(Albany NY) –Today, Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster/Dutchess) joined colleagues in the State Assembly to approve a legislative package that would provide greater environmental protection and continue New York’s storied history of environmental conservation. 

The legislative program included bills to amend the New York State Constitution to ensure that clean air and water are treated as fundamental rights (A.6279 Englebright), prohibit offshore drilling in New York’s coastal waters (A.9819 Englebright) and a measure (A.1862 People Stokes) that would require the Department of Environmental Conservation to publish a list of ‘local environmental impact zones’ where there are high chemical exposure, air pollution, and hazardous waste sites.  Also, included is the Climate and Community Protection Act (A.8270B Englebright) a comprehensive approach to positioning New York to address climate change by requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation to develop statewide greenhouse gas emission limits and require fifty percent of electrical generation by load serving entities regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC); the Power Authority of the State of New York (PASNY) and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) be produced by renewable energy systems by 2030. 

Assemblymember Cahill, former Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee, voted in favor of each of the bills. “Today’s package is consistent with the Assembly’s commitment of promoting environmental stewardship while protecting the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers.  I was proud to have a leading role in the development of the Green Jobs / Green New York program that directed funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and has trained thousands New Yorkers to promote energy efficient building retrofits.  The legislative program approved is aligned with this work and the efforts made each day by individuals in our region protecting the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River,” stated Assemblymember Cahill.

“As our legislative chamber continues to be environmental leaders, we must build on this progress to mitigate the immediate threat that is climate change.  I will continue to push for measures that tax pollution through a carbon tax (A.107), expose subsidies given to fossil fuel companies (A.8675) and invest in our State’s parks through the Pennies for Parks Program funded with a fee on single-use plastic bags (A.46).  I am proud that we in the Assembly, under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Steven Englebright as Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee continue to champion responsible legislation that will bring real change,” concluded Assemblymember Cahill.

When asked about today’s votes, environmental advocacy groups responded with praise.  Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “With the passage of today’s Earth Day agenda the Assembly continues to demonstrate what real climate and environmental leadership looks like.  Assemblymember Kevin Cahill has long been a key contributor to that leadership by being at the forefront on issues related to renewable energy, carbon pollution and plastic waste.  We look forward to partnering with the Assemblymember and his colleagues to see that these important measures become law this legislative session.”

Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center said, “We should be proud to live in a State where the environment is so highly respected and where we see real leadership on pressing environmental issues.  Assemblymember Kevin Cahill has long been a key leader for the environment by pushing the envelope on issues related to renewable energy, carbon pollution and plastic waste, while always being committed to the protection and enhancement of our unique Catskill Park and its Forest Preserve. We look forward to partnering with the Assemblymember and his colleagues in the Assembly to continue our environmental gains in the State of New York.”

Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York said, “As the federal government moves away from providing a regulatory safety net for our environment and the effects of climate change on our parks and trails become more apparent, it is great to see the New York State Assembly taking proactive environmental protection measures through the introduction of the Earth Day agenda today.  Parks & Trails New York lauds Assemblymember Kevin Cahill and his colleagues for ensuring New Yorkers can continue to enjoy our wonderful parks, beaches, and trails for generations to come.”

Russ Haven General Counsel with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) said, “In this age of unprecedented environmental challenges, Assemblymember Cahill has been a smart, forceful and consistent voice leading in the fights to preserve open space, aggressively shift New York away from subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and moving the state towards a renewable energy paradigm.”

The measures, all of which passed with large bipartisan margins, face an uncertain fate in the New York State Senate.  Please contact Assemblymember Cahill’s Albany Office to learn more about any of the measures passed in the Assembly’s ‘Earth Day’ package at (518) 455-4436.