Assemblymember Steck Helps Pass Earth Day Legislative Package

In recognition of Earth Day, Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced the Assembly passed several measures to help better protect the environment. This legislation addresses several major environmental issues and will make New York more environmentally friendly.

“We have been abusing the environment for far too long and it’s beginning to have a serious effect on our communities,” Assemblymember Steck said. “This package of bills will help us combat many of the environmental challenges we are facing, making our state a leader in environmental protections.”

Ensuring private wells are clean for drinking

In an effort to ensure clean drinking water, the Assembly passed the Private Well Testing Act, a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Steck (A.1040). The legislation would require the testing of drinking water from private wells upon transfer of property, helping ensure that potential purchasers are aware of contaminants that may be present.

“Many families across our state rely on private wells and many of them are unaware of the possible dangers that go along with that,” Assemblymember Steck said. “This bill will ensure that families who are moving can do so without worrying that the water at their new home is contaminated.”

Tackling climate change

The Assembly Earth Day package includes a measure that would require the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to establish limits on greenhouse-gas emissions and create a greenhouse-gas reporting system (A.6327).

“Climate change is a serious threat,” Assemblymember Steck said. “New Yorkers have seen firsthand how dangerous climate change can be as many communities across the state still recover from Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene. This legislation will help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and let residents have a say in the regulatory process.”

Protecting New Yorkers from harmful chemicals

The Assembly also passed the New York State Healthy and Green Procurement Act, a measure that would establish a preference for the purchase of commodities, services and technologies by the state that minimize adverse impacts on public health and the environment (A.6046). Greener, less toxic day-to-day products, such as cleaning agents and paper products, and technologies like lighting and sustainable building practices, would become preferred items for purchase.

Legislation was also passed 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.3754). Additionally, the package includes a bill that would create a drug disposal program to encourage the proper disposal of unwanted prescription medications (A.5465).

Also included in this year’s Earth Day package are two bills that help protect New York families from harmful chemicals. The first piece of legislation would prohibit the use of chemical flame retardants in residential upholstered furniture (A.6557). The second measure would prevent exposure to dangerous chemicals and ensure the use of safer chemical alternatives in children’s products (A.6328).

Reducing environmental impact and fighting for environmental justice

Several 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, and ensure that environmental factors are considered when making state funding decisions.

One measure requires the DEC to publish a list of “high local environmental impact zones” (A.3729). 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 environmental justice policies (A.3569).

Additionally, this package of legislation would ensure that state funds and permits for projects such as water and sewage treatment plants include consideration of the effects that climate change and extreme weather events – including sea level rise – could have on these facilities (A.6558).

“The public needs to be made aware of where these high pollution areas are, as those who live and work in these locations could unknowingly be putting their health in jeopardy,” Assemblymember Steck said. “These bills increase public awareness and will help create a safe and healthy New York.”