New York State Senate Approves Environmental Conservation Legislation

J.M. Lesinski
Photo by J.M. Lesinski

An extensive package of eco-friendly legislation was recently passed by the New York State Senate. Bills included in the legislative package aim to preserve New York’s natural resources, while simultaneously empowering future generations, like the proposed carpet stewardship program which would establish universal objectives for carpet recycling and phase out PFAS chemicals from new carpet production.

“The science is clear: carcinogenic flame retardants pose a serious threat to our firefighters and children. By banning these toxic substances from everyday items in our homes, such as furniture and electronic accessories, we will be taking a major step in keeping our families and first responders safe,” stated Bill Sponsor and Chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation Senator Todd Kaminsky. “It is long past time we put them before corporate polluters — and that is exactly what we are doing today. I look forward to seeing this bill enacted into law — our children and firefighters’ health demands nothing less.”

Two bills included in the legislation aim to tackle the use of hazardous chemicals, including The Birds and Bees Protection Act, which would prohibit the sale of certain seeds pretreated with pesticides that are known toxins to pollinators and requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to review the harmful effects of pesticides that are toxic to pollinators. Another bill aims to prohibit the intentional addition of hazardous flame retardants to furniture, mattresses, and electronic displays.

“The Birds and Bees Protection Act is a transformative piece of legislation that provides targeted, science-based restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides that are having a devastating impact on pollinators,” Bill Sponsor, Senator Brad Hoylman said of his bill. “By passing this legislation, and the rest of our slate of environmental protection bills, New York will be a leader in protecting the future of our earth. I’m grateful that Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is willing to fight for the birds, bees and humans of the Empire State.”

Several bills passed in the conservation package focus on clean water initiatives across the state of New York. If signed into law, school water testing would be expanded, increased in frequency, exemptions would be removed, and lead levels would be further lowered, while freshwater wetlands and streams would also see expanded protections and a streamlined wetlands permitting process. Another bill would permit kelp cultivation in underwater lands at Gardiner’s and Peconic bays, while another would authorize the DEC to establish aquatic invasive species inspection stations in the Adirondack Park.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead, so it is critical that we make sure that they have access to clean drinking water on school grounds,” Senator Gustavo Rivera noted. “I'm proud to sponsor this legislation as it will expand testing, and require lab reports to be accessible online creating further transparency. These measures will further protect our children from the devastating effects of lead contamination.”

Emission control and a commitment to greener energy rounded out the last of the bills passed in the legislation, including the Environmental Justice for All bill, which aims to declare a state policy of equal treatment in the development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Additionally, a moratorium on the operation of cryptocurrency mining centers was proposed on the new or expanded use of fossil fuels to power the operation of said centers and requires completion of an environmental impact study of the cryptocurrency industry in New York state.

“Curbing the use of fossil fuels is crucial to continuing our aggressive approach to climate change,” stated Bill Sponsor, Senator Kevin Parker. “The process of extracting cryptocurrencies can take massive amounts of energy use, and I'm proud to sponsor legislation that would place a moratorium on new or expanded use of fossil fuels to power the operation of cryptocurrency mining centers. This legislation protects New Yorkers from these disastrous impacts.”

The Emission Tampering Act of 2021 also passed, aiming to prohibit the disabling, removal of, or interference with emission control devices, and requires motor vehicle inspection stations to inspect for such devices and expedite their removal. Additionally, The New York State Low Embodied Carbon Concrete Leadership Act passed and would establish a low embodied carbon procurement standard for concrete used in public construction projects that would incentivize emissions reductions throughout the concrete production process.

“As Government leaders, we have a responsibility to protect New Yorkers from hazardous chemicals and to continue making New York State more environmentally friendly,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said of the legislation. “I’m proud that the Senate Democratic Majority, under my leadership, is continuing our work to reduce harmful chemicals, protect our wetlands, and ensure we are on track to meet the high standards we’ve set to make New York State a leader in environmental protection. I thank the bill sponsors for the ongoing commitment to build a stronger and greener New York.”

The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act was also approved, with a goal to establish the soils health initiative, the climate-resilient farming initiative, and promote research on soil health, all of which would be directed by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and aims to encourage agricultural producers across the state to improve and maintain the health of farms, natural resources, and the health, safety, and welfare of all New Yorkers.

“New York continues to fortify its reputation as a national leader in combating climate change, and with the passage of the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act in both houses of the State Legislature, we are sending a strong signal that we are not only committed to achieving our climate goals but to strengthening the partnerships that will help get us there,” Bill Sponsor, Senator Michelle Hinchey remarked of her legislation. “This bill is designed to prioritize New York farmers and the soils that grow our food as core components of our state’s climate strategy. I’m proud to sponsor this transformative legislation to bring New York’s soil health laws to 21st century standards, which will help safeguard our food supply, water, and air quality for generations to come."

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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