|New York State||Assembly|
December 15, 2002
Honorable Sheldon Silver
Dear Speaker Silver:
With pleasure, I submit to you the 2002 Annual Report of the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation. Developing a sound, workable environmental policy that promotes environmental protection, encourages economic growth, and protects the health and safety of all New Yorkers has long been a priority for the New York State Assembly. This year the Committee and the Assembly continued their efforts to protect New York State's invaluable natural resources and safeguard our health through sound, workable legislation.
Refinancing the State Superfund and creating a comprehensive brownfields program are among the top priorities of the Committee. Superfund has been bankrupt since March 2001, leaving hundreds of contaminated sites without funding for investigations and/or clean-ups. The Assembly refused to accept the Governor's inadequate proposal which would stretch funding out over 20 to 25 years and weaken clean-up standards. The Assembly proposed an accelerated 10-year plan which would include bonding of $200 million annually and include the more than 250 "substance" sites which are currently ineligible for Superfund financing. The Committee was disappointed that the Executive refused to compromise on a funding level somewhere between the Assembly's accelerated plan and its pay-as-you-go proposal. Regarding a brownfields program, the Committee was disappointed that the Executive's proposal looked more like corporate welfare than sound environmental policy.
The Committee took extensive action this year to protect public health, reduce exposure to toxins and protect the state's natural resources, and is able to report a number of significant legislative victories. The Committee succeeded in enacting a new law to require dentists to recycle mercury and dental waste generated in their practices, thereby eliminating one source of mercury entering the waste stream. The Committee was also successful in enacting a new law protecting children from exposure to arsenic by prohibiting public entities from constructing structures on playgrounds using lumber treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA). The Committee also took actions to protect wildlife and their habitat by enacting new laws prohibiting the sale of small lead fishing sinkers which often poison waterfowl and authorizing the designation of Natural Heritage Areas for the purposes of conserving and managing the State's biological diversity.
The Committee was disappointed in the Senate's failure to support any legislation to improve the air New Yorkers breathe. In particular, the Senate's lack of action to address the air quality concerns raised in the aftermath of September 11 was very unfortunate. The Assembly passed Assembly bill A.10130 (Silver) which would have required the use of low-sulfur diesel fuel in the hundreds of diesel engines and diesel-powered trucks in use each day at the ground zero site during the cleanup and rebuilding efforts. This bill would have protected the residents and workers of Lower Manhattan from the health effects associated with the burning of high-sulfur diesel fuels, which range from premature death to aggravation of asthma and allergy symptoms. While the Governor failed to either support this legislation or to act during the recovery efforts, continued pressure on the part of the Assembly led to an announcement that the State will act to reduce emissions from construction equipment during rebuilding.
The Committee is pleased to report success on the budget front in restoring funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Environmental projects across the State were stalled during the 2001-02 fiscal year, when the Executive refused to negotiate EPF appropriations. In 2002 the Committee fought hard for a full two-years of EPF appropriations totaling $250 million. The Committee was also successful in securing $7.3 million for urban/underserved communities and transforming the Governor's raid of the EPF into a loan, ensuring the availability of EPF funds for future environmental projects.
Under your leadership and with your continued support of the Committee's efforts, I look forward to the 2003 legislative session when we will continue the work of preserving and protecting New York's tremendous environmental resources.
Assembly Standing Committee on
2002 Annual Report
Thomas P. DiNapoli, Chairman
Thomas P. DiNapoli, Chairman
Alexander B. Grannis
Ronald C. Tocci
William L. Parment
Robert K. Sweeney
William F. Boyland
Edward C. Sullivan
Jacob E. Gunther III
Ruben Diaz, Jr.
Michael N. Gianaris
Robert Warner, Ranking Minority Member
Fred Thiele, Jr.
Andrea Miller, Legislative Coordinator
Alexander J. Roth, Senior Legislative Analyst
Julia Mallalieu, Committee Counsel
Jeffrey O'Donnell, Committee Assistant
Jacqueline Canabush, Program and Counsel Secretary
Grisel Davis, Committee Clerk
The Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, now in its 32nd year, has jurisdiction over legislation affecting State environmental policy. The Committee considers bills amending the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law, Canal Law, Executive Law, Soil and Water Conservation Districts Law, and Navigation Law.
The primary concerns of the Committee are pollution prevention and control, resource management, and environmental quality issues. The Committee also monitors the activities and enforcement of environmental laws by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). During the 2002 legislative session the Committee considered 424 bills, acting favorably on 113, and 21 became law.
In 2002, the Environmental Conservation Committee examined policy issues with the assistance of four subcommittees:
This Subcommittee focuses on fishing, hunting, and trapping issues. Included within its jurisdiction are proposals for setting fish and game seasons and limitations.
The Subcommittee on Long Island Barrier Beaches addresses the following issues:
This Subcommittee examines issues that affect marine life in New York's harbors and coastal zones.
This Subcommittee considers issues relating to the protection, conservation, management and enhancement of open space and natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
During the 2002-03 budget negotiations, the Assembly fought hard to protect the funding that fuels the State's progressive environmental protection efforts. The fiscal crisis following the September 11th attacks resulted in a particularly tight budget year. The negotiations were further complicated by the Governor's unwillingness to negotiate Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) appropriations as part of the 2001-02 budget. Despite these hardships, the Assembly was successful in providing two full years of funding for EPF projects, transforming the Governor's raid on the EPF into a loan, removing the offload of programs traditionally supported by the General Fund from the EPF and providing much needed funding for urban/underserved areas.
Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)
A significant environmental victory was achieved this year with the appropriation of a full two years of funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Environmental projects across the state were stalled during the 2001-02 fiscal year, when agreement could not be reached on appropriating any of the funds in the EPF, but the situation was remedied in 2002, as the Committee fought hard for a full two-years of EPF appropriations totaling $250 million. With $125 million to cover the expenses of 2001-02 and another $125 million for this year, environmental projects across the state can once again move forward.
In his budget proposal, the Governor sought to raid the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and proposed a series of "offloads" which would include within the EPF some $50 million for programs that had traditionally been funded through the General Fund. These offloads would have meant a significant reduction in funding for traditional EPF programs such as Land Acquisition, Local Waterfront Revitalization, Municipal Parks and Municipal Recycling. Instead, the Assembly successfully fought to eliminate the Governor's offloads and increase funding over the amount proposed by the Governor for traditional Assembly priorities such as urban parks and waterfront revitalization, municipal recycling, secondary materials marketing assistance, and agricultural and farmland protection.
However, the events of September 11th, and the resulting down-turn in the economy did place unprecedented stress on the State's finances. The Governor looked to raid the EPF, which often caries a healthy fund balance, to close the gap in other areas of the State Budget. Through the Assembly's efforts, this raid was transformed into a loan, thus ensuring the availability of EPF funds for environmental projects.
