May 2, 2011

Assembly Earth Day Package Protects Environment, Improves New Yorkers' Health

Assembly legislation aims to preserve wetlands and
reduce environmental hazards

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney announced the passage of a legislative package to honor Earth Day. The package includes measures to ban the use of dangerous chemicals; expand recycling and disposal of hazardous materials; protect New York's wetlands; and implement policies that promote environmental justice for disadvantaged New Yorkers.

"This legislative package builds on the Assembly's commitment to improving the health and well-being of New Yorkers and protecting our state's natural resources," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "The bills included in this package will help enhance our environment. I'm proud of my colleagues in the Assembly for being proactive on these vital issues."

"Earth Day is an opportunity for us to focus on the health of New Yorkers and our environment. This package of bills does just that," said Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst). "These measures will help preserve our natural resources and create cleaner, healthier communities."

The Assembly's Earth Day package includes two bills that would help safeguard New York's invaluable wetlands. Those bills would provide the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with authority over wetlands that are one acre or more (A.3374/Sweeney) and require violators to repair damaged areas adjacent to wetlands (A.5638/Sweeney).

Two other measures would improve recycling policies and procedures throughout the state by establishing clearer requirements concerning the disposal of recyclable materials (A.1241/Colton) and encourage using recycled materials when making "packing peanuts" (A.6145/Sweeney).

The package also includes bills that help ensure New York has clean and safe water by authorizing the department of health to promulgate rules and regulations to establish standards for the testing of drinking water from privately owned wells (A.667/Jaffee) and requiring permits for large water withdrawals (A.5318-A/Sweeney). These bills do not address issues associated with hyrofracking, which will be the subject of further consideration later in this session.

Other bills in the package would: The package also includes a bill that restricts the use of Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), a flame retardant used in a variety of products - including televisions and computers - which has been linked to permanent neurological disorders such as deficits in learning, memory, hearing and changes in behavior (A.5798/Sweeney).

In addition, the Assembly passed the New York State Healthy and Green Procurement Act, which would establish a procurement preference for the purchase of products, technologies and services by the state that minimize adverse affects on public health and the environment (A.6366-A/Sweeney).

"New York should serve as a leader for practices that will create and maintain a healthy environment and improve the well-being of its citizens," Sweeney said. "These measures will help give New York a brighter, healthier and more prosperous future."

"My colleagues in the Assembly and I will continue working to protect New Yorkers and our environment from harmful toxins, greenhouse gases and hazardous waste," Silver said. "These measures will help ensure that future generations of New Yorkers can enjoy a vibrant, safe and healthy environment."