Post-Budget Legislative Session Kicks Into Gear

By Peter Aronson

Now that New York State has passed its FY25 budget, the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) has established essential legislative, spending and implementation goals to ensure the continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions across the state.

Among our priorities in the post-budget legislative session are to establish a clean fuel standard for New York, eliminate wasteful packaging and increase recycling, and generate new offshore wind projects.

“These green projects and much more are essential if the state is going to meet its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and by 85 percent by 2050, from 1990 levels,” said NYLCV Policy Director Pat McClellan. “The state will have to push forward on a full complement of projects if we are going to meet our climate goals.”

[For our comprehensive 2024 State Policy Agenda is available here.

Here are our top priorities:

A Clean Fuel Standard: A Clean Fuel Standard legislation (S.B. 1292), would be a significant step towards cutting carbon pollution in New York by requiring the deployment of low-carbon fuels for vehicles currently on our roads. In 2023, the State Senate passed this climate-friendly measure but the Assembly failed to bring it to a vote. We need the full legislature to pass, and for the governor to sign, Clean Fuel Standard legislation in 2024. Once signed into law, we urge the state to immediately fund its implementation.

The NY HEAT Act: The NY HEAT Act is necessary in order to enable gas utilities to comply with New York’s Climate Act and it will help customers switch to affordable and reliable zero-emissions heating and cooling.  The bill will ensure energy affordability by capping costs for low-income customers, and by avoiding billions of dollars in costly and unnecessary new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure. 

Our clean energy goals are not arbitrary. We need to hit those targets in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate, and in order to do that we need to provide the framework for gas utilities to transition to this new reality while saving ratepayers money in the process. 

Rechargeable Battery Recycling Law: The New York League of Conservation Voters supports S. 643-D/A and. 7339-B, which would maximize the removal of unwanted rechargeable batteries from the solid waste stream.

The proposed law would amend the current battery recycling law to include the specific types of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used in e-bikes and e-scooters. The bill will also amend New York State’s Environmental Conservation Law to allow the City of New York to enforce provisions of the rechargeable battery law. This is particularly important due to the proliferation of e-bike and e-scooter use throughout New York City, where many substandard or improperly refurbished batteries that are prone to fires are sold to delivery workers who rely on e-bikes to make a living.

Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act: Passage of this legislation is essential to safeguarding water quality in Suffolk County. The NY State Assembly has already passed it on a vote of 147-0. We urge the Senate to do so as well.  

If passed, the law would establish a countywide Water Quality Management District and Water Quality Restoration Fund to finance projects for the protection, preservation, and rehabilitation of groundwater and surface waters. pursuant to a county wide referendum. “We know a bipartisan majority of voters support this change,” said NYLCV’s Deputy Director of Politics Casey Petrashek. “We also know that Suffolk County residents are entitled to clean drinking water for generations to come. This change is essential to meeting that goal.”

Just Energy Transition Act: The Just Energy Transition Act is an essential opportunity to simultaneously address environmental concerns and environmental justice. This comprehensive plan for replacing and redeveloping New York State’s fossil fuel facilities and their sites by 2030 places a strong emphasis on equity and fairness. By placing a focus on historically disadvantaged communities, the bill will maximize health benefits and ensure those who have been disproportionately impacted by fossil fuel power plants are prioritized. Moreover, this measure would achieve a cost-effective phasing-out of such facilities while providing a just transition for the existing workforce. 

PFAS in Menstrual Care Products: A May 2023 study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found carcinogenic and toxic chemicals in virtually every consumer product commonly used in homes and on our bodies. The New York Times reported on the study, which concluded that chemicals known to cause a wide range of health problems, from asthma, endocrine disruption, reproductive and child development harm to cancer, were found in menstrual care products (in addition to a host of other consumer items). During the 2024 Legislative Session NYLCV is urging state leaders to ban toxic chemicals, including all PFAS substances, in menstrual care products.

Passing Waste Reduction Bill: The average New Yorker produces an astonishing five pounds of trash per day, accumulating to a total of 15 million tons of waste statewide per year. Too much of that is from unnecessary packaging, a problem that will only get worse as the delivery economy continues to grow. While New York has made great strides in waste reduction in recent years, the New York League of Conservation Voters believes it can and must do more. 

Among the League’s top priority in the 2023 State Legislative Session was the Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act (SB 4246). In a previous iteration, which NYLCV also supported, it was known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The measure, which is meant to shift the responsibility for reducing packaging waste from the consumer to the producer, would place the onus on manufacturers of paper and packaging, requiring them to fund existing municipal recycling or create and fund new recycling programs. We urge the State Legislature to pass this bill, for the Governor to sign it, and for the state then to fund its implementation.

We urge passage and implementation of all the above-stated projects. Climate change is getting worse and will undoubtedly have a more dangerous and destructive impact in years to come. To lessen the impact and hopefully reverse this trend, collective action must be taken. We encourage New Yorkers to reach out to their state legislators in support of our positions. 

We look forward to keeping you up-to-date on our priorities as the  legislative session progresses.

04.29.24 // AUTHOR: Devin Callahan //