There are other issues at stake in Albany this week besides New York City’s rent laws and tax credits for developers. Members of the State Caucus of Environmental Legislators are calling for the passage of six “key” bills before the end of the regular legislative session.
The Environmental Caucus, chaired by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh of Manhattan, is made up of state senators and assembly members, and describes itself as “nonpartisan.” Each of the bills backed by members of the Caucus has both Republican and Democratic sponsors, and most have advanced in one or both houses.
Community Solar Program
(Paulin/Griffo, A07964/S5841 – In Assembly Energy Committee, in Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee)
This bill would create a pilot program allowing electric corporations to offer subscriptions for solar power.
Many New Yorkers are interested in improving the environment and protecting electric system reliability through the use of solar energy, but up-front costs and space limitations prevent many from owning or leasing their own solar energy systems.
Child Safe Products Act
(Englebright/Boyle, A05612/S4102 – Passed Assembly, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee)
This bill would require the state Department of Environmental Conservation to publish a list of chemicals found in items meant for children that pose a risk to human health. Manufacturers of children’s products would be required to notify retailers when the merchandise they are selling contains one of the listed chemicals.
Sale of children’s products that contain the most harmful chemicals would be banned.
Microbead-Free Waters Act
(Schimel/O’Mara, A05896/S3932 – Passed Assembly, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee)
This bill would ban the sale or distribution of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads, which are micro-sized pieces of plastic found in some facial and body wash products that slip through municipal water treatment plants and into bodies of water throughout the state.
The beads enter the food chain where they can be mistaken for food by fish and they are capable of absorbing toxins that pose a serious threat to human health and wildlife.
Hazardous Waste Loophole Bill
(Englebright/Avella A06859/S0884 – On Assembly floor, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee)
This bill would require a comprehensive analysis of oil and gas drilling waste to determine whether its chemical content and characteristics make it hazardous. Such waste would be properly tracked and disposed of only at facilities equipped to safely handle it.
More than 500,000 tons of fracking waste have been transported from Pennsylvania to New York landfills. This waste is often hazardous- it can be toxic and flammable, and contain chemicals, metals, benzene, and other dangerous substances. New York State environmental regulations currently exempt oil and gas drilling waste from being treated as hazardous waste.
Financial Liability for Crude Oil Storage
(Fahy/Avella, A07625/S05751A – In Assembly Codes Committee, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee)
This bill would require that companies have financial security to meet all responsibilities for cleanup and decontamination costs associated with the accidental release of crude oil.
The storage of crude oil has increased dramatically in the U.S. over the past five years. Rail transport of crude oil has increased from over 9,000 carloads in 2008 to over 400,000 in 2013, expanding the need for safe and secure storage facilities.
(The Cuomo administration is also taking steps to prepare for crude oil spills during transport.)
(Peoples-Stokes A03304 or Stirpe/O’Mara, A06199/S4926 – In Assembly Ways and Means and Environmental Conservation Committees respectively, on Senate floor)
These bills would create a take-back program for leftover paint similar to those established for electronic waste, rechargeable batteries, and thermostats.
About 10 percent of paint purchased in New York goes unused. This results in about 3.1 million gallons of leftover paint each year in New York State which need to be properly disposed of.