Senator Sharpens Albany's Focus On Environment

May 01, 2014

This winter, Sen. Tony Avella (11th District, Queens) was named Vice Chair of the Senate's Committee on Environmental Conservation. This newly created post will give him the unique opportunity to help shape the Legislature's environmental agenda.

NYLCV Eco-Politics sat down with Avella to learn more about his new role and what environmental issues he hopes to tackle.

Sen. Tony Avella

Sen. Tony AvellaEco-Politics: What does it mean to be the Vice Chair of the Committee on Environmental Conservation?

I am very honored to be serving as Vice-Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee.  Before joining the Independent Democratic Conference earlier this year I served as Ranking Member of the Committee since coming to the Senate in 2011.  I look forward to an even more active role on the Committee and I know Senator Grisanti and I will continue to work closely with one another in addressing the very serious environmental matters that are pending in the Committee.

What are some of the biggest environmental and resiliency challenges facing New York State?

There are many challenging issues facing New York State in regard to both environmental and resiliency matters.  However, I would say that the most pressing are the related concerns of our continued dependence on fossil fuels and hydrofracking natural gas.   New York State must be a leader in fostering and actively pursuing the development of new and environmentally sound energy options.  What this means is we have to move away from promoting harmful energy options like hydrofracking of natural gas.

What statewide environmental issues are at the top of your to-do list?

I will best answer this question by listing the specific legislation that is currently at the top of my priorities list:

  • Hydrofracking - including keeping dangerous fracking fluids and drill cuttings out of our state for purposes of disposal or processing (Bill #S448)
  • Child Safe Products Act (Bill #S4614 - Sen. Boyle)
  • Standing for Individuals to bring legal action in regard to the State Environmental Quality Review (Bill #S675)
  • Prohibiting Cadmium-Added Products in jewelry, toys or ornaments (Bill #S6729)
  • Prohibiting Microbeads used in Cosmetic Products (Bill #S7018 - Sen. Grisanti)
  • Ivory Ban in NYS (Bill #S7040)

What local environmental issues in your district in Queens are you working on?

I am currently actively working on the noise and air pollution in relation to the increase in air traffic from the two major NYC airports in Queens - JFK and LGA.

In addition, I am also fighting for reclamation of the waterfront, stopping illegal dumping on planned development sites.

Why are you interested in environmental issues?

Although people may not expect me to be actively involved in environmental issues because I am a life long New York City resident, I believe it is because of this that I am actually very appreciative and aware of how vital our environment is in New York state.   Our state relies on our precious water resources to not only provide for our drinking needs but for our award winning agricultural resources including our  wine, dairy and organic food industries.   In addition, much of our tourism is directly related to our amazing environmental attractions including our mountain and lakes regions which are very delicate ecosystems that we must protect.

As you work towards making New York a greener place, what can NYLCV's members do to help?

Staying informed is one of the most important things which your members can do and I am grateful that the League of Conservation Voters does such a wonderful job of educating its members.

Once members understand an issue they can actively express their support or opposition to an issue by directly reaching out to elected officials both in hand written letters and in-person meetings.  It is too easy for elected officials to ignore emails and it is always more effective to get a hand written note or an in person visit or direct phone call.


See the original post with the New York League of Conservation Voters.