Assemblyman Stirpe: Earth Day Legislation Protects Health of Our Environment and CNY Families

May 3, 2019

Every April, Earth Day reminds us to not only take a moment and appreciate our environment, but just how vital it is that we do everything we can to protect it. While Earth Day came and went, my Assembly colleagues and I passed legislation this week to protect both our environment and the health and safety of all New Yorkers and move us toward a more sustainable future.

One of our top priorities with our Earth Day legislation was to ensure that every New Yorker has equal access to a healthy environment. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Low-income communities have been disproportionately affected by the siting of new projects with dangerous environmental impacts. To right this injustice, the Assembly passed a measure that would require the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to publish a list of “high local environmental impact zones” and consider factors that contribute to an area’s environmental health (A.1779). The Assembly’s legislative package also includes a constitutional amendment to establish the right to clean air and water and a healthful environment (A.2064).

Further, the Assembly’s legislation gives parents greater peace of mind when buying kids products by restricting the use of dangerous chemicals in products meant for children (A.6296-A). The legislation also ensures that mercury-added lightbulbs don’t contain excessive amounts of mercury (A.2501-A), because household products shouldn’t threaten your health.

To preserve New York’s supply of fresh water, I helped pass a bill raising the water-saving standards of plumbing fixtures, including tank-type toilets, shower heads, faucets and urinals, to align with guidelines set forth in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program (A.2286).

The legislative package also includes a measure that allows the DEC to designate a species as vulnerable and provide additional protections for them, bans the sale of items made from these species (A.6600).

The steps we’ve taken this week will help preserve our environment for generations to come and ensure our families can continue taking advantage of the beautiful green spaces in our communities. Here in Central New York, there’s no shortage of opportunities to enjoy the natural world around us. From spending a sunny summer afternoon at the beach to taking a hike on one of the dozens of trails in our own backyard, we have boundless options to see the beauty our planet has to offer.

However, one of those opportunities has been sadly lacking – the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile route spanning the state. The 14-mile gap in Central New York’s portion of the trail has made it difficult for residents and visitors to truly experience all our area has to offer. That’s why I’m excited that New York will be closing this gap, allowing more people to get outside and enjoy our local communities.[1] The state’s $27 million plan will close the gap between DeWitt and Camillus and create a gateway to welcome bicyclists at the New York State Fairgrounds.[2] Slated to begin later this year, these improvements will allow people from all over to gain easy and safe access to Central New York so they can enjoy the communities we love.

As we continue our work in Albany, I’ll do everything I can to protect and preserve our natural resources, allowing future generations to fully enjoy outdoor spaces like the Empire State Trail. If you have questions about this or any other community issues, my door is always open. Feel free to contact me by phone at 315-452-1115 or by email at StirpeA@nyassembly.gov.

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[1] waer.org/post/state-officials-announce-27-million-plan-close-empire-state-trail-gap

[2] Ibid.