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Governor Hochul Signs Environmental Protection Legislative Package
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Governor Hochul Signs Environmental Protection Legislative Package

Governor Kathy Hochul signed eight bills to protect New York’s environment. New initiatives include eliminating plastic waste and ensuring the state’s commitment to clean water.

Two of the most serious problems affecting New Yorkers’ health and quality life are pollution and climate change. Governor Hochul stated. These pieces of legislation will ensure our state remains a national leader, not only in the fight for clean air and water, but in securing a cleaner, more sustainable future for generations as well.

Chemical Additions To the List Of Emerging Contaminants

Legislation (S.1759/A.0126/A) amends the public law to create New York’s first emerging contaminants list and expand the list of chemicals that can be included. The legislation requires that the list be published within the next 90 days and that it be updated every three years. New York will have a better understanding about the levels of exposure to chemicals by requiring inclusion of chemicals that have been detected in state water systems. New York’s first emerging contaminant listing, which would include all UCMR-3 chemicals as well as some of the most recent emerging chemicals, would provide critical information about water quality, protect public health and inform the Department of Health about what chemicals are required to be included in drinking water standards. This testing is an important way to start a proactive approach to regulating drinking waters contaminants in New York.

Senator James Skoufis claimed, Families in New York can feel secure knowing that robust safeguards will soon exist to monitor and test their water. This new law ensures that no small municipality or isolated water system is left without the necessary testing to identify harmful chemicals in drinking water. I am grateful to the many environmental stakeholder who worked tirelessly for this bill to be passed, and I thank Governor Hochul to her support of this important legislation.

Reduce plastic waste 

Legislation (S.0543/A.5082), reduces plastic pollution by limiting the provision of small plastic containers in hotels for personal care products and hospitality. In 2017, 348 million tonnes of plastic were produced around the world. 40% of that plastic was used for single-use products. This legislation is important in limiting the environmental impact of single use plastics. It also provides viable alternatives like dispensers that have proven more cost-effective for hotels.

State Senator Todd Kaminsky stated, Simple, commonsense steps like removing disposable plastic bottles from hotels are a great way to protect our environment for the future. In New York City alone, we will eliminate more then 27 million small plastic bottles each year by working with the hotel industry to ban single-use toiletries from being distributed in hotels. This legislation, which I sponsored, is an important step towards reducing single-use plastic pollution, protecting marine life, as well as setting an example for other countries.

Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Bill

Legislation (S.4722A/A.5386A) establishes Soil Health and Climate Resistance Act to improve and maintain the health and productivity of farms. It also protects natural resources, reduces climate change’s effect on farming, and reduces the impact of climate change. The Soil health initiative would see the Department of Agriculture and Markets in collaboration with the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee and others encourage rural and urban farmers to adopt soil-health practices to maximize soil health. Climate Resiliency Initiative would encourage mitigation of greenhouse gas emission on farmland and promote adaptation of farmland to anticipated climate change impacts. With input from experts, the Department would create voluntary soil health standards for different regions. These efforts will be coordinated by the Agricultural Environmental Management program.

Michelle Hinchey, State Senator The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act in New York is the first major piece legislation that allows farmers, who already lead on environmental management, to be a part of the solution to the climate crisis. Future generations will ask us about what we did to reverse climate change. We will refer to the investments made in regenerative agriculture, and the transformative partnerships that we formed with farmers whose stewardship has helped save the planet. Governor Hochul signed this legislation to put New York agriculture front and centre in the fight against carbon emissions and make it a leader in climate mitigation. I thank the Governor, Donna Lupardo (my Assembly counterpart), and the bipartisan group that includes agricultural and environmental organizations, who are committed to advancing holistic climate change solutions.

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo said, The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act acknowledges the important role agriculture plays in helping the state meet its climate goals. It is based on the simple principle that New York’s agricultural soil must be resilient and healthy. Healthy soil yields healthier foods, reduces climate change through carbon sequestration and protects our natural resource. This bill, sometimes called regenerative farming, is a first step in encouraging a culture of soil-health in New York State. I want to thank Senator Hinchey, who worked with me on this issue, as well as Governor Hochul, for acknowledging the importance of protecting and nurturing New York soil.

Schools with Lead-Free Water

Legislation (S.2122-A/A.0160-B) will ensure that drinking water in schools is safe from lead contamination by expanding lead testing, increasing test frequency, and lowering lead levels. Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of the lead. Experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization agree that there’s no safe level of lead for them. High levels of lead in children can cause long-term problems, including cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, aggressive behavior, and other health issues. More than 82% of public schools reported at most one drinking water tap exceeding the action level, which is currently set at 0.015 micrograms per Liter. This legislation will lower the action level to.005 micrograms per liter. This legislation will provide the strongest lead protections for the nation’s largest student population. Additionally, funding for this testing and remediation are provided by the States Clean Water Infrastructure Act and Federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

Gustavo Rivera, a state senator, said: As lead poisoning continues to rise in New York, this law will help us to take proactive steps to test and remediate lead in school water. I thank Governor Hochul, who signed this important bill into law. It will further protect our children against the dangerous effects lead contamination can have while they are at school.