The following table provides a detailed description of the allocations within the individual EPF accounts.
|Environmental Protection Fund|
|Solid Waste Account||22.175||11.500||11.500||14.435||13.920|
|Hudson R. Natural Resource Damages||1.300||1.300||1.300||1.300||1.300|
|Parks, Rec. & Historic Pres. Account||46.550||37.452||37.452||47.935||47.750|
|Local Waterfront Revitalization*||7.068||5.000||5.000||6.685||6.750|
|Hudson River Park||20.000||15.000||15.000||15.000||15.000|
|State Parks Projects||||||||11.000||10.000|
|Historic Barn Program||||1.000||1.000||1.000||1.000|
|Zoos, Botanical Gardens, & Aquaria||||4.952||4.952|||||
|Open Space Account||56.275||76.048||76.048||62.630||63.330|
|Agricultural & Farmland Protection||5.500||6.000||6.000||8.000||8.000|
|Hudson River Estuary Management||6.000||5.825||5.825||5.800||5.800|
|Non-point Source Pollution Control||6.500||4.000||4.000||5.500||6.000|
|Soil and Water Conservation Districts||1.350||1.300||1.300||1.860||1.860|
|Finger Lakes - Lake Ontario Watershed||1.300||1.000||1.000||1.300||1.300|
|Albany Pine Bush||0.325||0.325||0.325||0.370||0.370|
|Long Island Pine Barrens Planning||0.700||0.700||0.700||0.700||0.700|
|Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve||0.350||0.350||0.350||0.350||0.350|
|Peconic Bay Estuary||||0.200||0.200||||0.200|
|Onondaga Lake Cleanup||||5.000||5.000|||||
|NYC Watershed Protection Activities||||0.984||2.142|||||
|DEC Capital Projects||||15.557||14.399|||||
|* 25% of Enacted and Enacted Supplement appropriations for Waterfront Revitalization and Municipal Parks are allocated for projects in urban/underserved communities.|
1996 Clean Water/ Clean Air Bond Act:
Since the voters of New York approved the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act in 1996, it has supported the funding of priority projects to restore brownfields, ensure safe drinking water, reduce air and water pollution, and support local landfill closure and recycling efforts. For SFY 2002-03, the legislature appropriated the remaining $212.4 million from the Bond Act, bringing life-to-date appropriations up to the total authorization of $1.75 billion.
In the 2002-03 Enacted Budget, the Assembly secured $5 million from the Bond Act for a new diesel-fueled school bus retrofit program to help clean the air and protect the health of schoolchildren. This important initiative will fund a pilot program for retrofitting diesel school bus engines with emission-reducing technologies such as particulate traps or filters and catalytic converters for the purposes of reducing emissions of particulate matter, hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and other toxic air pollutants.
The following table details Bond Act appropriations made for SFY 2002-03.
1996-97 - 01-02
|Safe Drinking Water||$355.0||$285.0||$70.0|
|Long Island Sound||$200.0||$164.2||$21.0|
|New York Harbor||$25.0||$23.5||$1.1|
|State Facility Comp.||$25.0||$23.1||$1.9|
|Small muni wastewater||$50.0||$47.4||$2.6|
|Clean Air for Schools||$125.0||$125.0|||
Unfortunately, the Enacted Budget did not include any new funding for Superfund projects, despite the fact that the Superfund has been bankrupt since March 2001, leaving hundreds of contaminated sites without funding for investigations and/or clean-ups. The Governor's proposal included a $138 million pay-as-you-go program tied to weakened clean-up standards. This inadequate proposal would stretch the timeframe to clean-up known hazardous over 20-25 years. In April, the Assembly passed A.11048 (DiNapoli), which would continue the Superfund as a bonded program and provide $200 million annually to clean-up these hazardous waste sites, including the more than 250 "substance" sites which are currently ineligible for Superfund financing, over an accelerated 10-year time table.
The Budget process was also unsuccessful in the development of a comprehensive brownfields program. Brownfields across the state sit idle in our cities, unused because of the stigma of potential contamination from past industrial and commercial uses. The Assembly has advocated for clean-up goals which aim for a permanent clean-up solution for brownfields which includes removal of all contamination to the greatest extent feasible and cost-effective rather than relying on physical barriers such as a layer of clean soil, pavement or fences to protect our children from exposure to toxic chemicals. The Assembly worked in earnest to negotiate such a program with the Executive and Senate but was unable to offer an invitation to industry to build on or pave a brownfield site in the name of "redevelopment" and a gift of a liability release, without any attempt by industry to clean the site.
The most immediate concern is refinancing Superfund and this should have been the least contentious. The Governor was unwilling to consider addressing the immediate need to provide additional resources to the Superfund program absent any program modifications. The Executive even refused to compromise on a funding level somewhere between the Assembly's accelerated plan and its pay-as-you-go proposal.
The 2002-03 Enacted Budget also contains several provisions relating to the protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources. The budget includes the Executive's proposed sport hunting and fishing license fee increases in order to ensure the continued solvency of the Conservation Fund. The Legislature did not enact the Executive's proposal to allow fourteen and fifteen year olds to hunt big game with a rifle. A new Habitat Account within the Conservation Fund was created which will receive revenues derived from the sale of voluntary habitat stamps to enhance fish and wildlife habitat statewide and improve public access. In addition, the terms and conditions of several license types were modified, including the establishment of a new super-sportsman license.
Other Budget Issues
The Legislature accepted the Governor's proposed pesticide applicator fee increases with modifications to minimize their impact on farmers. In addition, the Assembly was successful in adding statutory guidance to ensure that monies from this revenue source will be available for ground water monitoring to protect vulnerable drinking water sources such as Long Island.
Agreement was also reached on extending the existing surf clam/ocean quahog fee for 4 years, provided that the DEC will be required to conduct two stock assessments during such time period. The first such assessment is to be completed by December 31, 2002, with the second to be completed two years later in an area to be determined in consultation with the surf clam/ocean quahog advisory board.
