2022 State Policy Agenda Highlights

The state legislative session has officially commenced! Our elected state representatives have the opportunity to get bold and progressive legislation passed that will protect generations of New Yorkers from adverse public health impacts and climate change. Our agenda specifically highlights environmental justice priorities that ensure equitable distribution of resources to communities that have been historically under-resourced and underserved while on the frontlines of climate related impact. We will be advocating for our top priorities, released earlier this month in our New York State Policy Agenda. Below are the main highlights.


With bold legislation must come even bolder plans for adequate funding. Investing public dollars into our environment is essential to proactively fight the climate crisis and protect all New Yorkers from already existing flooding and extreme weather.


A thriving statewide multi-modal, public transit system will address the major environmental issues our current transportation system poses. We must allocate sufficient funding to improve and expand public transit on Long Island; in the Hudson Valley; and throughout the Central, Western, and Northern regions of New York, including bus and rail for intra- and inter-city transit. Funding should also be used to create robust rebate programs for e-bikes and e-scooters to incentivize carbon-free micro-modal transportation options. Funding on public transit and zero emission transportation will allow us to reach goals of 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from 1990 levels by 2030, and 85% by 2050.


Fighting against climate change must involve a diverse pool of strategies. Transportation, energy, resiliency, green jobs, and waste reduction will all contribute to our vision for a sustainable future. Legislation and funding that will allow for the rapid adoption of zero-emissions vehicles, from school buses, to heavy duty trucks, to passenger and personal vehicles, will greatly contribute to decarbonization on the scale we need to reach net-zero emissions goals. We will push for electrification via legislation to open up direct sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and establish a clean fuels standard needed to achieve mandated transition goals. On top of this, making our streets more walkable, and bikeable, will further decrease dependency on polluting vehicles. This goes hand-in-hand with adapting clean energy for buildings by updating and tightening energy codes. A full transition to zero-emission buildings will greatly contribute to the Public Service Commission’s ongoing work to achieve 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2040.


While we must do everything we can to stop the climate crisis in its tracks, communities across New York are already experiencing the impacts of extreme weather, flooding, and public health issues. Building resilience is key. Federal relief funds to mitigate climate related disasters must be distributed in a timely manner and focus on recovery projects that protect against future storms and floods. This also includes building a zero waste city, by developing policies that promote a circular agenda, addressing challenges with recycling and expanding organic waste recycling.


These agenda points provide an opportunity for New York to reinvigorate its workforce, especially industry workers who are on the frontline of impact as we transition away from fossil fuels. Workforce development and training for budding green industries will help prepare our workforce to support the transition to a green energy economy.


Additionally, environmental and public health go hand in hand. The quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat is a result of environmental wellness. New York is still struggling to fully eliminate and replace lead service lines. We need disclosure and mapping of all existing lead lines so that we can create a comprehensive plan to overcome this impediment to public health once and for all. We also need to protect our watersheds that supply drinking water to all New Yorkers.


Access to fresh food, preserving our farmlands via grants, and protecting pollinators will ensure long-term food security for all. On top of farmland protection, we need public lands protection. We will be pushing for New York to adopt a 30×30 goal for New York State, protecting against the climate and biodiversity crises by conserving 30% of the state’s natural and working lands and water by 2030. We need to be treating our public lands, open spaces, and parks as the essential spaces they are for providing refuge for a diverse ecosystem, and so many communities. This means full funding and resources being deployed for conservation.


Our state policy agenda delivers on key policies that are essential to meeting New York’s climate goals. This legislative session we need to be bolder, so we can support our communities and environment in their most pressing needs. Equity, public health, sustainability, and a green economy must be front and center priorities for our state.


By Abby Terrigino