Issues: Environmental Protection

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Ban Single-Use Plastics: Plastics degrading into microscopic particles are rapidly destroying species, fisheries, and ecosystems and harming human health with plastic chemicals. Immediately ban single-use plastic bags and phase out all single-use plastics over 5 years.

End Child Lead Poisoning

  • Enact Dakota's Law: Strengthen the state's safety standard for lead blood levels from 10 micrograms per deciliter to the federal standard of 5 micrograms per deciliter. Dakota's Law is named after a 4-year-old girl living in NYCHA housing found to have 9 times the safe lead level in her blood. Dakota’s Law would require health officials statewide take action to help children younger than 18 living in public or private housing who have 5 micrograms or more.
  • Lead-Safe Certification: Enact a state law requiring lead-safe certification before units are rented out.
  • Improve Lead Abatement Certification: Incorporate federal standards for lead abatement practices and certification into New York state standards.
  • School Drinking Water Lead Testing: Test public school water taps for lead annually.
  • State Funding for Lead Remediation: State funding to local governments to support lead inspections and abatement.

Restore Funding and Staffing for the Department of Environmental Conservation: DEC is down about 900 positions since Governor Pataki took office and 1000 since its high point. The number of responsibilities (statutory and regulatory) have significantly increased during that period. Restore DEC staffing to at least its high point and perhaps higher in order for it to meet its responsibilities. Stop contracting out DEC operations to private, for-profit firms. Outsourcing reduces accountability and quality, thus raising costs for the state, the environment, and public health.

Citizen Enforcement of Environmental Laws: Enact the Private Environmental Law Enforcement Act to amend the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) so broader categories of citizens and environmental groups are able to bring litigation to enforce environmental regulations.

Pass the Environmental Rights Amendment: Amend the New York State Constitution to state that "Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment."

End Solid Waste Incineration: Garbage incineration is a financial drain as well as a source of dangerous environmental pollution. Rapidly phase out and ban waste incineration.

A Zero Waste Solid Waste Policy: Enforce existing laws related to solid waste and recycling. Promote reuse and reduction. Oppose incineration and landfills. Require packaging to be reusable if possible, or at least recyclable. Require waste manufacturers to be legally and financially responsible for waste disposal. Adopt Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation (also known as product stewardship) to engage manufacturers and importers in the design of products and packaging to reduce waste and toxicity and remove the burden from government and taxpayers. Provide state technical assistance and financing for the collection and marketing of recyclables, including the construction and operation of Material Recovery Facilities. Promote volume-based fees for garbage collection, with recycling for free. Ban waste haulers and municipalities from sending recyclable materials for disposal and instead require recyclables to be source separated and transported to recycling processing facilities. Establish a secure funding stream to fund sustainable solid waste programs for the long term, create new jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emission reductions. Licensing fees, facility permit fees and surcharges on disposal should all be used to provide dedicated funding. The state should provide technical and financial assistance to enable communities to implement curbside pickup of compostable materials.

Protect Wetlands: Enact legislation to provide regulatory protection of all wetlands. Direct DEC staff to update state wetland maps to reflect those wetlands that were not identified when the first state maps were created with old 1980s technology.

Ban All Terrain Vehicles from State Parks

Protection from Toxic Chemicals: Almost 80,000 chemicals are sold in the United States. We are exposed to many of them on a daily basis in household cleaning agents, personal care products, cosmetics, pesticides, building materials, and packaging. Most remain unexamined and unregulated. The odds are certain that some of these chemicals are very harmful. Require manufacturers to provide information regarding the chemicals contained in consumer products. Expand research into the impacts of chemicals used in producing goods on the environment and public health. Apply the Precautionary Principle to these chemicals - don't use until proven safe - instead of the current safe until proven otherwise practice. New York State can set an example and begin this research. But the problem is so massive that the federal government must support it. New York State should lobby for comprehensive federal action.

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