Ensuring the success of the Hudson River Valley Greenway. The Hudson River Valley Greenway was created in 1991 to serve as a regional planning body providing assistance to communities interested in preserving and expanding the unique scenic, natural, cultural and recreational resources of the Hudson Valley Region. This new law extends a key provision in the Act creating the Greenway which provides participating communities with indemnity against lawsuits brought as a result of land purchases, land use controls or amendments pursuant to the Compact, until December 31, 2007. This indemnity provision has proven to be important in encouraging communities to purchase lands and has been cited as an important tool for attracting new communities to join the Greenway. Chapter 138 of the Laws of 2002; A.10366 (DiNapoli)
Creating a cancer mapping program. This bill directs the DEC and the Department of Health to use computer mapping to perform epidemiological health studies, the purpose of which would be to determine the correlation between the locations of hazardous waste disposal sites and the incidence of cancer among the people living near those sites. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.404-B (Brodsky)
Environmental Justice. For the ninth consecutive year the Assembly passed legislation that would establish "environmental justice" for minority and low-income communities. Environmental justice is the application of the fundamental American concept of equal justice under the law to governmental decisions regarding the siting of potentially harmful facilities. This bill would require, as part of an environmental impact statement required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act, a detailed statement on whether or not the action of concern would cause a disproportionate or inequitable burden on minority communities or economically distressed areas. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.471 (Brodsky)
Encouraging small businesses to achieve compliance with environmental laws. This bill would require the DEC to establish, develop, and implement a small business pollution prevention and environmental compliance assistance program for all environmental media (air, water, land). Current law requires such a program for air issues only. Many small businesses lack the financial means or technical expertise to effectively achieve pollution prevention and compliance with environmental laws. The mechanisms created under this bill would provide small businesses with the information and assistance necessary to successfully administer their pollution prevention and environmental compliance programs. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.6287-A (Koon)
Protecting communities from incompatible mining developments. Under current law, the DEC is allowed to process mining applications even when such mining activity violates local zoning laws or ordinances. This bill would ensure that local communities maintain control over mining activities within their borders by prohibiting state agencies from considering an application for a mining permit if local zoning prohibits mining uses in the proposed area. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.59 (John)
Protecting public health and groundwater near mines and reclamation projects. The potential environmental impacts associated with the use of construction and demolition debris as fill for mining and reclamation purposes have prompted many communities to regulate this practice within their borders. Odor and groundwater problems have been linked to the improper disposal of construction and demolition debris. Existing law allows the DEC to issue permits for the utilization of construction and demolition debris as fill for mining projects without the approval of local government. This bill would give localities the ability to protect themselves from the environmental impacts associated with the disposal of construction and demolition debris by prohibiting the use of such materials as fill without local approval. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.5199 (Englebright)
Refinancing the State Superfund program. At present, there are no longer funds available from the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act to support hazardous waste remediation projects. Without refinancing the Superfund, there are no funds to pay existing staff, complete ongoing projects, start new projects or respond to emergencies. This bill would establish a comprehensive, 10-year plan that would include bonding of $200 million annually to enable the investigation and clean up of the almost 800 known hazardous sites across the State, including the more than 250 "substance" sites which are currently ineligible for Superfund financing. The bill would dramatically expedite the clean up of contaminated sites in order to protect the environment and surrounding communities from the health risks caused by cleanup delays. Furthermore, the bill maintains the program as a bonded program, guaranteeing an immediate and dedicated funding source to ensure that the Superfund program does not come to a halt now or in the future. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.11048 (DiNapoli)
Protecting children from exposure to arsenic. The potential for wood treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) to leach arsenic and hexavalent chromium, which have been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as known human carcinogens, has raised concern over the safety of this type of treated wood. Recently, the EPA reached a voluntary agreement with the wood preserving industry to phase out the use of CCA after December 31, 2003. This new law focuses on protecting children from exposure to arsenic by prohibiting public entities from constructing structures on public playgrounds using CCA-treated lumber. The new law also requires public entities to maintain playground structures and ground cover in a manner which minimizes exposure to potential CCA contamination. Furthermore, the DEC will be required to compile and publish information regarding the dangers and hazards of CCA-treated lumber, alternatives to CCA-treated lumber, and non-toxic methods and materials that are available to adequately maintain playground structures to minimize the leaching of CCA. Chapter 521 of the Laws of 2002; A.10221-A (Koon)
Reducing mercury in the waste stream. Mercury is now recognized by the scientific community as one of the most persistent bioaccumulative toxins in the environment. While many sources of mercury have been regulated or eliminated over the past two decades, the use of this toxic metal in dental practices in the form of mercury amalgam has increased. Mercury waste generated in dental practices is often disposed of in traditional means (e.g. down the drain), allowing it to enter the waste stream unchecked. This new law will prohibit the use of elemental mercury in the practice of dentistry unless such mercury is encapsulated in appropriate capsules specifically designed for the mixing of dental amalgam. In addition, dentists will be required to recycle all elemental mercury, including pre-encapsulated mercury capsule waste and dental amalgam waste. Chapter 506 of the Laws of 2002; A.10707-B (DiNapoli)
Encouraging the recycling, reuse and remanufacturing of electronic equipment. Discarded electronic equipment now makes up the fastest growing sector of New York's waste stream. Such antiquated electronic equipment often consist of a variety of mechanical and electrical components, many of which contain environmentally hazardous substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and PCBs. This bill recognizes the need to keep these dangerous substances out of landfills, by providing for the standardization of the emerging electronic equipment recycling and remanufacturing industry. Specifically, the bill would require the DEC to develop rules and regulations establishing standards for the recycling, reuse and remanufacturing of electronic equipment by persons or entities operating sites designed for such activities. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.10147 (Colton)
Assisting small generators of hazardous waste. Recent studies indicate that a significant number of small generators of hazardous waste (as many as 25%) in New York State remain outside the regulatory system. These small quantity generators often cite lack of knowledge of the regulations and lack of information on how to interpret and comply with these regulations as reasons for their non-compliance. This bill would ensure that small generators are properly informed and able to comply with hazardous waste storage and disposal regulations by establishing a small quantity generator education and compliance program for firms that generate small quantities of hazardous waste. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.2695 (Morelle)
Pesticides are used in virtually every facet of people's lives, and people are oftentimes unknowingly exposed to them. Common everyday uses include mosquito control, pest control in schools, restaurants and homes, and eradication of undesirable plant species. Pesticides continue to be widely used, despite potential health risks and concerns. The Committee considered several pieces of legislation aimed at preventing unnecessary exposure to some of these substances.
Creating a State Urban Pesticide Board. This bill would create a ten member urban pesticide board within the DEC to investigate the proliferation of pesticides in urban areas. Recent reports have revealed the widespread use of pesticides in urban areas of the State. A 1997 report found that more than one quarter of all pesticides used in the State were applied in New York City. The board created by this bill would examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning the sale, use and application of pesticides in urban areas. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.1746-D (Wright)
Phasing out the use of pesticides by the State. This bill would provide for the implementation of a policy to discontinue the use of pesticides by all state agencies, public authorities, and public benefit corporations and would require the adoption of a pest control policy that substantially relies on non-chemical pest controls. New York State agencies and authorities and their contractors use pesticides that are known to contaminate ground and surface water, cause reproductive or developmental defects, and are often toxic and/or carcinogenic to humans. Restriction of pesticide use by the State will not only prevent the harmful environmental and health effects of these chemicals but may also save taxpayers money. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.483-A (Brodsky)
Banning highly concentrated DEET products. This bill would ban the sale or distribution of products intended for use on humans which contain concentrations of the insect repellant N,N-diethyl-m touamide (trade name "DEET") which are greater than 30 percent. Numerous studies have shown that products containing high concentrations of DEET to be harmful to humans. With the 1995 administrative repeal of the DEC's regulations restricting the sale of high concentrations of DEET, it is necessary for the health and well-being of the citizens of New York State to statutorily restrict access to high concentrations of this chemical. This legislation does not ban the sale of DEET completely, only in more dangerous, and not necessarily more effective, high concentration formulas. This bill would help protect consumers while recognizing the validity of concerns about pest-related diseases, as well as health concerns about the toxicity of DEET. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.439 (Brodsky)
Authorizing cities to ban the taking of pigeons with poisonous substances. This bill would allow cities to enact local laws to outlaw the poisoning of pigeons. The use of poisons to deal with pigeon population problems is unnecessary and potentially dangerous in densely populated communities. Aside from the inhumane suffering to birds caused as a direct result of the use of poisons, children and non target animals can easily be exposed to the poisons currently being used. There are many humane alternative methods to control pigeon populations which do not pose any threat to children and/or non-target animals. This legislation presents any city with the option of banning this inefficient and unsafe practice. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.251 (Grannis)
Perhaps more pervasive than any other form of pollution, air pollution's effects are widespread and have no boundaries when contaminating the water and land. Acid rain and related nitrogen based air pollution degrade ecosystems in the Adirondack Park and ruin aquatic systems in Long Island Sound. The dangers to human health as a result of airborne contaminants are equally serious. Childhood asthma is a serious concern throughout the state, especially in urban areas, and airborne contamination can also lead to adult health problems. The challenge of stemming existing air pollution as well as preventing new air pollution will continue to be a formidable task.
