Environmental Protection

We address many environmental issues in the Green New Deal and Sustainable Agriculture sections of this platform. Much more must be done.

Restore Funding and Staffing for the Department of Environmental Conservation: DEC is down about 900 positions since Governor Pataki took office and 1000 since its high point. The number of responsibilities (statutory and regulatory) have significantly increased during that period. Restore DEC staffing to at least its high point and perhaps higher in order for it to meet its responsibilities. Stop contracting out DEC operations to private, for-profit firms. Outsourcing reduces accountability and quality, thus raising costs for the state, the environment, and public health. 

No Desalinization Plants on the Hudson River: Stop United Water's proposed rate-increasing, water-polluting, habitat-destroying, energy-intensive desalinization plant at Haverstraw Bay in Rockland County. We can better secure sustainable, clean, and affordable water through conservation, land-use planning, green infrastructure, watershed protection, sewage treatment, smart water metering, and usage-based pricing.

Citizen Enforcement of Environmental Laws: Amend the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to enable broader categories of citizens and environmental groups to bring litigation to enforce environmental regulations.

End Solid Waste Incineration: Garbage incineration is a financial drain as well as a source of dangerous environmental pollution. Rapidly phased out and ban waste incineration. 

A Zero Waste Solid Waste Policy: Enforce existing laws related to solid waste and recycling. Promote reuse and reduction. Oppose incineration and landfills. Require packaging to be reusable if possible, or at least recycable. Require waste manufacturers to be legally and financially responsible for waste disposal. Adopt Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation (also known as product stewardship) to engage manufacturers and importers in the design of products and packaging to reduce waste and toxicity and remove the burden from government and taxpayers.

Provide state technical assistance and financing for the collection and marketing of recycables, including the construction and operation of Material Recovery Facilities. Promote volume-based fees for garbage collection, with recycling for free. Ban waste haulers and municipalities from sending recyclable materials for disposal and instead require recyclables to be source separated and transported to recycling processing facilities.

Establish a secure funding stream to fund sustainable solid waste programs for the long term, create new jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emission reductions. Licensing fees, facility permit fees and surcharges on disposal should all be used to provide dedicated funding. The state should provide technical and financial assistance to enable communities to implement curbside pickup of compostable materials.

Protect Wetlands: Enact legislation to provide regulatory protection of all wetland. Direct DEC staff to update state wetland maps to reflect those wetlands that were not identified when the first state maps were created with old 1980s technology. 

Ban All Terrain Vehicles from State Parks

Protection from Toxic Chemicals: Almost 80,000 chemicals are sold in the United States. We are exposed to many of them on a daily basis in household cleaning agents, personal care products, cosmetics, pesticides, building materials, and packaging. Most remain unexamined and unregulated. The odds are certain that some of these chemicals are very harmful.

Require manufacturers to provide information regarding the chemicals contained in consumer products.

Expand research into the impacts of chemicals used in producing goods on the environment and public health. Apply the Precautionary Principle to these chemicals – don't use until proven safe – instead of the current safe until proven otherwise practice.  New York State can set an example and begin this research. But the problem is so massive that the federal government must support it. New York State should lobby for comprehensive federal action.

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