As New York state celebrated Earth Day and the many bounties the planet has given mankind, the New York State Assembly also took part in the holiday in their own way.
The New York State Assembly commemorated April 22, 2021 as the fifty-first anniversary of Earth Day by passing a legislation package aimed at protecting the public’s health and safeguarding the natural environment.
“The Assembly Majority remains committed to protecting our environment and the health of all New Yorkers,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “The legislation passed in today’s Earth Day package builds on the standards we set in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to ensure a safe and healthy environment for generations to come.”
The Assembly also set the date of May 13, 2021 for a hearing on the implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), a piece of legislation first passed in 2019 to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Of the legislation passed, two measures specifically aim at reducing emissions in line with CLCPA standards. The first sets the goal that all New York in-state sales of new passenger motor vehicles, as well as off-road vehicles and equipment, would be zero-emission by 2035 and medium to heavy duty vehicles would be zero-emissions by 2045.
The second measure requires the Public Service Commission to create a flexible billing system for commercial electric vehicle charging stations in hopes to remove obstacles that have been holding back the implementation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
“Transportation is one of the most critical areas where we can significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said New York State Assembly Member Michael Cusick of the measure. “In some cases, current laws and practices, which predate our newest electric vehicle technology, can be cost prohibitive or can impose significant barriers to the integration of electric vehicles into our transportation sector. The bills in today's package create opportunities to reduce or eliminate these barriers and encourage the use of electric vehicles so that we can reduce dangerous emissions and preserve our environment for generations of New Yorkers.”
The Earth Day legislation package also included a landmark fracking bill. The bill prohibits the use of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on highways as a method of de-icing roads in the winter.
“Even though New York has permanently banned fracking, we continue to feel the impact of extraction-related activities,” said New York State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell of the bill. “We put the health and safety of New Yorkers at risk when we allow fracking byproducts, including radioactive contaminants, to make their way from our streets into aquifers. Today's legislative package furthers New York’s environmental stewardship, and I'm proud it includes my bill banning the use of hydrofracking byproducts for clearing our roadways."
Also included in the Earth Day legislation package is a measure aimed at prohibiting hotels and motels from distributing single use plastic hospitality personal care products. With over 40% of the world’s plastic being from single-use plastic products, the measure would most certainly help in the reduction of plastic pollution.
“We and all living things are linked to our environment,” said Environmental Conservation Committee Chair and Assembly Member Steve Englebright of the legislation. “Every day we depend on Earth’s abundance to keep us healthy. Clean air, clean water and a healthful environment are necessary for our survival. The bills we passed today will reduce the proliferation of plastic, reduce harmful air pollution from our communities and protect our water from pollution.”
Following the passing of the Earth Day legislation, the Assembly Climate Change Work Group promised to monitor the implementation of the CLCPA on both the state and federal level, exploring policies and initiatives to counteract the devastating effects of climate change.