Addressing air quality concerns in Lower Manhattan in the wake of September 11. This bill would help address concerns raised in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 relating to the hundreds of diesel engines and diesel-powered trucks in use each day at the ground zero site as well as other areas of the city with a high incidence of asthma. These air quality concerns must be addressed in order to protect public health and ensure the stability and resurgence of the residential and business community. This bill would require the DEC to adopt regulations requiring the use of low-sulfur diesel fuel in counties of the State designated as being in non-attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for particulate matter. It has been estimated that this action would reduce emissions of particulate matter by 40 percent at the ground zero site. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.10130 (Silver)
Addressing the health threat posed by the combustion of gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil. Emissions from engines that burn these high sulfur fuels contribute greatly to the poor air quality that millions of New Yorkers breathe. The burning of high sulfur fuels has been linked to a host of health impacts, ranging from premature death to aggravation of asthma and allergy symptoms. This bill would prohibit the manufacture and sale of diesel fuel or home heating oil with a concentration of sulfur greater than fifteen parts per million, effective December 31, 2005 and the sale of motor vehicle gasoline with a concentration of sulfur greater than thirty parts per million, effective October 1, 2005. By mandating the use of low-sulfur fuels, this bill would achieve immediate reductions in tailpipe emissions which would result in improved air quality statewide. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.11027-A Rules (DiNapoli)
Capping mercury emissions into the air. This bill would establish caps for mercury emissions from power plants and incinerators in New York State. Mercury's toxicity is well-known and has been linked to impairment of the nervous system, kidney and heart function, and neonatal brain damage. The bill aims to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and incinerators by 90-percent before January 2007. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.5203 (Grannis)
Prohibiting the open burning of solid waste. This bill would prohibit the open burning of residential solid waste. Current regulations allow for the open burning of solid waste in communities with less than 20,000 people. Unfortunately this practice is becoming more prominent in some communities, with resulting degradation of air quality and negative health effects, particularly on those with breathing difficulties. A recent United States Environmental Protection Agency report, prepared with the cooperation of the NYS Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation, found that one household burn barrel is capable of emitting amounts of airborne dioxin and other toxic pollutants equivalent to those given off by a small (200 ton per day) modern, well-controlled municipal incinerator. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.7202 (Koon)
Reducing emissions from power plants. This bill, commonly referred to as the "four pollutant-bill", would require the DEC to promulgate emergency regulations relating to power plant emissions. Specifically, the bill would mandate reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and mercury emissions. These reductions would help to alleviate health impacts associated with power plant emissions which are linked to increased incidences of asthma attacks, respiratory related hospitalizations and premature deaths. In addition, reductions in NOx and SO2 would result in decreased formation of acid rain, which degrades the natural environment, particularly sensitive areas such as the woodlands, lakes and streams of the Adirondacks, Catskills, the Long Island Sound and Hudson Highlands. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.5577-C (Brodsky)
Commercial and recreational marine fisheries constitute a significant portion of New York's economic base. Recently, however, many marine species have declined due to over-fishing, point and non-point source pollution, and loss of habitat. In order to promote the recovery and ensure the long-term health and abundance the marine fisheries resources and habitat, significant management measures are needed. The Committee worked diligently towards these ends.
Providing the DEC with tools to better manage the State's marine fisheries. This new law will provide the Department with regulatory authority for the management of whelk or conch, and squid until December 31, 2003. This will allow DEC to establish appropriate regulations consistent with the Federal Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for squid which is essential to providing uniform protection for the resource. This new law will authorize the sale of lobster landing permits to residents of the State not eligible to obtain commercial lobster permits. At present, the DEC issues three commercial lobster permits: resident and non-resident harvest/possession/landing permits and a non-resident landing-only permit. This prevents New York lobstermen who fish and catch lobsters outside of State waters (e.g., in federal waters) from landing their catch in New York. This imposes a hardship on these New York lobstermen which this new law will correct. Chapter 589 of the Laws of 2002; A.11254 Rules (DiNapoli)
Protecting the State's lobster fishing industry. Operators of boats and vessels who fail to properly stow their tow-chains while not in use can cause damage to navigational buoys, lobster traps, private property, and other warning devices that protect public safety on the water. Lobstermen have reported losses due to the operation of tug boats in this manner. This new law places the responsibility of properly stowing tow-chains and other towing devices on the operators of these boats and vessels to prevent property damage and improve safety. Chapter 209 of the Laws of 2002; A.8643 Rules (DiNapoli)
Protecting the State's monkfish fishery. This new law will protect the viability of the State's monkfish resource by granting the DEC the authority to implement measures consistent with the federal Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for monkfish. The monkfish fishery is under greater pressure in New York waters as a result of over-fishing and increasing scarcity in federal waters. This new law will allow the DEC to adopt consistent regulations to protect the species in State waters. Chapter 173 of the Laws of 2002; A.11743 Rules (Sweeney)
Protecting the State's bay scallop fishery. This new law will assist in the enforcement of fishery laws relating to the taking and possession of bay scallops. Prior to enactment of this law, the prohibition for taking bay scallops extended from March 31 to the first Monday in October, while the prohibition for the possession of bay scallops extended from March 31 to September 15. This new law will make the prohibition period for the possession of bay scallops for sale for food consistent with that of the season for taking scallops. This prohibition does not apply to bay scallops shucked and packed in approved packages and frozen, and thereafter kept in a frozen state. Chapter 130 of the Laws of 2002; A.451 (Brodsky)
Prohibiting the use of trawls with attached weights. This bill would prohibit metallic weights on trawl nets (commonly known as "rollers" or "cookies") and only allow the use of non-metallic rollers of four inches in diameter or less to protect the ground wires of trawl nets. This bill seeks to protect underwater habitat from damage created by bottom trawls. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.8421 (Sweeney)
Restricting the use of gill nets in Great South Bay. This bill would increase protection for New York's weakfish populations by extending the current prohibition on the use of gill or trammel nets in the waters of the Great South Bay for four weeks. Designed to protect roe-laden weakfish entering the Bay to spawn, the current period of closure is from May first until May thirty-first. Unfortunately, it has been found that many spawning weakfish enter the Bay in April, at least two weeks before the netting prohibition goes into effect. This bill would extend the closure from April fifteenth until June fifteenth west of the line between Blue Point and Water Island. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.8422 (Sweeney)
New York's Wildlife and Fisheries are a valuable source of recreation and economic activity. The sale of hunting and fishing gear is a significant source of revenue, and people from all over the world travel to New York so that they may hunt, fish, and view wildlife. The wildlife and freshwater fisheries must be managed for preservation and protected from degradation. The Committee recognizes this need and has passed legislation to further ensure the protection of the wildlife and fisheries of New York.
