Our Green Policy Priorities for 2019

This week, we released our green policy priorities as part of our 2019 State Policy Agenda. We’re focusing on five major issue areas: ensuring adequate funding for the environment, addressing the causes and effects of climate change, protecting the health of New Yorkers and their communities, conservation of natural resources, and protecting agricultural lands.

The agenda, available here as a PDF, will drive our advocacy work throughout the legislative session as we push for budget appropriations and legislation. It will also influence the bills we select for this year’s State Environmental Scorecard.

This year brings an exciting new political landscape in the Capitol that provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to ensure New York remains at the forefront on environmental issues. In the wake of sobering recent reports on the impacts of climate change, it is clear that now is the time to act. We look forward to working with our partners in government to make 2019 the most productive year in recent memory for the environment.

The State Policy Agenda was drafted by the NYLCV Policy Committee with input from New York’s leading environmental, public health, conservation, energy, environmental justice, and transportation organizations. The committee works together every year to identify the state’s most pressing priorities on fighting climate change, conserving land and water, and protecting public health.

Our top priorities include:

Congestion Pricing: The New York City metropolitan region’s subway system, bus service, and commuter rail lines are broken, encouraging commuters to use less environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. The City’s streets are choked with traffic, harming both public health and the fight against climate change. Charging a fee on all vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district must be the cornerstone of a sustainable and equitable funding plan for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and regional mass transit. The use of a fee would also improve air quality, reduce asthma and other respiratory illnesses, improve bus speeds, and make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists by reducing congestion and improving the pace of traffic.

Climate Change:  It is critical to adopt a statewide plan to address the root causes of climate change and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as practicable. The State should codify its commitment to have a carbon-neutral electric grid by 2040 and an 80% reduction in overall emissions by 2050.

Clean Transportation: The transportation sector is now the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. The State should continue to pursue an aggressive program to reduce transportation emissions through the interstate Transportation and Climate Initiative, promote the deployment of zero emission vehicles statewide, and electrify transit and school buses.

Food Waste: Food waste makes up 18% of the solid waste stream in New York and significantly contributes to climate change by releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when it decomposes in landfills. New York State should pass legislation requiring large generators of food waste to donate excess wholesome food to food banks and recycle inedible food and food scraps in order to assist food-insecure New Yorkers, divert food waste from landfills, and stimulate the market for organic recycling in New York.

Recycling: The recycling market is facing numerous challenges that need to be addressed in order to make New York’s waste management more sustainable. New York State should explore a range of short-, medium-, and long-term options to fix the recycling market, including: passing more extended producer responsibility laws; supporting local recycling efforts, including funding for recycling coordinators and public education campaigns; covering additional containers in an expanded Bottle Bill; standardizing a statewide list of recyclable materials; and encouraging or requiring the sale and purchase of products with recycled content.

Clean Water: The Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 is a nation-leading investment in protecting water resources. New York should build on this success by allocating another $2.5 billion to clean water infrastructure over the next five years and build on the Safe School Drinking Water Act to further protect children from lead-containing fixtures in all environments.

Thank you to NYLCV Policy Committee Co-Chairs Gail Port and Adrienne Atwell, and all those who worked to develop this agenda.