Yes, Earth Day was technically on Sunday. But with lawmakers returning to Albany today, a coalition of 25 environmental organizations held their 22nd annual Earth Day lobbying event, pushing lawmakers to pass a handful of bills that target everything from hydrofracking to bottle deposits.
The groups—led by Albany standbys like Environmental Advocates of New York and the New York Public Interest Research Group—hosted a number of speakers in a hearing room before sending the crowd of several dozen on its way to meet with lawmakers.
Among those who spoke were state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and the chairmen of the Legislature’s two environmental conservation committees: Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, D-Suffolk County.
DiNapoli, who as an Assemblyman chaired the Environmental Conservation Committee, emphasized his office’s role in several shareholder actions, including a class-action lawsuit against BP following the Gulf oil spill. The state’s pension fund, which DiNapoli’s office oversees, is invested in a number of energy companies.
He said the pension fund has invested about $1 billion in clean energy technology.
“Especially at a time where we’re still dealing with a tough economy, sometimes people are tempted to make very short-term decisions that don’t make sense in the long term,” DiNapoli said. “But the issues you’re advocating are very much focused on our future.”
Video of DiNapoli’s speech is below, while the five bills pushed by the environmental organizations can be found after the jump.
The five bills, with descriptions courtesy of the groups behind the lobby day effort:
- The Child Safe Products Act (A.3141-A) would protect New York’s children from toxic chemicals by better regulating the use of chemicals in kids’ products. The legislation would create an infrastructure to categorize chemicals of concern, prioritize based on the likelihood of exposure, and require disclosure by manufacturers as to whether children’s products contain priority chemicals.
- The Environmental Protection Fund Enhancement Act (S.5403-A / A.7137-A) would increase resources allocated to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by phasing in unclaimed deposits collected by the state through the Returnable Beverage Container Law-the state’s most successful recycling program-over four years.
- The Solar Industry Development & Jobs Act (A.9149) would create thousands of new solar jobs and jumpstart investment in New York’s growing solar energy industry by requiring state utilities and energy-service companies to supply an increasing percentage of their electricity from solar, ultimately resulting in 5000 MW on the grid by 2026-enough to power more than 500,000 homes and reduce as much carbon pollution as taking nearly three million cars off the road.
- The Global Warming Pollution Cap (A.5346 / S.2742) would require that climate-altering pollution from all sources is cut by 80 percent by the year 2050. This target reflects the greenhouse gas level reduction that scientists say will help us avert the worst impacts of climate change.
- The Fracking Hazardous Waste Loophole (A.7013 / S.4616) would end special exemptions that allow the gas industry to circumvent requirements for hazardous waste disposal, including fracking wastes. This bill would update state law so that all waste resulting from gas drilling that meets the definition of hazardous waste be treated as such and subject to all regulations related to its generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal.