This year's Earth Day Lobby Day at the State Capitol will focus on critically important environmental issues such as expanding solar energy, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting New York from the dangers of fracking. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has a preview.
The 22nd Annual Earth Day Lobby Day will be held tomorrow in Albany - it is being sponsored by many of New York's most active environmental groups including the Sierra Club and The Adirondack Mountain Club - the day-long program kicks off at 10am with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and the Environmental Conservation Chairs of the Legislature... Dan Hendrick is the Communications Director with the NY League of Conservation Voters: he says the groups expect a huge turnout for the event, focusing on five of the environmental community’s top priorities:
- 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.
Laura Haight, Senior Environmental Associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group notes that public awareness of environmental issues has never been greater. Bob Sweeney chairs the New York State Assembly Environmental Committee - nine bills in all will be presented tomorrow before the full assembly for debate and passage.
Sweeney expects all of the bills in the "Earth Day Package" to be passed Wednesday - all will then go the Senate for consideration there.