On April 20, in honor of Earth Day, NYLCV joined two dozen environmental groups from across New York to lobby more than 60 members of the state legislature on 10 bills to advance environmental justice, protect drinking water, ban harmful chemicals, support sustainable waste management, and protect natural habitats. Several of the bills included are NYLCV priorities and are likely to appear on our legislative scorecard later this year.
160/S. 2122, sponsored by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and Senator Gustavo Rivera, addresses lead in school drinking water. In 2016, 82% of New York schools tested found at least one drinking water source above the State action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead. A. 160/S. 2122 would lower the standard to 5 ppb, closer to current scientific best practice. Presently, testing is only required “periodically”, but this legislation would require annual testing to further secure the health of all students.
Current state law exempts schools from testing if their pipe materials are comprised of less than 0.25% lead, making them “lead-free.” A. 160/S. 2122 would remove exemptions for these schools. It would also require lab reports to be accessible and posted online so that parents know the status of their children’s schools and require training for all personnel involved in testing to guarantee quality and accuracy. Lead contamination is a threat to children and exposure through drinking water may cause more children to become sick – this legislation would improve New York’s lead regulations and further protect children’s health.
1185-B, sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky, creates an extended producer responsibility program for packaging waste. An estimated 40% of NY’s municipal solid waste is composed of product packaging and paper products (e.g. plastic containers, steel cans, plastic film, glass bottles, newspaper, cardboard). Unfortunately, less than half of this waste is being recycled properly. Instead of being recycled, much of this waste is ending up as litter in our communities, shipped to landfills, or burned in incinerators. It is estimated that New York municipalities will pay an extra $80 million to process recyclable materials in 2021.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) would require manufacturers to take responsibility for their products throughout their entire product life cycle, by bearing the cost of proper recycling and responsible disposal of packaging and printed paper. Not only does this provide relief to taxpayers, but it also serves as an incentive for producers to minimize packaging materials, improve recyclability, and reduce the toxicity of their products.
6191/A. 5390-A, sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblymember Pat Fahy, would conserve 30% of New York’s land by 2030. To confront the rapid loss of America’s natural places and wildlife, the US must accelerate locally-led land, inland water, and ocean conservation and restoration efforts at all levels of government and across the country. In New York, conserving 30 percent of our lands, inland waters, and ocean by 2030 (30×30) is a necessary step to addressing the climate crisis. The science is clear: conserving and restoring 30 percent of lands, waters, and ocean worldwide is the bare minimum needed to save nature and buffer against the worst impacts of climate change. Our future depends on the natural and working lands that provide our food, clean air, and fresh drinking water, and are the source of our well-being and economic security. At a time when our state faces many challenges ahead, your legislation will help drive meaningful economic recovery and safeguard the future prosperity of communities across New York by investing in restoring our natural and working lands.
NYLCV supports all of the legislation that environmental groups lobbied on for Earth Day, and we hope to see these bills pass both houses of the legislature soon.