Assembly Passes Legislation to Celebrate Earth Day, Reduce Emissions in New York State and Support Conservation Efforts

Speaker Carl Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright today announced that the Assembly this week passed a package of legislation in honor of Earth Day, including a resolution celebrating the 52nd Earth Day and legislation that would aid in conservation efforts, stave off the effects of climate change and help protect New York’s environment for generations to come.

“The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was a significant first step in fighting climate change and moving New York in a more sustainable direction, but we know there is more work to be done, and these bills will build on that,” Speaker Heastie said. “Earth Day is an important reminder and celebration, but the Assembly Majority will continue working throughout the year to craft legislation that will help us to conserve our environment, protect our communities and fight the effects of climate change.”

“The Assembly Majority is committed to conserving our state’s natural treasures and protecting our environment for future generations.” Assemblymember Englebright said. “The legislation we passed this week will address multiple aspects of sustainability and conservation, and we will keep providing legislative solutions to help address the climate crisis, and continue building on the work we’ve done in the past.”

The Assembly Majority passed legislation that would set a goal to conserve 30 percent of the land and inland waters in the state by 2030. Scientists and leading conservation groups have warned that we must preserve 30 percent of our land and water systems to help protect against climate change and prevent mass extinctions. Currently, 19 percent of New York state land is conserved or protected (A.5390-B, Fahy).

Additional legislation would help New York State meet standards set in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to reduce emissions and be more sustainable. One bill would require the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) to begin to purchase zero emissions vehicles for use in the state fleet, helping to lower the state’s transportation emissions and facilitating the construction of electric vehicle infrastructure across the state (A.2412-B, Fahy). Another bill, the Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act of 2022, would help New York meet the goals set in the CLCPA by updating the responsibilities of the Building Codes Council and increasing appliance energy efficiency standards (A.8143-A, Fahy).

“Our global ecosystems face extreme challenges as a result of climate change, including our natural treasures here in New York State,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “In the United States, one million acres are lost to development annually while globally, one million species are now at risk of extinction. New York can play a pivotal role in meeting the national 30x30 goal by setting our own, state-level goal to protect 30 percent of our land from development by 2030. I’m proud to sponsor this legislation ensuring New York continues its long legacy of protecting public lands and its natural environment.”

The Assembly passed a bill that would help address environmental equity by requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to factor in disproportionate or inequitable pollution burdens on disadvantaged communities when renewing or issuing new environmental permits. (A.2103-D, Pretlow).

“Too often, already marginalized and economically distressed communities end up being the location for facilities that result in further harming these communities, compromising their health and local economies,” Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow said. “This legislation will require the DEC to complete studies to ensure that any facilities built will not further burden already disadvantaged communities.”

Also included in the legislative package is a bill that would direct the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to prepare a report identifying decommissioned or dormant electric generating sites that could be suitable for renewable energy development and energy storage opportunities. Repurposing these sites would help grow renewable energy production and could revitalize the local economy that lost jobs when the previous facilities closed (A.340-B, Zebrowski).

“By repurposing old, decommissioned energy facilities, we will put infrastructure that’s already in place back to work, help revitalize local economies and make our state a greener more sustainable place,” Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski said. “The Assembly Majority will continue working to invest in our communities and in the technology and economies of the future.”

Legislation passed this week would also help New Yorkers and New York businesses engage in more sustainable practices. One bill would establish an electric landscaping equipment rebate program for equipment like leaf blowers, weed whackers and lawn mowers. Encouraging New Yorkers to purchase electric landscaping equipment would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, noise pollution and help improve air quality. (A.8327-A, Englebright). Certain kinds of residential renewable energy generation is currently net metered and excess energy is converted to “credits” which can be used for future electric bills. This legislation would allow renewable energy customers to donate those credits to low-income families, helping those in need and fighting climate change (A.7703, McMahon).

“Earth Day is an important reminder of the work we need to be doing all year to move us toward greener infrastructure and fighting climate change,” Assemblymember Karen McMahon said. “My legislation will help families that are struggling to pay their bills, while also creating a more sustainable future for our state.”

Included in this week’s legislative package is the Birds and Bees Protection Act, which would restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on certain seeds, outdoor ornamentals, and turf. It would also require the DEC, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets and SUNY ESF, to identify practicable and feasible alternatives to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (A.7429-A, Englebright).

Also passed is a bill that would reduce the disposal of unwanted carpets in landfills, and would encourage carpet recycling with the establishment of a carpet collection program by requiring carpet manufacturers to submit a plan to the DEC for said program by December 31, 2023. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that every year five billion tons of carpet waste goes into landfills (A.9279, Englebright).

Some cryptocurrency mining operations use incredible amounts of energy – more than some countries use in a year. Legislation passed would establish a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining operations that use proof of work authentication methods to validate blockchain transaction. It would also require a comprehensive environmental impact study of cryptocurrency mining operations (A.7389-C, Kelles).

“As technology and our economy evolve, our efforts to protect our environment and fight climate change must evolve with it,” Assemblymember Dr. Anna R. Kelles said. “Large-scale cryptocurrency mining operations use extreme amounts of energy. This legislation will put a pause on the purchase and reactivation of outdated fossil-fuel fired power plants, often located in environmental justice communities, for proof-of-work based cryptocurrency mining and will collect critical environmental data to evaluate the cryptomining industries' impact on our ability to meet our state environmental goals and do our part to protect the future integrity of our planet.”