Protecting the State's waterfowl from lead poisoning. Numerous studies and long term monitoring programs have documented the threat small lead fishing sinkers pose to New York's waterfowl, especially loons. Waterfowl ingest small pebbles to aid in digestion and they often swallow small, round fishing sinkers as well, mistaking them for stones. This new law will prevent the untimely death of countless loons and other waterfowl by eliminating a significant source of lead contamination in New York's waterways. Specifically, this act prohibits the retail sale of lead fishing sinkers weighing one-half ounce or less and requires the DEC to provide notice of such prohibition in the state fishing regulations guide. In addition to protecting waterfowl, this new law protects young anglers from lead exposure associated with the use of small lead fishing sinkers. The wide availability of cost-competitive alternatives to lead sinkers made from materials such as steel and tin ensures the success of the conversion to less toxic sinkers mandated by this legislation. Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2002; A.8683 Rules (Englebright)
Managing the State's deer herd. This new law will enhance the Department's ability to manage the white-tailed deer populations of the State by expanding their regulatory authority to manage deer in the Southern Tier, and Central and Western regions of the State. In addition, this new law will provide additional opportunities for the taking of deer for herd control purposes by allowing hunters to transfer unfilled Deer Management permits to other properly licensed hunters and by allowing hunters to assist and/or supervise other hunters after they have filled all of their valid deer tags. Chapter 154 of the Laws of 2002; A.11166 Rules (Magee)
Ensuring professional and qualified nuisance wildlife control and promoting non-lethal methods of control. As the demand for nuisance wildlife control grows throughout the suburbs, cities and rural areas of the State, the need for professional, qualified and properly trained operators has become evident. This new law will ensure that nuisance wildlife control operators meet certain basic licensing standards and receive proper training developed by the DEC before obtaining a license. This legislation also requires nuisance wildlife control training to include instruction on alternative and non-lethal methods of control and that each licensed operator submit an annual report to the DEC. Chapter 265 of the Laws of 2002; A.9599 Magee
Expanding the membership of the New York State Fish and Wildlife Management Board. In their pursuit of enhancing fish and wildlife conservation efforts and improving public recreational access to wildlife, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board has consistently worked with the Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRH) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Recently, the Board has worked extensively with the OPRH in its efforts to establish hunting opportunities in state parks and with the DOT to increase roadside parking areas and increased public access to water bodies. This new law will increase the efficiency of the Board by expanding the membership of the Board to include the Commissioner of Transportation and the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as formal advisory board members. Chapter 552 of the Laws of 2002; A.10685 DiNapoli
Protecting the State's freshwater fisheries. This bill would protect the viability of the State's freshwater fisheries by prohibiting the commercialization of freshwater fish taken under the privileges of a sportfishing license. This bill would prohibit the sale of fish taken pursuant to the privileges of a New York State recreational fishing license or any similar recreational or sportfishing license issued outside of the State. This measure would prevent overharvest of unprotected fish (those not subject to minimum size limits or a closed season) and eliminate conflicts between recreational and commercial anglers. New York remains one of only four states where recreational anglers are allowed to sell certain species of freshwater fish for profit. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.11239 Rules (Magee)
Asserting the State's public trust interest in fishing navigable waters. This bill would assert that the State holds in public trust the right to fish in all navigable waters of the State. The need for such assertion has arisen out of recent litigation involving an individual's attempt to prohibit the public from fishing in water that he contends he owns and controls. The right to fish in New York is impressed with the public trust and the prohibition of such right should require the direct and specific approval of the legislature. The legislature has expressly chosen to limit such right only via licensing requirements or taking limitations designed to insure continuing viability of fish as a natural resource of the State and accessibility to this valuable resource for all residents and visitors. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.246 (Grannis)
Improving boating safety on New York State's waters. This new law will serve to reduce boating accidents by authorizing enforcement personnel to terminate voyages of vessels operating under an unsafe condition. The fact that most boating accidents result from unsafe vessel operation or unsafe vessel condition highlights the need to further the abilities of enforcement officers to protect the boating public from reckless and negligent operators. This new law will authorize police officers and peace officers to terminate operation of vessels observed to be operating in violation of the navigation law in a manner in which it would be so imminently hazardous to continue to operate such vessel as to be likely to cause an accident or physical injury. Conditions in which an officer would be allowed to terminate operation include operating in an overloaded condition; failing to display navigation lights; being operated by a person without a boating safety certificate; or operating with insufficient personal flotation devices, firefighting equipment or visual distress signals. Chapter 473 of the Laws of 2002; A.3009-C (Weisenberg)
Enhancing the protection of the Central Pine Barrens. The Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission was created by the Legislature in 1993 to prepare and administer a land use plan for the protection and responsible development of the 100,000 acre Central Pine Barrens Preserve located in Suffolk County. This bill would enhance the ability of the Commission to implement and administer its recently adopted land use plan by establishing penalties and enforcement actions for violations of orders, permits, rules and regulations issued under the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act. The bill provides for a civil penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars and for the suspension of processing and reviewing of an application where a violation is pending against the applicant. The Governor vetoed this bill citing concerns over the method of assessing penalties and the Attorney General's increased role in enforcement of the Pine Barrens Act. While ensuring local involvement is laudable, the original Act was created to protect the overall public's interest in protecting the Pine Barrens ecosystem. This unique and fragile ecosystem is of statewide significance, and as such, the State's chief environmental enforcement officer should have the ability and authority to bring action against violators. This bill passed the Assembly and the Senate, but was vetoed by the Governor. Veto Message No.46 - A.11744 Rules (DiNapoli)
Discouraging major violations of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). Summary Abatement Orders (SAO) are issued by the DEC in severe cases where there is a major threat to public health or the environment. Existing statutory penalties for violation of an SAO are extremely low given the fact such orders are only used to address the most grievous environmental violations. This bill would increase the maximum civil penalty for violation of an SAO from $2,500 to $25,000 for the initial violation and from $500 to $25,000 for each day the violation continues. The bill also provides for injunctive relief, revocation or suspension of a permit or certificate, and denial of pending renewal applications for violations of the ECL where the penalty is not otherwise specified. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.11165 Rules (DiNapoli)
Facilitating enforcement of environmental laws. Currently, only the DEC and the Attorney General's Office have the authority to initiate enforcement actions under the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). Due to fiscal constraints, these agencies are unable to address all violations of the ECL which threaten public health and the environment. This bill would greatly expand enforcement efforts by allowing private citizens to commence civil judicial actions under certain provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). In addition, this authority will provide citizens with some recourse when state agencies cannot or will not respond to ongoing violations and discourage potential violators. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.455 (Brodsky)
Improving New York State's compliance with its own environmental laws. This bill would require the Department to impose penalties upon agencies which fail to complete a legitimate remediation plan within the projected time frame. This bill makes agencies accountable to the public and allows for action against agencies and their heads for failure to develop and carry through legitimate remedial plans. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.1635 (Grannis)
Guidelines for disqualification of stand-by contractors for environmental concerns. This bill would require the Department to establish guidelines for disqualification of stand-by contractors based on past performance on state contracts; fairness of price charged for past performance; negligence or malfeasance committed during the past performance; and any conviction of a crime which reflects upon the honesty, integrity or capability of a contractor. Current law authorizes establishing guidelines for qualifying stand-by contractors based upon past performance, but not disqualifying them. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.1050 (Luster)
Requiring public participation in certain DEC consent order proceedings. This bill would require the Department to notify municipalities and counties in which an action has occurred and provide them with the opportunity to be parties to any adjudicatory proceeding relating to compliance with water pollution, air pollution, solid or hazardous waste, or pesticide statutory provisions. This bill would also require the Department to hold at least one public hearing prior to entering into, amending, modifying or terminating a consent order relating to compliance with said provisions. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.1052 (Luster)
The Solid Waste Management Act of 1988 establishes New York State's solid waste management system: the reduction, reuse, recycling, and disposal of solid waste. The Solid Waste Management Act encourages municipalities to make significant progress in reducing the amount of solid waste generation. Additional legislation described below was passed by the Committee in order to further these goals.
