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2016 Environmental Progress Report New York State Legislative Session

nylcv.org


INTRODUCTION As you know by now, we’re focused on three things: we safeguard and restore our natural resources, we ensure every New Yorker is protected from toxic chemicals and pollutants, and we fight the long-term effects of climate change. With that in mind, this session we supported a package of budget priorities and bills that we felt would make significant headway in those areas, while also having a realistic shot at getting done. We’re pleased to report that overall, this was one of the most successful sessions for the environment in recent memory. The budget, in particular, saw significant increases in funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, which reached its intended funding level of $300 million for the first time. It also included significant measures to increase electric vehicle adoption and to address our water infrastructure crisis. Though the budget wasn’t perfect, we can confidently grade it with an A this year. Despite low expectations, there were some real victories to be proud of in the legislative portion of this year’s session too. We helped pass the nation’s first comprehensive bill to deal with lead in school water. A constitutional amendment to benefit the towns in Adirondack Park passed, a critical step toward giving the Boreas Ponds Tract a “Forever Wild” designation, and we helped stop a bad bill that would have prevented New York City from attempting to reduce plastic bag consumption. Even so, there is still much left to do. Another top priority, a bill to ban triclosan in consumer products, was blocked in the Assembly. A number of other important bills also did not reach the finish line this year. For that reason, we are giving the legislative portion of session a B. We hope the legislature continues to build on this solid effort in 2017. Budget Grade:

A

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Legislative Grade:

B

NEW YORK LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS


BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS •

A historic $300 million Environmental Protection Fund allocation, up from $177 million last year.

$36 million for municipal parks and waterfront revitalization, with more than half of this allocated to low-income and urban communities throughout the state.

$9 million for electric vehicle charging stations (through NYSERDA) and an additional $1 million for zero emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure.

$2,000 consumer rebates for ZEVs and grants of up to $5,000 for municiple fleets.

$20 million for farmland protection, up 33 percent from last year.

$200 million for clean water infrastructure for each of the next two years.

On a less positive note, $30 million in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative money was diverted to non-climate related programs.

The MTA capital program was not passed, although there appears to be about $2.9 billion in the budget for the MTA’s costs this year.

Grading System NYLCV’s Legislative Progress Report grades how well the legislature worked together to pass laws to protect the environment and defeat bills that would harm it. A bill’s progress is evaluated in each house using the ratings key, below, and then averaged to grade the legislature to see how it did in actually getting the job done. Progress in both houses results in higher grades for the legislature as a whole. A = Bill passed both houses and sent to the governor for approval. B = Bill passed but both houses did not agree on final version. C = Bill passed one house but not the other. D = Bill made progress but died in committee. F = Bill made no progress or there was no bill.

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FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE Grade:

C

NYLCV Priority

Carryout Bag Fee Ban S7336 (Felder) / A9904 (Cusick) Senate: Passed Senate 35-24 on 6/7 Assembly: Passed Cities Committee 13-2 on 4/26

This bill is unique as it is the only one in our priorities that NYLCV opposed. This legislation would have preempted local governments from passing measures to deal with plastic bag litter and waste through fees or taxes. Plastic bags damage ocean marine life, cause street litter, and increased carbon emissions in their manufacture and shipping. They also substantially increase the amount of waste sent to landfills. A small fee has proven to be the most effective policy to reduce their consumption in other municipalities.

Ocean Acidifacation Task Force Grade:

A

S7908 (LaValle) / A10264 (Englebright) Senate: Passed Senate 61-0 on June 14 Assembly: Passed Assembly 94-0 on June 2

With New York’s unique wildlife and significant tourism, fishing, and recreation industries that rely on the ocean and our estuaries, this bill is important in order to fully understand the impacts of ocean acidification. This bill would create a fourteen member New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force within the Department of Environmental Conservation to evaluate the impacts of ocean acidification and make recommendations about how to reduce the impacts.

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NEW YORK LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS


Electric Vehicle Charging Tariff Grade:

C

S7455A (Griffo) / A9574A (Paulin) Senate: Died in Energy Committee Assembly: Passed Assembly 107-5 on June 14

This bill would provide greater incentives for the ownership of electric vehicles and encourages grid-responsible charging times. Incentivizing the use of electric cars along with the use of renewable energy sources is crucial for the achievement of New York State’s sustainability goals. In the United States electricity generation and transportation account for more than half of carbon emissions. Primarily, the bill creates a tariff that would incentivize the purchase and use of electric vehicles.

Biofuel Requirements Grade:

D

S7553A (Valesky) / A10529A (Fahy) Senate: Passed Rules Committee 19-2 on June 17 Assembly: Died in Environmental Conservation

Heating oil containing biofuel burns cleaner and more efficiently than regular heating oil, reducing pollutants and cleaning the air. Biofuels can be a renewable source of energy that produces less harmful gases when burned. This bill would increase the amount of biofuel sold in New York State heating oil by phasing in blending requirements once certain production targets are met. This will prevent price spikes that could result from supply and demand issues.

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Climate and Community Protection Act Grade:

C

S8005 (Savino) / A10342 (Englebright) Senate: Died in Environmental Conservation Assembly: Passed Assembly 92-41 on June 1

The New York State Climate and Community Protection Act would mandate that New York’s economy will be powered by clean, renewable energy by 2050. This bill would establish New York as a true global leader on climate action and demonstrate how embracing challenges and opportunities with aggressive action can deliver a more just and equitable economy.

Community Net Metering Grade:

C

S3544B (Griffo) / A10426 (Paulin) Senate: Died in Finance Committee Assembly: Passed Assembly 101-1 on June 16

While New York has a vast potential for solar panel implementation, there are many residents who do not have the space or capacity for such renewable luxuries. This bill would have allowed people who normally do not have access to solar energy to purchase solar energy through co-operative energy sharing opportunities.

