Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Karen McMahon (D-Amherst) to increase education and awareness of the environmental and health impacts of idling vehicles passed both the Assembly and Senate this week. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk to await her signature.
The American Lung Association found that nearly half of New York State’s 19 million residents live in areas where their overall health is put at an increased risk due to unhealthy air. Twenty-six counties in New York State have air quality monitors, and half of those issued failing grades. Exposure to harmful contaminants in the air such as ground-level ozone and carbon dioxide have been linked to respiratory problems and diseases. Gasoline-powered vehicles emit carbon dioxide and therefore contribute to poor air quality and exacerbate global warming.
“Increasing temperatures and rising cases of respiratory illness have become just a fact of the matter in our state,” said Assemblymember Karen McMahon. “We’ve worked to cut emissions and set ambitious climate goals, but one simple factor in the overall poor air quality in much of New York State is the impact of idling vehicles. As gasoline powered vehicles sit and run, they dump tons of pollutants into the air, causing a myriad of problems. I’m proud to have brought forward this legislation which will require the State Department of Conservation to issue educational information on the consequences of idling and sound the alarm about this all-too-common practice.”
“Despite measures to mitigate the effects of vehicle emissions, air quality in many regions of our state remains unacceptably poor,” said Senator Sean Ryan who carried the bill in the State Senate. “Making sure drivers understand the ways their cars can impact our health and the health of the environment is one important component in the effort to make New York a healthier place to live and work.”
The bill requires the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to educate the public about the health and environmental impacts of idling vehicles, such as air pollution from vehicle emissions, environmental impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and health risks associated with exposure to emissions. This will include distribution of educational materials and publishing information on the department website.