Establishing a comprehensive waste tire management program. It is estimated that there are at least 105 waste tire stockpiles across the State, containing tens of millions of tires. As breeding grounds for mosquitoes and fuel for massive fires which can fill surrounding areas with toxic smoke for days, these stockpiles are environmental and public health disasters waiting to happen. This bill would enact the Waste Tire Management and Recycling Act of 2002, in order to create a funding source and mechanism for abating existing scrap tire stockpiles and develop in-State markets for recycling stockpiled, and newly generated, waste tires. The bill would establish a new dedicated "Waste Tire Management and Recycling Fund" supported by revenues from a per-tire recycling fee at the time of sale. Monies from this fund would be used to eliminate all non-compliant waste tire stockpiles under a comprehensive plan prepared by the DEC, as well as to support State efforts to assist in the development of secondary markets for waste tire reuse and recycling, waste tire product education, research, and capital investments. A.10260-B (Colton)
Enhancing solid waste management. This bill would require an applicant for a permit to construct a solid waste management facility to demonstrate that the facility would be consistent with the objectives of the local solid waste management plan, the planning unit in which the proposed facility is to be sited, and the planning units from which the solid waste is to be received. This would hold new private solid waste facilities to the same standards applied to municipal facilities during the planning process. In addition, this bill would change the definition of solid waste management facility to include recyclable waste handling and recovery facilities. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.5564 (DiNapoli)
Promoting the achievement of statewide solid waste reduction and recycling goals. This bill seeks to prevent the approval of new waste management facilities which would have a negative impact on a municipality's ability to meet statewide solid waste reduction and recycling goals. In addition to existing requirements, a waste management permit would only be issued if the proposed capacity and the projected cost of the disposal facility would have no significant adverse impact upon the municipality's source separation and recycling program or the municipality's achievement of statewide solid waste reduction and recycling goals. In order to determine such impact, the DEC would be required to evaluate the need for any excess capacity and the economic and technical feasibility of recycling those components of solid waste to be disposed of at the proposed facility. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.2183 (John)
Prohibiting negligent solid waste facility operators from receiving permits. It is becoming more common for operators of solid waste management facilities who have had their permit revoked or suspended to attempt to circumvent the permitting process by closing their business and reapplying under a different corporation while maintaining the same employees, management procedures and operating procedures. This bill would authorize the DEC to refuse to issue a permit for a period of two years to a solid waste management facility under Article 27 of the ECL that has had its permission to operate revoked or suspended. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.583-A (Lentol)
Empowering localities to manage solid waste. This bill would empower municipalities to better control land use within their borders by prohibiting the DEC from issuing a permit for a solid waste management facility in an area contrary to the local zoning in effect at the time of the application. Under current law, the DEC is not required to consider local zoning when issuing a permit. Recently, there have been instances where the DEC has issued a permit that is contrary to local zoning ordinances. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.2071 (John)
Enhancing the "Oil Spill Prevention Act". This legislation would protect New York State's waterways and their ecological systems from petroleum spills by requiring the DEC to promulgate rules and regulations designed to strengthen the Oil Spill Prevention Act, thereby reducing the likelihood of future oil spills. The bill requires the DEC to perform a review of a major facility's compliance record prior to relicensing and requires the deployment of containment booms prior to the transfer of petroleum at major onshore facilities under appropriate conditions. The bill would also require petroleum handling facilities to create habitat protection plans and require petroleum pipeline corporations to provide the DEC with maps and other information regarding the location of all liquid petroleum pipelines owned by such corporation for integration into the Department's geographic information system. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.5627 (DiNapoli)
Detecting accidental discharges. Current law requires "early" detection of discharges. "Early", however, may not be soon enough. Accidental discharges may occur in a short period of time, and they can cause great damage to delicate ecosystems. This bill would prevent such damage and ensure that spills are cleaned up quickly by requiring that major facilities, which store at least 400,000 gallons of petroleum, install devices to detect accidental discharges within twenty-four hours or sooner. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.589 (Lentol)
Neighbor notification of petroleum discharge. This bill would require the DEC, upon being notified of a petroleum spill, to immediately notify adjacent and/or nearby landowners or tenants whose property or drinking water supply might be affected by the discharged material. This legislation was prompted by an incident where several landowners became sick after their drinking water was contaminated by gasoline leaking from a nearby underground storage tank. Many months went by before affected parties were notified of the leak. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.5200 (Englebright)
New York State has vast water resources, including the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, the lakes of the Adirondacks, and the Hudson, Mohawk, and Allegheny Rivers as well as major underground aquifers located on Long Island.
Seven million people living in New York City and upstate depend on the City's reservoir system. The City's water supply comes from three reservoir systems: the Croton reservoir system located in Westchester, Dutchess, and Putnam Counties, and the Catskill and Delaware reservoir system located in Ulster, Greene, Schoharie, Delaware, and Sullivan Counties. The quality of the City's drinking water is precarious because droughts are frequent, the infrastructure of the delivery system is aging, and pollution threatens many of the City's drinking water supplies. In 2002, New York City's reservoir system suffered from below normal precipitation throughout the year. Nine counties in the Catskills were plagued by a drought watch, while Rockland and Westchester counties experienced drought warnings.
Every effort should be made to maintain the purity of lake waters for recreational and other public uses. The protection and preservation of water quality is essential to the environment, economy, and health of New Yorkers.
