April 22, 2015

Speaker Heastie, Environmental Conservation Chair Englebright Announce Assembly Legislative Package For 45th Annual Earth Day Observance
Pressing Environmental Concerns Addressed by Assembly, Including Chemical Laden Children's Products, Water Pollution and Environmental Justice

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright announced an environmental legislative package that the Assembly is expected to pass today on the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.

"Once again, the Assembly marks the importance of the annual Earth Day observance with the passage of legislation to protect public health and the environment," said Heastie. "Not only do these measures address pressing environmental challenges, but they also are indicative of the Assembly's long-standing and unwavering commitment to reducing pollution, safeguarding drinking water and protecting our natural resources."

"On this milestone anniversary of Earth Day, we are reminded of our inherent link to planet Earth and how a healthy environment is essential to our quality of life and survival," said Englebright. "The legislative package the Assembly will pass today establishes measures that both protect the public from the harmful impact of contaminants and pollutants and preserve the environment for future generations," said Englebright.

The Assembly's 2015 Earth Day Legislative package contains bills that address the growing concern for the health-threatening chemicals found in some children's products and the presence of microbeads that pollute the state's water bodies, including the Great Lakes.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would be directed to post on its web site a list of chemicals that are found in items meant for children and pose a risk to human health. The bill would require manufacturers of children's products to notify retailers when the merchandise they are selling contains one of the DEC listed chemicals, and it also would prohibit the sale of children's products that contain the most harmful chemicals (A.5612, Englebright).

The Microbead-Free Waters Act would ban the sale or distribution of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads, which are micro-sized pieces of plastic found in some facial and body wash products that slip through municipal water treatment plants and into bodies of water throughout the state. The beads enter the food chain where they can be mistaken for food by fish. These small plastic bits are capable of absorbing toxins that pose a serious threat to human health and wildlife (A.5896, Schimel).

The Earth Day legislation also includes bills that would:

Among the environmental bills the Assembly will take up later in the legislative session are the Private Well Testing Act, requiring the Health Department to establish safety standards for the testing of drinking water from privately owned wells (A.2295, Jaffee) and legislation to clarify the handling of certain recyclable materials that are to be separated for recycling (A.4624, Colton). This measure also would ban private and municipal waste haulers from delivering recyclable items to landfills or incinerators.

Another initiative to be acted on this session is the bill establishing the Food Service Waste Reduction Act. The legislation would require contractors hired by state agencies and municipalities to use food service ware that is made from material other than polystyrene foam. Containers made of polystyrene, a known pollutant, can take more than 500 years to fully breakdown. It also would direct the DEC to study the impact of a statewide ban on the use of polystyrene foam in food and beverage containers (A.5743, Kavanagh).