Assemblymember Bronson: Assembly Passes Legislation Protecting the Environment

Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson (D-Rochester/Chili/Henrietta) announced he helped pass key legislation to promote sustainability, reduce pollution and preserve natural resources. The legislation passed in recognition of Earth Day, which was April 22.

“Today, we made a step in the right direction to ensure that the health and well-being of our families and the Earth are protected for generations to come,” Bronson said. “We have only one Earth. There is no Planet B.”

Protecting New York’s water systems and communities

The legislative package gives the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulatory authority over freshwater wetlands of one acre or more in size to protect these vital water systems that act as natural water filters and can help prevent flooding during storms (A.6282). Current law only grants the DEC this authority for mapped wetlands that are 12.4 acres or more.

Further, the Assembly passed a bill to institute financial surety measures for owners of crude oil storage facilities, vessels and railroads (A.1773). These measures will ensure that companies transporting oil through our communities have the resources to effectively and efficiently respond to a spill or accident

Promoting environmental justice

Low-income communities and communities of color have continuously been disproportionately chosen for projects with adverse environmental impacts, unfairly afflicting residents with related health problems and sometimes severe pollution. Areas with existing environmental hazards are frequently chosen for new projects in the hope that any further adverse impact would be incrementally less than the impact if the project took place in a pristine area. This practice has created a dangerous cycle in which polluted areas are continually saddled with more and more contamination and residents’ health is put more and more at risk, Bronson noted. The Assembly passed a bill that would require the DEC to publish a list of “high local environmental impact zones” and consider various factors that contribute to an area’s environmental health so that the same communities aren’t targeted time and again (A.1862).

The Assembly package also includes a measure to amend the state constitution to include the right to clean air and water and a healthy environment (A.6279).

“Our health shouldn’t be considered a privilege,” said Bronson. “Access to clean air and water is a right. We need to stick up for our communities and make sure absolutely no one is unjustly forced to live with pollution and damage that cannot be undone.”

Protecting families from harmful chemicals

The Assembly’s Earth Day legislation also:

  • ensures that mercury-added lamps don’t contain excessive amounts of mercury (A.2875); and
  • creates a battery recycling program for consumers and require producers of primary batteries to register with the DEC and establish a recycling plan before they can do business in New York State, reducing the need for mining (A.6280).

“We’re moving in the right direction, but protecting our environment is going to take constant vigilance, commitment and the acknowledgment that climate change is real,” said Bronson. “We made a move in the right direction, but more needs to be done to help our environment prosper.”