(Albany, NY) The New York State Senate today passed major legislation to protect New Yorkers against toxic materials, establish a constitutional right to clean air and water, and to protect the state’s environment and natural resources. These bills are part of the Senate Majority’s ongoing commitment to protect New Yorkers’ rights and health. The Senate will continue to advance legislation to promote environmental protection and conservation efforts and to protect the state’s natural resources.
“The new Senate Democratic Majority understands the dangers of toxic chemicals in our kids’ toys, and that’s why we’re combatting that practice. This should not have taken many years and a leadership change to pass,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “State government must take a leadership role in the fight against climate change, and we have a responsibility to future generations to take action today. The legislation passed by the Senate Majority will help guarantee that all New Yorkers have a constitutional right to clean air and water. The Senate Democratic Majority will continue to be a leader in the fight against climate change and we will pass more legislation to protect our environment and New Yorkers’ health.”
The historic legislation passed by the Senate Democratic Majority includes:
- Constitutional Right to Clean Air and Water: This bill, S.2072, sponsored by Senator Carlucci, will amend the State Constitution’s bill of rights to include a right to clean air and water and a healthful environment.
- Protecting Children From Toxic Toys: This bill, S.501B, introduced by Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Senator Todd Kaminsky, will establish strict regulations on toxic chemicals in children’s products.
- Banning Harmful Pesticides: This bill, S.5343, introduced by Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Senator Todd Kaminsky, will prohibit the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos that has significant known adverse human health impacts, especially for children.
- Identifying High Local Environmental Impact Zones: This bill, S.181, introduced by Senator Jose Serrano, will require the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to publish a list of areas in the State that are most adversely affected by existing environmental hazards, known as high local environmental impact zones.
- Saving Water: This bill. S.354A, introduced by Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Senator Todd Kaminsky, will align water-saving performance standards with the WaterSense Program guidelines developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Regulating Lead Contaminated Jewelry: This bill, S.4046, introduced by Senator Kevin Parker, will require jewelry containing 40 parts per million of lead to carry a warning that the jewelry “may be harmful if eaten or chewed” to notify consumers or parents of children wearing such jewelry that a potential hazard exists.
- Promoting Solar Within Homeowners’ Associations: This bill, S.4742A, introduced by Senator Kevin Parker, will prohibit homeowners’ associations from restricting the installation or use of solar power systems while still while still granting them a role in the decision-making process.
- Clearly Defining ‘Local’ For New York Agriculture Products: This bill, S.3829, introduced by Senator Jen Metzger, will direct the Department of Agriculture and Markets to establish guidelines for foods to be labelled as “local.” Currently, there is no statewide definition of “local” or “locally grown.” According to Packaged Facts, a market research firm, local foods generated $11.7 billion in sales in 2014, and will climb to $20.2 billion by 2019. Under this bill, consumers will have confidence that the products labeled as ‘local’ are truly local and from New York producers.
- Increasing Tax Credits for Solar: This bill, S.752, introduced by Senator Velmanette Montgomery, will increase the allowable tax credit for the installation of solar energy system equipment.
- Reducing Mercury in Mercury-added Lamps: This bill, S.2139B, introduced by Senator James Sanders, will ensure that mercury-added lamps sold in New York State do not contain excessive levels of mercury.
- Saving Vulnerable Animal Species: This bill, S.5098, introduced by Senator Monica Martinez, will allow the state to protect species that do not currently enjoy protections on the state or federal level, but are at risk for such a listing, or even worse, extinction due to trade.
- Bird-Friendly Building Council Act: This bill, S.25A, introduced by Senator Brad Hoylman, will create a “Bird-Friendly Building Council” in the Department of Environmental Conservation to address both existing buildings and new construction that threaten bird populations.
- Promote Healthier Lifestyles: This bill, S.2767, introduced by Senator Leroy Comrie, will help promote a healthier lifestyle to all New Yorkers through an inter-disciplinary approach. Specifically, this legislation will encourage the expansion of community gardens and the availability of more fresh fruits and vegetables. This legislation will also direct the state and municipalities to develop more and safer bike lanes and multiple-use trails to encourage physical activity and reduce carbon emissions.
Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and Bill Sponsor, Senator Todd Kaminsky said, “I am thankful to my Senate colleagues for advancing my legislation to protect our communities from the insidious effects of toxic chemicals in our environment and consumer products. By banning the use of the pervasively harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos, and eliminating toxic chemicals as an ingredient in children’s products, we can properly safeguard our communities. Shielding children, the most vulnerable New Yorkers, from toxic chemicals is long overdue. And my legislation to improve water efficiency will help reserve a critical resource for generations to come.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator David Carlucci said, “The Senate Majority is working to protect our environment for future generations even if our federal government continues to counter important efforts to mitigate climate change. This package of bills, including the Green Amendment, which I sponsor, will help ensure New Yorkers have healthier communities, safer drinking water, more sources of clean energy, and less exposure to harmful chemicals. Thank you Leader Stewart-Cousins for recognizing we only get one planet that must be protected for our children and their children.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Leroy Comrie said, “Our environment’s upkeep is paramount, as we could not exist without clean air and water. New York State must continue to be a leader in providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, promoting exercise and wellness, and protecting our residents against harmful materials. I am proud to support this package of legislation and commend my colleagues for advancing measures to safeguard our state’s environment and natural resources.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Up to a billion birds a year die from collisions with human-made structures. According to National Audubon Society, incorporating bird-friendly design can reduce collision deaths by nearly 90 percent. I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for supporting my legislation, the Bird-Friendly Building Council Act (S.25A), which will help identify solutions to stem one of the leading causes of bird deaths in the United States. As we commemorate Earth Day in Albany, with the help of Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate EnCon chair Todd Kaminsky and Assembly sponsor Steve Engelbright, this important legislation is finally taking flight.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Monica Martinez said, “Our nation is the home to an array of remarkable plants and animals, however many of these incredible species have fallen victim to threats such as climate change and loss of habitat. By prohibiting the sale or possession of anything made in whole or in part of an endangered species in New York, we are taking another step in the right direction when it comes to safeguarding at-risk species and our environment.”
Bill Sponsor, Jen Metzger said, “I am proud to sponsor legislation establishing labeling standards to ensure that any food product is marketed as ‘locally made’ or ‘locally grown’ in our state is, in fact, made with ingredients grown and produced in New York. The local food movement provides tremendous opportunity to our farmers and food producers, and this legislation helps to ensure that they benefit from it. Transparency and accuracy in food labeling enables New Yorkers to choose responsibly and with confidence that the ingredients in the products they buy are truly grown, raised, harvested, and produced in New York.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, “With a President who refuses to address the threat of climate change, New York needs to lead the nation in the fight for our future. Renewable energy sources will drive us into a more sustainable future, and protect our state for the next generation. I am proud to sponsor this bill and enable more households around New York to adopt solar energy as a clean energy source to power their lives.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Kevin Parker said, “The health and safety of New York State residents has always been and will continue to be our number one priority. This legislation put forth will work to enforce a mandatory warning label policy for all jewelry containing 40 parts/million of lead to ensure that parents and guardians are well aware of the potential hazard that exists prior to purchasing jewelry for a love one.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator James Sanders Jr. said, “We want to reduce the risk of potentially dangerous mercury from getting into our water, soil, or atmosphere. Mercury pollution is a serious threat to the environment and our health, and as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Jose Serrano said, “Communities like my own in the Bronx have been disproportionately affected by health disparities associated with environmental pollution. Today’s actions will ensure that by identifying high environmental impact zones, New York recognizes the existence of overburdened communities and considers the potential negative effect of any future State projects in environmentally disadvantaged areas. As we move toward a greener, cleaner New York, we must make balanced and informed decisions on environmental matters as we protect the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.”
Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said, “Protecting New Yorkers and promoting a clean environment go hand in hand and I am excited to support these significant proposals to protect water, air and our interconnected health. This is the type of leadership the New New York Senate delivers.”