Allowing the State to access funding to help municipalities address sewer overflows. This new law will amend the Public Authorities Law to allow the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to accept Federal Wet Weather Water Quality grants which have been authorized, but not yet appropriated. Upon appropriation of these funds by the Federal government, the State would be able to access approximately $82 million dollars to address combined sewer overflow and sanitary sewer overflow problems. Chapter 410 of the Laws of 2002; A.11167-A Rules (DiNapoli)
Protecting Greenwood Lake and its watershed. This new law will create an 11 member bi-state commission between the states of New York and New Jersey to ensure the protection of the unique natural, scenic, and recreational resources of Greenwood Lake and its watershed. This commission will assess present and projected development, land use, land management practices and patterns and environmental threats in the Greenwood Lake watershed; recommend regulations and appropriate state legislation; and coordinate environmental cleanup, maintenance and protection efforts undertaken. The State of New Jersey has already enacted similar legislation. Chapter 47 of the Laws of 2002; A.10092-A (Gunther)
Providing for effective and efficient water resources management. Several provisions of section 15-0314 of the ECL relating to certain water conservation requirements for plumbing fixtures have been duplicated, and therefore, pre-empted by federal law. This new law will ensure that the DEC does not perform duplicative responsibilities, allowing the Department to conserve and reassign staff resources by eliminating work associated with a supplementary program now regulated by the federal government. Chapter 161 of the Laws of 2002; A.11168-A Rules (Gianaris)
Streamlining the financing of clean water projects. This new law will extend the authority allowing municipalities to issue bonds or notes evidencing installment loans to the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) in order to obtain financing for clean water projects from the CWSRF. Specifically, this new law will allow municipalities to continue issuing "grid notes" which cover each installment in a single note, thereby lowering borrowing costs and paperwork. Chapter 339 of the Laws of 2002; A.11163-A Rules (Cymbrowitz)
Promoting the reuse of reclaimed wastewater. While New York State is generally considered water rich, the need to conserve and efficiently use this valuable resource cannot be understated as we look toward the future. This bill would encourage water conservation by requiring the DEC, in conjunction with the Department of Health, to promulgate regulations regarding the use of reclaimed wastewater and gray water. Communities throughout the country have successfully designed and implemented wastewater reclamation and reuse projects. The bill would require DEC to promulgate rules and regulations containing provisions providing for permitted uses of reclaimed wastewater, water quality and pathogens monitoring requirements and treatment facility operational requirements. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.11028-A Rules (DiNapoli)
Protecting the State's water bodies from the spread of exotic aquatic species. Many of New York's water bodies have become infested with harmful invasive exotic aquatic species such as Zebra Mussels, Eurasian Water milfoil and Water Chestnut. These exotics can disrupt aquatic ecosystems and degrade recreational opportunities. This bill seeks to control the spread of such species to water bodies which are not contaminated by requiring public and commercial docks, piers, wharfs and boat launch areas on water bodies infested with harmful invasive aquatic species to be posted with a clear, conspicuous sign warning boaters of their occurrence and that appropriate precautions should be taken to avoid transporting such species to other water bodies. Similar signs would be required at water bodies found to be free of exotic species warning boaters to take care not to transport such species into the water body. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.11437 Rules (DiNapoli)
Encouraging watershed protection. Over the last ten years, the State has participated in numerous watershed or regional basin-wide planning approaches to water quality issues with significant local government and public participation. This bill would encourage municipalities to commence similar projects by authorizing the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to provide loans at a zero percent rate of interest from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF) for the purposes of acquiring interests in land as part of a watershed management plan. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.9204-A Rules (DiNapoli)
Allowing not-for-profit corporations to receive low-interest CWSRF loans for watershed protection. Many not-for-profit corporations, such as land trusts, lack the capital resources to purchase land for watershed protection efforts and, therefore, are dependent on loans. In many cases, these entities will purchase and hold property on a temporary basis on behalf of the State. These not-for-profits are often unable to secure low-interest loans from traditional sources in order to close on land purchases while waiting for reimbursement from the State. This bill would allow not-for-profits to receive low-interest loans from the CWSRF for the purpose of acquiring open space for watershed protection. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.9209 Rules (Brodsky)
Protecting groundwater. This bill would expand the prohibition against discharge of any substance which would lead to the contamination of a sole source aquifer by specifying the actions which would define "the indirect or direct discharge" of organic or inorganic matter into any waters of the State or into waters constituting or lying above a sole source aquifer. Most notably, the bill would include seepage over time as a discharge. The need for this clarification became apparent in State v. Schenectady Chemicals, Inc. (1984) where the court held that the term "discharge" required some active human conduct as opposed to mere seepage over the course of time. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.410 (Brodsky)
New York's Forest Preserve is well established as a unique and time honored asset of statewide environmental importance. Since 1894, the state has decreed in its constitution that the Forest Preserve shall remain "forever wild". The vast land and forest resources of the state are overseen by DEC, as well as a variety of groups such as the Hudson River Valley Greenway. Pressures to develop private and public forest and open space will grow in years to come as populations increase and as suburbs move further away from metropolitan areas. The Committee worked extensively to protect New York's natural areas and ecological resources.
Conserving and managing the State's biological diversity. From the bays of Long Island to the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, New York State is home to a rich array of plant and animal life. Since 1985, the New York Natural Heritage Program has engaged in the task of compiling and maintaining systematic information on the State's native rare plants and animals and significant ecological communities so that they may be protected. This new law will authorize the head of a state agency or entity, under the auspices of the New York Natural Heritage Program, to designate Natural Heritage Areas on State lands and waters to further the purpose of conserving and managing these important natural resources. This new law will also clarify the authority of state agencies or entities to designate New York state bird conservation areas (BCAs) and provide that property designated as a Natural Heritage Area or BCA shall not be removed from its respective program without public notice and comment. Chapter 214 of the Laws of 2002; A.10385-A (Englebright)
Ensuring environmentally responsible bluestone mining exploration. The nature of bluestone mining exploration requires extensive removal of material to determine the viability of a deposit. In addition, many sites which are explored are often illegally mined and vacated without being reclaimed. This new law establishes a new authorization for bluestone mining exploration in order to promote environmental responsibility in the bluestone mining industry. An applicant will be required to provide the DEC with a map of the area to be affected and a statement of measures to be taken to control erosion of sediment and contamination of groundwater. The new law also provides for measures to ensure conformity with local zoning and the proper reclamation of mines. Chapter 262 of the Laws of 2002; A.7446-C (Gunther)
Preserving open space. In order to further the State's land preservation goals, this bill would require the State Land Acquisition Advisory Council to determine whether State owned land proposed for sale has any value that would deem it worthy of resource protection by the State. In the absence of such a provision, some of New York's most precious open space may be lost to hasty and short-sighted transactions that ignore the efforts of the acquisition plan and the Council to preserve its most valuable land resources. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.506 (Brodsky)
Protecting state-owned natural resources. Since its inception in 1995, the adopt-a-natural resource program, which allows volunteers to preserve and maintain state-owned resources under an agreement with DEC, has facilitated the completion of numerous beneficial stewardship projects. Recently, however, instances have emerged where volunteers performed work which was incompatible with the protection of the natural resource. This bill seeks to eliminate the possibility of environmental damage by prohibiting stewardship agreements that authorize the destruction or alteration of natural resources in a manner inconsistent with state law. The bill would also prevent the use of heavy construction equipment to construct, refurbish or build projects pursuant to a stewardship agreement and require the DEC to provide public notice of proposed stewardship agreements in the State Environmental Notice Bulletin. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.5699-A (Englebright)
William B. Hoyt River Access Fund. This bill would create a new account within the forest preserve expansion fund which would be utilized for the acquisition of river access, easements and land adjacent to rivers. The fund would be named after the late William B. Hoyt, a former Assemblyman who was an out-spoken advocate of the public's right to access the navigable waters of the State. This bill passed the Assembly, but died in the Senate. A.440 (Brodsky)
The committee held 3 hearings in 2002. These included a follow-up hearing to the November 2001 hearing on air quality and public health issues in Lower Manhattan after September 11; a hearing on reducing diesel exhaust emission in New York State; and a hearing which reviewed the Article X electric generating facility siting approval process.
