential threat,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “Several other states have already adopted comprehensive chemical policies to be sure kids are safe from coming into contact with these harmful toxins.”
Protecting our water, public health and native species
Also included in the Assembly’s legislative package are measures to protect and preserve New York’s drinking water, lakes, rivers and valuable ecosystems. The bills would:
- require the testing of drinking water from private wells upon transfer of property, helping ensure that potential purchasers are aware of any contaminants that may exist (A.667-B);
- increase the efficiency of public notice regarding sewage discharge to help make sure the public has the timely information needed to limit recreational swimming and fishing (A.9420-A); and
- strengthen regulations regarding the prevention, spread, and control of invasive species to help mitigate damaging environmental effects on ecosystems and native species (A.9422).
Reducing environmental impact and fighting for environmental justice
Two bills in the Assembly’s Earth Day package specifically work to better protect areas of the state that are most adversely affected by current environmental hazards.
One measure requires the DEC to publish a list of “high local environmental impact zones” (A.611). “Areas with existing environmental hazards are often selected for new development projects, leading to further concentration of environmental hazards within that geographic area and resulting in increased health risk to residents,” Thiele noted.
Another piece of legislation passed by the Assembly would establish a Permanent Environmental Justice Advisory Group within the DEC and an Environmental Justice Interagency Coordinating Council, and would require state agencies to adopt and abide by effective environmental justice policies (A.947).