Assemblyman Kevin Cahill: "Earth Day" Legislation Would Make New York a Cleaner, Healthier Place to Live

April 30, 2003

On the occasion of Earth Day, Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston) announced that the Assembly passed a legislative package aimed at reducing pollution, decreasing the use of dangerous pesticides and promoting water conservation.

Reducing Air Pollution

Among the bills in the Earth Day package that Assemblymember Cahill supported is one that will lead to cleaner burning diesel and home heating fuels (A.3923-A).

"Large amounts of sulfur in fuel lead to air pollution and a host of health problems, ranging from allergy symptoms to asthma and lung cancer," Assemblymember Cahill said. "In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency listed exhaust particles from high-powered engines as a possible carcinogen."

Mr. Cahill noted a study by an association representing air pollution regulators found that exhaust particles from diesel-powered engine exhaust were the likely cause of an estimated 125,000 lung cancer cases during a 70-year period. "These studies show diesel exhaust as a more potent carcinogen than second-hand smoke," he said. "By cutting down on sulfur concentrations in exhaust, we can protect the air millions of New Yorkers breathe."

And to promote clean air further, Assemblymember Cahill helped pass legislation to set performance standards to control power plantsí most harmful emissions (A.5933).

Protecting Our Ecosystem

Mr. Cahill also supported a measure that protects New York from the ecological, agricultural, economic and recreational impacts of invasive species. The zebra mussel is an example of an invasive species that harms native ecosystems, often with devastating effects. The bill (A.6988) creates a 17-member state task force that will report the nature and magnitude of invasive speciesí impact on the environment to the Governor and Legislature and make recommendations for addressing this problem.

Protecting New Yorkers from Harmful Pesticides

Assemblymember Cahill also supported legislation (A.5969) to phase out pesticide use on state property and to promote safer, more environmentally sound methods of pest control. "Too often the unbridled or improper application of pesticides create a hazardous condition as dangerous as the one sought to be corrected," Mr. Cahill said. "Phasing out the use of pesticides and initiating safer alternatives will help eliminate public exposure to this environmentally damaging health hazard."

To protect our urban areas, Assemblymember Cahill supported a measure that would create an urban pesticide board that would make recommendations for legislative action regarding pesticide use and training on pesticide alternatives (A.1110-B). "While pesticides help create healthy and well-groomed lawns, we must ensure that they are not used in ways that are endangering our health," Mr. Cahill said.

Expanding Recycling and Trash Laws

The Assembly passed the Electronic Equipment Recycling Act to help recycle the growing number of discarded, broken and obsolete computers and similar hardware. The measure would create a recycling program within the state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop and implement the most efficient means of collecting and recycling equipment that often contains hazardous materials (A.3633).

"Increasingly across New York, there are tons of computers, monitors and other pieces of electronic equipment filling our landfills. The state needs to take advantage of new methods of recycling and recovery that have become available," Assemblymember Cahill said.

Another measure in the Earth Day package would expand the prohibition regarding the open burning of trash (A.5884). The bill also requires the DEC to publish educational materials on the health and environmental hazards of the open burning of garbage.

Promoting Water Conservation

The Assembly passed a bill (A.4081) that looks to mirror wastewater-recycling programs that have seen success in other states such as Florida, California and Texas. "Across the nation, nearly one billion gallons of wastewater are reclaimed each day through programs similar to what we propose," Mr. Cahill noted. "As demand for water resources grows and shortages increase, it is necessary for us to rethink the value of our water and the potential opportunities for reuse."

Assemblymember Kevin Cahillís Continuing Efforts to Protect Our Environment and Our Health

The Earth Day package is part of the Assemblyís continuing efforts to preserve a healthy environment for New York families. Last year, Assemblymember Cahill supported legislation (A.404-B) directing the state to collect and map information on cancer cases and environmental facilities, such as solid waste and hazardous waste sites -- to help study the possible link between the two. In 2000, he also supported a law requiring notification of pesticide use at schools and day care facilities. This law also authorized localities to enact the notification laws for residential applications.

Assemblymember Cahill consistently receives the highest rating from watchdog groups for his strong advocacy of legislation and programs in support of sustainable environmental policies.