NYS Assembly Approves Environmental Legislative Package as Part of House's 2016 Annual Earth Day Commemoration

Ban on Dangerous Chemicals in Children's Products Included in Environmental Legislation

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright announced the passage of legislation aimed at protecting the environment and human health in commemoration of Earth Day 2016.

"Earth Day is an annual reminder to all of us that we must preserve and protect what Mother Earth has given us," said Speaker Heastie. "The Assembly's 2016 Earth Day Legislative Package continues our house's longstanding commitment to establishing safeguards that will protect the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers and the environment to ensure the air we breathe and the water we drink is clean and safe," said Speaker Heastie.

"In commemoration of Earth Day, I am very pleased the Assembly approved legislation that ensures environmental justice and protects the health and safety of New Yorkers today and for future generations," said Englebright.

Protecting children from harmful chemicals found in toys, clothing and other children's products is the objective of one of the bills included in the Assembly's environmental legislation. Currently, the state bans only a small number of chemicals that pose a risk to children, who are particularly vulnerable to even small amounts of these substances. The provisions of this legislation (A.5612-A, Englebright), which are based on laws in the states of Washington, California and Maine, would impose a more comprehensive prohibition on the use of dangerous chemicals and encourage the use of safer chemical alternatives in children's products. Other environmental measures included in the legislation would:

  • establish a permanent environmental justice advisory group within the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and an Environmental Justice Interagency Coordinating Council to protect communities from hosting disproportionate levels of pollution (A.3063, Peoples-Stokes);
  • require DEC to designate High Local Environmental Impact Zones as those areas of the state that have been adversely effected by existing environmental hazards. These DEC designations would ensure that when projects with potential adverse environmental impacts are proposed to be located in such areas, the additional impact of these facilities on the health and well-being of communities within the zones is taken into consideration (A.3382; Peoples-Stokes); and
  • ensure that fluorescent light bulbs sold in New York State do not contain excessive levels of mercury, a hazardous material that is a danger to human health and the environment (A.5844, Kavanagh).

The Assembly also passed legislation (A.9289, Cymbrowitz) intended to encourage public involvement and science-based decision making. This bill would place a moratorium on DEC's proposed management plan that would drastically reduce the presence of mute swans based on concerns that mute swans damage local ecosystems. The measure requires that a minimum of two public hearings be held and additional scientific research be provided before a plan can be finalized.