Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney today announced the passage of important environmental legislation to help mark this year's Earth Day. The package includes legislation that would ensure safe drinking water and clean air; protect our children and communities from environmental hazards and harmful chemicals; protect our local economies from the negative economic and environmental impact of invasive species; and promote environmental justice in vulnerable communities.
"Keeping our air and water clean, creating as little landfill waste as possible, protecting all New Yorkers from harmful chemicals - the Assembly Earth Day package is intended to protect our communities and the natural beauty of our state," said Speaker Silver (D-Manhattan). "The bills included in this package underscore the Assembly's commitment to environmental conservation."
"Earth Day is an opportunity for us to focus on the health of New Yorkers and our environment. Protecting and preserving our environment is critical to our health and well-being, as well as for future generations of New Yorkers. This package of bills does just that," said Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst). "These measures will help keep pharmaceuticals out of our drinking water, keep harmful chemicals out of children's consumer products, preserve our natural resources and create cleaner, healthier communities."
Ensuring Clean Air and Clean Water
The Earth Day package, which will help ensure the safety of New York's air and drinking water, includes three pieces of legislation to:
ensure safe drinking water for the more than one million New Yorkers with private wells (A.667B/Jaffee);
enact a "Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act" to increase public notice regarding overflows of untreated or partially treated sewage (A.9420A/Sweeney); and
require Department of Environmental Conservation to promulgate rules and regulations establishing limits on greenhouse gas emissions (A.5346/Sweeney).
Safeguarding Our Children and Communities from Harmful Chemicals
The package is also aimed at drawing attention to and decreasing incidences of exposure to harmful chemicals. It includes three bills to:
protect communities from harmful chemicals by publishing a list of areas most adversely affected by existing environmental hazards (A.611/Peoples-Stokes);
develop a list of harmful chemicals used in children's products and prohibit their use (A.3141/Sweeney); and
encourage proper disposal of pharmaceutical and over the counter drugs to prevent accidental ingestion and/or unintended environmental harm (A.9421/Sweeney).
establish a permanent environmental justice advisory group and an environmental justice interagency coordinating council to ensure that low-income and minority communities are not suffering from disproportionate levels of pollution (A.947/Peoples-Stokes);
divert more recyclable materials away from landfills by clarifying the obligations of waste haulers and specifying the materials to be separated for recycling (A.1241A/Colton); and
strengthen protections regarding the prevention, spread, and control of invasive species to help mitigate their devastating environmental and economic impacts (A.9422/Sweeney).
In addition to this Earth Day package, the Assembly passed legislation in January (A.7013/Sweeney) providing that certain waste produced by oil and natural gas drilling operations be classified as "hazardous" if it meets the definition of hazardous waste. Any such hazardous waste would be required to be treated in a manner consistent with other hazardous wastes. This measure underscores the Assembly's commitment to protect New Yorkers from potential harm due to gas and oil drilling.