Air Quality Issues in Lower Manhattan in the Aftermath of September 11, 2001. On April 12, 2002, Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Environmental Conservation Committee and the Committees on Health and Labor held a hearing in New York City to address vital new and ongoing air quality issues in order to protect those who live, work, visit and attend school in Lower Manhattan. Continuing the dialogue opened during the November 2001 hearing, this hearing sought to evaluate the status and efficacy of the air quality monitoring, cleanup, and pubic health protection efforts; address new environmental and health concerns; examine the need for air monitoring, ventilation and other measures in public schools; and determine the importance of reducing diesel emissions from the trucks and equipment operating at Ground Zero. The hearing also revisited the issue raised in the November hearing regarding the difficulty of coordinating the efforts of Federal, State and local agencies to provide adequate responses to concerns raised by the community.
Reducing Diesel Exhaust Emission in New York State. The Committee convened a joint public hearing on this issue with the Legislative Commission on Critical Transportation Choices, in Albany on May 8, 2002. Recent studies have linked diesel exhaust emissions to cancer, heart disease, increased hospital admissions, a rise in the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks and even premature deaths among those suffering from respiratory problems. Starting in 2004, federal emission standards for new heavy-duty trucks and buses will require a 50 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and hydrocarbons which cause soot and smog. A 95 percent reduction of NOx and 90 percent reduction of particulate matter emissions will be required in 2007. The purpose of this hearing was to evaluate the status of the new pollution control devices and alternative fuels being developed to allow heavy-duty vehicles to meet these stringent emission standards. The hearing also explored the State's efforts to reduce diesel exhaust emissions in New York State prior to 2007, and what technology exists or is being developed to reduce diesel exhaust emissions even further.
Review of the Article X Electric Generating Facility Siting Approval Process. The Committee convened a joint public hearing on this issue with the Committees on Energy and Corporations, Authorities & Commissions in Albany on May 13, 2002. Article X of the Public Service Law established the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. This State Siting Board governs the issuance of Certificates of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need which authorize the construction of major electric generating facilities. The purpose of the hearing was to investigate the extent to which the current Article X process has succeeded in ensuring public participation and input in the siting review process, while ensuring a timely approval process.
The Assembly's commitment to preserving New York State's natural resources and protecting the health and well-being of all New Yorkers is fundamental and unwavering. The Committee will continue the Assembly's history of environmental advocacy and achievement by working to enact sound, workable environmental policies in the upcoming 2003 Legislative Session.
Refinancing the New York State Superfund program continues to be one of the Committee's highest priorities. The Governor's proposal is insufficient to meet the needs of the program and weakens cleanup standards. With the Superfund program bankrupt, hundreds of dangerous hazardous waste sites across New York are awaiting clean-up. In 2002, the Assembly recognized the immediate need to refinance the program first and foremost, passing a bill which would provide for the refinancing of the program to be followed by negotiations on programmatic changes. Unfortunately, the Senate and Governor refused to negotiate refinancing and the program remained idle for another year. The Committee will continue to fight for immediate refinancing of the Superfund program in 2003.
The Committee will continue to push for a fair and environmentally-responsible brownfields policy. The Assembly views addressing the brownfields issue as an environmental necessity, with economic revitalization as a desired partner. The Governor and Senate seemed to be concerned primarily with the creation of an economic development program. The Committee is hopeful that this gap is not insurmountable. We will, however, continue to fight for a program which provides for the cleanest remedies, considering technological feasibility and cost-effectiveness. The Committee will not support granting a party liability release from the State for an industrial level clean-up unless that party has actually engaged in cleanup activity at the site and looks at whether a better clean-up was both feasible and cost-effective.
While we can and should celebrate the restoration of Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) appropriations for 2002-03, we must prepare for an even more challenging budget battle next year. With a multi-billion dollar budget deficit likely, we will have to continue to fight for this dedicated stream of funding for the environment. The Committee will also fight to ensure that the EPF is used for traditional purposes.
Air pollution continues to be a problem in New York, and the Committee will consider legislation to reduce toxic pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), mercury, particulate matter and carbon dioxide (CO2). The Committee is very concerned with the effects of poor air quality on children, especially those living in urban areas. Reducing diesel emissions and other air pollution sources which have been shown to increase asthma incidence in children, will remain a top priority of the Committee. The Committee will also continue to monitor air quality concerns at ground zero as the rebuilding process begins.
The Committee will once again focus on protecting the State's water quality. After considering several pieces of legislation designed to protect groundwater, encourage water conservation and promote safe drinking water projects during 2002, the Committee is ready to continue to work toward its goal of developing a progressive approach to water quality issues.
Ensuring the long-term health and abundance of New York State's fish and wildlife populations has long been a priority for the Committee. The Committee will continue to consider legislation to effectively manage the State's wildlife and improve hunter safety. Similarly, the Committee will continue to act to protect the State's marine fisheries resources and habitat.
The Committee will also consider numerous measures to deal with the State's solid waste issues and to reduce exposure to harmful substances. The Committee will look at measures to increase the percentage of the waste stream diverted for recycling, including initiatives which would encourage the recycling of electronic equipment and waste tires. These measures would also reduce sources of toxins entering the environment and will compliment additional legislation to be considered by the committee which would reduce exposure to mercury, lead and other pesticides.
Summary of Action on All Bills Referred to the Committee on
|Bills Reported With or Without Amendment|
|Bills Having Committee Reference Changed||0||0||0|
|Senate Bills Substituted or Recalled|
|Bills Defeated in Committee||0||0||0|
|Bills Never Reported, Held or Died in Committee||283||18||301|
|Bills Having Enacting Clause Stricken||1||0||1|
|Motion to Discharge Lost||0||0||0|
|TOTAL BILLS IN COMMITTEE||397||27||424|
|TOTAL NUMBER OF COMMITTEE MEETINGS HELD||10|
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION BILLS WHICH PASSED BOTH HOUSES AS OF DECEMBER, 2002
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION BILLS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY ONLY
New York State Assembly
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