The 2019 legislative session came to a close with historic gains for the environment. The State Senate and Assembly passed the most aggressive climate legislation in the country as well as other legislative measures, putting New York at the forefront of the fight for environmental protection.
The climate legislation (A. 8429/S. 6599) will significantly decrease pollution economy-wide and transition New York to renewable energy.
Sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, this legislation will be a model for other states. It will make our economy carbon neutral by 2050, including a requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85%, as well as obtaining 70% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and moving to 100% clean power by 2040. A minimum of 35% of clean energy and energy efficiency funds collected will be directed towards disadvantaged communities with a goal of 40% investment. A 22-member Climate Action Council will be created and is tasked with developing plans and recommendations on how to achieve these requirements.
NYLCV, along with a coalition of environmental groups, have been advocating for this legislation for months.
While many states are passing laws to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in some sectors of the economy, like electricity, this legislation puts New York ahead by decreasing emissions from every sector.
The legislature also passed bills that will reduce toxins from the environment. In honor of Earth Day, both houses passed the Child Safe Products Act (A. 6296-A Englebright/S. 501-B Kaminsky), also known as the Toxic Toys bill, which has been a priority for NYLCV for ten years. The legislation bans chemicals that are at high risk to children’s health and requires manufacturers to report chemicals in their products. It will both protect children’s health and reduce environmental pollution. At the end of session, the legislature passed S. 4351 (Kennedy)/ A. 6373 (Englebright), which establishes a responsible system for the collection, recycling, and proper disposal of leftover paint products. This legislation has also been an NYLCV priority for several years. It will reduce the volume of these products in our landfills, save taxpayers money, and protect the health of sanitation workers. Both houses also took action to ban 1,4-dioxane (A6295A Englebright/S4389B Kaminsky) from consumer products, which will protect water quality across the state but especially on Long Island, and to extend the statute of limitations for water authorities to sue polluters (S. 3337-C Gaughran/A. 5477-C Thiele).
Lawmakers passed legislation that would legalize electric bicycles and scooters in New York (A. 7431-B/S. 5294A). These low-emission transportation options will reduce traffic congestion, enhance air quality, and make our streets more livable, and their legalization also removes antiquated restrictions on working-class families.
Legacy renewable energy will also be protected with the passage of S. 23 (Parker)/A4294 (Cusick), which establishes utility support for existing hydropower and wind power facilities to ensure that our clean energy goals are achieved as economically as possible.
Earlier this year, the State Senate and Assembly passed two bills to protect New York’s waterways. A. 2572 (Englebright)/S. 2316 (Kaminsky) bans offshore drilling and pipeline infrastructure in the state. A. 2571 (Englebright)/S. 2317 (Kaminsky) bans purse seine fishing of the Atlantic menhaden, a species that was previously nearly facing extinction.
We thank Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, Environmental Conservation Committee Chairs Todd Kaminsky and Steve Englebright, and Energy Committee Chairs Kevin Parker and Michael Cusick for their leadership. We will continue to work with stakeholders as these policies are implemented.