Assemblymember Pichardo passes legislation protecting water quality, environment

April 25, 2017

ssemblymember Victor M. Pichardo (D-Bronx) announced that he helped pass a series of bills designed to protect our air, water and natural resources in recognition of Earth Day, which was April 22.

“It’s our responsibility to protect the environment and it’s a responsibility I take very seriously,” Pichardo said. “I’m working to make sure that here in New York we’re reducing our pollution, promoting sustainability and preserving our natural resources in order to build a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

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.

In order to protect communities from being burdened with the costs of an expensive cleanup in the event of a dangerous oil spill, the Assembly also passed a bill to institute financial surety measures for owners of crude oil storage facilities, vessels and railroads (A.1773). This is the second time Pichardo has voted for this measure which will ensure that companies transporting oil have the resources to effectively and efficiently respond to a spill or accident.

Historically, low-income communities and communities of color have been disproportionately chosen for new projects with adverse environmental impacts, unjustly putting residents’ health at risk. To address this unfair practice, 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 (A.1862). This is the second time Pichardo has helped pass this bill.

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).

“Low-income communities have been hit hard when it comes to being forced to deal with pollution and contamination,” Pichardo said. “Clean air and water shouldn’t be a privilege for the wealthy – they should be a basic right for everyone, regardless of income or neighborhood. This legislation puts us closer to that goal.”

The Assembly’s Earth Day legislative package also included additional measures to ensure mercury-added lamps don’t contain excessive amounts of mercury (A.2875) and creates a battery recycling program for consumers in New York State, reducing the need for mining (A.6280).