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NEW YORK LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS


Farm to Urban Solar Grade:

C

S5277A (Funke) / A7608 (Crespo) Senate: Passed Senate 61-0 on June 15 Assembly: Died in Energy Committee

This bill would help facilitate the proliferation of solar energy throughout the state by connecting residents of multifamily housing with energy producers. By connecting urban residents with solar energy from farms and other qualified lands, we can allow them to share in the environmental and economic benefits of solar. In addition, by allowing owners of farmland to sell energy that they have produced via photovoltaic systems, we can ensure greater, more secure incomes for farm-based households.

CONSERVE NATURAL RESOURCES Grade:

C

NYLCV Priority

Triclosan Awareness Act S6636A (Martins) / A9230A (Schimel) Senate: Passed Senate 62-0 on June 18 Assembly: Died in Codes Committee

This legislation would prohibit the sale of cleaning products that contain triclosan, a chemical pesticide that can harm wildlife and people. Exposure to triclosan in the environment is toxic to algae and aquatic life and studies had found notable amounts of triclosan in surface waters, soils, and sediments. Triclosan also impairs muscle function in both animals and humans, including the heart.

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Grade:

A

NYLCV Priority

Land Bank - Constitutional Amendment S8026A (Little) / A10721A (Englebright) Senate: Passed Senate 62-0 on June 18 Assembly: Passed Assembly 99-8 on June 17

The state's forest preserves are a patchwork of public and private lands, where people live within the park and are surrounded by wilderness. For this model to be successful long term, and for the Catskill and Adirondack Parks to remain sustainable, this bill ensures that communities can provide basic services while also maintaining the strong protections for natural resources that exist under Article 14 of the State Constitution. This proposal strikes that balance to ensure sustainability for residents of the park and continued conservation of our valuable resources.

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NEW YORK LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS


Paint Stewardship Program Grade:

C

S4926C (O’Mara) / A6199C (Stirpe) Senate: Passed Senate 61-0 on 6/6/16 Assembly: Died in Environmental Conservation Committee

This law would require collection, recycling and proper disposal of leftover architectural paint, and reduce or eliminate a potentially hazardous substance from improper disposal in landfills. The bill calls on product manufacturers, retailers, and users to take responsibility for the product’s safe disposal.

PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH Grade:

A

NYLCV Priority

School Safe Drinking Water S8158 (O’Mara) / A10740 (Lupardo) Senate: Passed Senate 62-0 on June 18 Assembly: Passed Assembly 108-0 on June 18

All across New York State, parents are concerned about reports of elevated lead levels in school drinking water. While some schools are voluntarily testing their water, most are not required to do so by state or federal law. This bill would require schools to test for lead contamination at the tap in public schools, inform parents and teachers of the test results, provide state funds for testing and remediation, and require the state Department of Health to create an annual report on these tests.

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Superfund Site Justice Act Grade:

A

S6824B (Marchione) / A9568A (McDonald) Senate: Passed Senate 62-0 on June 16 Assembly: Passed Assembly 100-5 on May 24

With the recent discovery of contaminated drinking water in Hoosick Falls, residents learned that they may have been exposed to harmful chemicals in the water they drink and bathe in. This bill focuses on these types of health-related injuries by changing the statute of limitation from the date of exposure to the chemical to either the date that someone discovers they are ill from that exposure or the date the site containing the chemical is designated a Superfund site, whichever is latest. Allowing residents to seek redress against those responsible follows the general principle that a polluter should pay for the harm their activity caused to others.

Environmental Impact Zones Grade:

C

S959 (Serrano) / A3382 (Peoples-Stokes) Senate: Died in Environmental Conservation Assembly: Passed Assembly 104-7 on May 4

This bill would identify the criteria that the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation should consider for a list of high local environment impact. It requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to publish a list of those areas in the State that are most adversly affected by existing environmental hazards.

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NEW YORK LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS


Mercury Rotational Balancing Products Grade:

A

S5322C (Marcellino) / A172C (Rosenthal) Senate: Passed Senate 62-0 on June 16 Assembly: Passed Assembly 95-6 on June 17

Mercury rotational balancing products are aftermarket devices that are installed on vehicle tires, crankshafts, airplane propellers, and other spinning mechanisms. The rubber tubes containing the mercury are prone to cracking, puncturing, or other failure, allowing the mercury to escape. Passing this bill would further the legislative goal of reducing environmental mercury.

Farmer Food Bank Donations Grade:

A

S7833 (Funke) / A10584 (Moya) Senate: Passed Senate 62-0 on June 17 Assembly: Passed Assembly 109-0 on June 16

This bill establishes a credit for donations to a food bank or other emergency food program by New York state farmers. Every year over 100 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables are left to waste on farms because they either don't look perfect or due to market fluctuations. This is a huge loss of resources and a driver of increased greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers cannot always put these left over crops to good use because there is not enough money, time, or workers to harvest and donate the scraps. This bill will give farmers the opportunity to donate their produce to local food banks by creating a tax incentive to help set off the costs of doing so.

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www.nylcv.org The New York League of Conservation Voters is the only nonpartisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that fights for clean water, clean air, renewable energy and open space through political action.

Facebook.com/NYLCV Twitter.com/NYLCV Marcia Bystryn, President ďżź Christopher Goeken, Director of Public Policy Jordan Levine, Communications Director The New York League of Conservation Voters, Inc. 30 Broad Street, 30th Floor New York, NY 10004 Phone: 212-361-6350

2016 Environmental Progress Report - New York State Legislative Session  
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