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said,The new emerging contaminants laws and school lead laws are critical steps to ensuring that everyone has access to safe, clean drinking water. New York has been a leader in water quality protection. We must continue to be proactive in monitoring and enforcing environmental health standards. I commend Governor Hochul, Senator sponsors James Skoufis & Gustavo Rivera, along with all the advocates & communities across the State that helped to get these bills passed into law.

Children’s Overnight and Day Camps Prohibiting Pesticides

New York State’s anti-pesticide laws for schools are extended to children’s overnight camps and summer day camps by legislation (S.4478/S.0528). This act will ensure no children’s summer day camp or overnight camp uses pesticides to any play area, athletic field, or playground. These camps are not subject to anti-pesticide legislation. Children play and spend their time in the same way as in school. This bill will ensure that children are able to play in a safe environment free from pesticides. It also takes into account emergency situations where pesticides may be required.

State Senator Samra Brouk said,Pesticides pose a number of health risks, especially for children and young brains. New York made the sensible decision to ban pesticides from schools in 2011. In 2021, we continue to protect our youth by passing legislation banning pesticide use at summer camp. Children spend a lot of time outdoors and in the fields while at camp. Research shows that even small amounts of pesticide exposure can have long-term adverse effects on children. I am proud to have supported this effort in Senate. I am also grateful to Assemblymember Paulin who did the same in Assembly and to Governor Hochul who signed our legislation into effect.

Assemblymember Amy Paulin said, “I’m proud to have passed landmark, first in-the-nation legislation together with Senator SamraBrouk, which bans pesticides from children’s overnight camps and day camps. This ban has been in effect in New York State for more than a decade for all school playgrounds under the Child Safe Playing Fields Act. We know it works. Kids will now be able, at school and camp, to enjoy their outdoor time in safety and health. Governor Hochul, thank-you for signing this bill and making this important step to improve the lives New York’s children.

The Asthma Rates

Legislation (S.0646/A.2670/B) directs New York State Department of Health, to conduct an asthma study in cities and towns with more than 90,000. For many years, the United States has seen an increase in asthma rates. The New York Times reported, on October 12, 2013, that Asthma affected approximately 40 million Americans. It is the most common chronic condition that affects Americans of any age. The New York Times stated that “the annual cost of asthma in the United States is more than $56billion, including millions of preventable hospital visits and more deaths… Asthma rates tends to be higher in urban areas where there are clusters in poorer communities. The bill will require the Department of Health (the Department of Health) to investigate the Asthma crisis and pinpoint the Asthma clusters in New York’s cities.

James Sanders Jr., a state senator, stated: “As we are still in midst of this terrible pandemic, I would like to commend Governor for signing into law the legislation to conduct a statewide asthma study. The health and well-being all residents of New York State is of the utmost importance at this time.”

Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman said,We’ve seen an increase of asthma rates in urban areas, such as Southeast Queens, over the years. As we continue to fight an asthma crisis, it is only fair that we study the severity of this crisis and put in place policies to treat, control, and prevent it.

New York Airports: Health and Quality of Life Study

The Department of Environmental Conservation is required to conduct a study about the quality of life at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports. Communities in Nassau, Suffolk and parts of New York City are experiencing a decrease in quality of their lives due to noise pollution and other potential ill effects of air traffic patterns around JFK or LaGuardia airports. Changes in air traffic patterns and the increased number of planes flying low to these airports have led to noise complaints rising in affected areas. This has led to a near-constant, deafening noise level which studies have shown is often higher than the day-night noise level (DNL), of 65 decibels (dB), that is considered a significant aviation threshold.

Jim Gaughran, State Senator of Illinois, stated: This bill will help us to determine the health risks that low-flying planes pose for residents. My colleague Judy Griffin, Assemblywoman, and Governor Hochul are both to be thanked for their leadership on this matter.

Assemblymember Judy Griffin said, Residents of Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn continue to suffer from the negative effects of excessive air traffic above their homes for far too many years. The excessive noise, often exceeding accepted decibel levels has been going on for decades and has had a negative impact on residents’ well-being. This state study will confirm what residents know is true: that excessive noise is dangerous to humans and should be better controlled. While we will always experience some level of noise from airplanes, this study is intended to be a call for action by the Federal Government to address it. I thank Governor Hochul today for signing A2140-B into Law.

Bioheating Fuel Requirements

Legislation (S.3321A/A.7290), reduces state heating consumption by establishing minimum levels for biodiesel in heating oil that can be used in buildings in the state. All heating oil sold must contain at least 5 percent biodiesel by July 2022, rising to 10 percent in July 2025. Bioheating fuel reduces multiple pollutants and greenhouse gases. These emissions can cause a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular and respiratory harm. A reduction in these emissions would be beneficial for both public and environmental health. In addition, mixing bioheating oil in heating oils will help the State achieve its climate leadership and community protection goals.

State Senator Todd Kaminsky stated, Bioheat is a more sustainable and cleaner heating source than petroleum oil, which is used to heat most homes and businesses. Bioheat can reduce harmful emissions that are known to be harmful to the environment and health. This is a good step in the right directions that will protect New Yorkers’ health and help us achieve our state’s climate goals, as outlined in Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. This measure was signed by Governor Hochul.

Assemblymember Steve Englebright claimed, Increased biofuel use, as well as the reduction of single-use plastics that are inefficient and costly, will greatly benefit human health and environmental sustainability. These pieces of legislation are crucial and important. I am proud to have sponsored them and thank Governor Hochul for signing them into laws.

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