- Comptroller Dinapoli, Senator Grisanti & Assemblyman Sweeney Join Hundreds Of New Yorkers At 22nd Annual Earth Day Lobby Day

Comptroller Dinapoli, Senator Grisanti & Assemblyman Sweeney Join Hundreds Of New Yorkers At 22nd Annual Earth Day Lobby Day

Big Push for Albany Action on Top Green Priorities

(ALBANY, NY)—Hundreds of New Yorkers from across the state converged on the Capitol in Albany today to urge their representatives to enact critical legislation that will protect the environment and build a clean energy economy.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, State Senator Mark Grisanti and Assembly Member Robert Sweeney joined advocates for the 22nd annual Earth Day Lobby Day to voice their support for the five “Super Bills” recently named top priorities by the state’s environmental community. Other speakers included Jared Snyder, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation; Dr. Anahita Williamson, director of the Pollution Prevention Institute; and representatives from environmental groups.

Earth Day Lobby Day is the environmental community’s signature annual event in the State Capital, providing an opportunity for individuals and lawmakers alike to come together and address New York’s most pressing environmental challenges—from clean energy and climate change, to protecting drinking water from industrial gas drilling by means of “fracking” and children’s health.

Advocates focused their efforts on the 2012 slate of priority Super Bills:

  • The Child Safe Products Act (A.3141-A) would protect New York's children from toxic chemicals by better regulating the use of chemicals in kids’ products. The legislation would create an infrastructure to categorize chemicals of concern, prioritize based on the likelihood of exposure, and require disclosure by manufacturers as to whether children's products contain priority chemicals.

  • The Environmental Protection Fund Enhancement Act (S.5403-A / A.7137-A) would increase resources allocated to the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by phasing in unclaimed deposits collected by the state through the Returnable Beverage Container Law—the state's most successful recycling program—over four years.

  • The Solar Industry Development & Jobs Act (A.9149-A / S.4178-A ** not currently same as) would create thousands of new solar jobs and jumpstart investment in New York’s growing solar energy industry by requiring that 3,000 megawatts be installed on the grid by 2021—enough to generate over 3,400 gigawatt-hours of electricity to power over 300,000 households, equivalent to nearly two percent of New York State’s total electric load. Adding that much solar to our energy mix would reduce as much carbon pollution as taking nearly two million cars off the road.

  • The Global Warming Pollution Cap (A.5346 / S.2742) would require that climate-altering pollution from all sources is cut by 80 percent by the year 2050. This target reflects the greenhouse gas level reduction that scientists say will help us avert the worst impacts of climate change.

  • The Fracking Hazardous Waste Loophole (A.7013 / S.4616) would end special exemptions that allow the gas industry to circumvent requirements for hazardous waste disposal, including fracking wastes. This bill would update state law so that all waste resulting from gas drilling that meets the definition of hazardous waste be treated as such and subject to all regulations related to its generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal.

“For 22 years, Earth Day Lobby Day has provided an opportunity for citizens to come to Albany to voice their support for protecting New York’s environment,” said Laura Haight, NYPIRG’s senior environmental associate.  “We are delivering a message to state lawmakers that public support for protecting our air, water, land - and our health - continues to be strong.”

“Today’s great turnout for Earth Day Lobby Day underscores how much New Yorkers care about clean energy and the environment,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “Now that the environmental community has set clear goals for Albany, it’s time for our elected leaders in both houses and in both political parties to act.”

“State leaders tell us they support a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable future for New York,” said Robert Moore, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates of New York. “Now it’s time to put those words into action and pass the 2012 Super Bills. By passing these legislative priorities, our leaders will send a clear signal to their constituents and the nation—New York is ready to lead by example by protecting our children, safeguarding the safety or our water, cutting the pollution that’s changing our climate, and cleaning up our energy mix.”

Following remarks by elected leaders, Earth Day Lobby Day featured issue briefings by many of New York’s leading environmental organizations. Afterward, concerned citizens visited lawmakers’ offices to urge prompt action on the 2012 Super Bills. Lobby visits took place at more than 85 legislative offices.

“The Adirondack Park and its residents would see real benefits from an enhanced Environmental Protection Fund, from new solar-electric power and from a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal.  “The EPF pays for big environmental projects such as landfill closures, recycling facilities and new park lands, while improving employment opportunities in the construction and operations of these new facilities.  Without the EPF, most of the park’s small, rural communities couldn’t afford these essentials.  In addition, solar power development can help stabilize the park’s electric grid, which currently is supplemented with diesel-generated power when supplies get low.  And, curbing greenhouse gases can help us protect extremely rare wildlife and plants whose homes and survival are threatened by rising year-round temperatures.”

“Fracking wastewater is radioactive and laced with chemicals, heavy metals and salt, and no treatment plant in New York is currently equipped to treat it,” said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. “The loophole in state law that allows this toxic brew to be treated as normal industrial waste defies common sense and threatens our lakes, rivers and aquifers.”

“Today members of the legislature heard from men and women, young and old, from upstate and downstate—regular people from all walks of life that came together in Albany to urge their representatives to protect our health and environment,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.  “The public doesn’t expect the lingering recession to be used as an excuse not to protect public health and the environment.  The Super Bills will advance clean energy while ensuring common sense health protections, and should be passed this legislative session.”

“Ideally, our Earth Day priorities should be the law of the land throughout the United States. We're hopeful that New York State will continue to demonstrate leadership that builds toward such broad reforms, and protect its own air, water, soil, and most vulnerable residents from toxic chemicals until such time as we see action from the Federal Government," said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. 

This year’s Earth Day Lobby Day was hosted by the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Alliance for New York State Parks, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Clean and Healthy New York, Environmental Advocates of New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Interfaith Power and Light, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York Public Interest Research Group, Pace Energy and Climate Center, Public Employees Federation Division 169, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, Sierra Club, Sullivan Citizens for Responsible Energy Development, The Nature Conservancy, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and cosponsored by additional organizations.