News - New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators


Legislators Make Bipartisan End-Of-Session Push To Pass Environmental Laws

ALBANY – Today, members of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NYSCEL) called for passage of several key bills before the end of the regular legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn next week.

Each of the bills, backed by members of NYSCEL – a nonpartisan bicameral caucus chaired by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, – has both Republican and Democratic sponsors, and most have advanced in one or both houses.

Child Safe Products Act (Englebright/Boyle, A05612/S4102 – Passed Assembly, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee)
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would publish a list of chemicals found in items meant for children that pose a risk to human health. Manufacturers of children’s products would be required to notify retailers when the merchandise they are selling contains one of the listed chemicals. Sale of children’s products that contain the most harmful chemicals would be banned.

Microbead-Free Waters Act (Schimel/O’Mara, A05896/S3932 – Passed Assembly, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee)
This bill would ban the sale or distribution of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads, which are micro-sized pieces of plastic found in some facial and body wash products that slip through municipal water treatment plants and into bodies of water throughout the state. The beads enter the food chain where they can be mistaken for food by fish and they are capable of absorbing toxins that pose a serious threat to human health and wildlife.

Hazardous Waste Loophole Bill (Englebright/Avella A06859/S0884 – On Assembly floor, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee)
More than 500,000 tons and 23,000 barrels of fracking waste have been transported from Pennsylvania to New York landfills. This waste is often hazardous because it can be toxic and flammable and contain chemicals, metals, benzene, and other dangerous substances. Yet our state’s environmental regulations inexplicably exempt waste from oil and gas drilling from being treated as hazardous waste regardless of the actual hazard it poses. The bill would require a comprehensive analysis of waste to determine whether its chemical content and characteristics make it hazardous. Such waste would be properly tracked and disposed of only at facilities equipped to safely handle it.

Paint Stewardship (Peoples-Stokes A03304 or Stirpe/O’Mara, A06199/S4926 – In Assembly Ways and Means and Environmental Conservation Committees respectively, on Senate floor):
About 10% of paint purchased in New York goes unused. This results in about 3.1 million gallons of leftover paint each year in New York State. These bills would create a take-back program for leftover paint similar to those established for electronic waste, rechargeable batteries, and thermostats.

Financial Liability for Crude Oil Storage (Fahy/Avella, A07625/S05751A – In Assembly Codes Committee, in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee):
The storage of crude oil has increased dramatically nationwide over the past five years. This is a result of rail transport’s increase from over 9,000 carloads of crude oil in 2008 to over 400,000 in 2013, expanding the need for safe and secure storage facilities. This bill would require companies have financial security to meet all responsibilities for cleanup and decontamination costs associated with the release of such oil.

Community Solar Program (Paulin/Griffo, A07964/S5841 – In Assembly Energy Committee, in Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee):
Many New Yorkers are interested in improving the environment and protecting electric system reliability through the use of solar energy, but up-front costs and space limitations prevent many from owning or leasing their own solar energy systems. This bill would create a pilot program allowing electric corporations to offer subscriptions for solar power.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh said, “There’s enough time left in the session to pass these widely supported, critical environmental reforms. It should not be controversial to protect children from toxic toys, to stop contaminating our waterways with plastic beads, to handle toxic waste safely, to promote clean renewable energy, or to accomplish the other objectives we’re discussing today. I am proud to stand with fellow members of NYSCEL today, calling for enacting these laws before we adjourn the legislative session.”

Senator Phil Boyle said, “As we consider a variety of issues in the closing days of session, we must not lose sight of the opportunity to take substantial steps to protect New Yorkers from toxic toys and other environmental dangers, and to keep our waterways, our air, and our communities clean and healthy.”

Senator José M. Serrano said, “Protecting our environment for future generations is not a partisan issue. My colleagues from both sides of the aisle, and from both houses are committed to working together to create and pass legislation that protects and enhances our environment while protecting public health. We are united in the common goal of pushing key environmental bills that will make this planet a better place for our families, our neighbors and for future generations to come.”

Senator George Latimer said “Every one of these bills should be a priority for the Legislature to pass and implement, and the sooner the better. Environmentalism is about protecting our planet and ourselves now and in the future. We must get serious and stop Albany’s incessant gamesmanship.”

Assemblymember Patricia A. Fahy said, “As debate wages on regarding so many major issues here in Albany, we cannot lose sight on ensuring that legislation that protects and empowers our environment passes both houses before the end of session, including my bill on Petroleum Storage Surety bill and the Crude Oil Shipment Reporting bill. I’m pleased to have the support of the caucus in moving these bills forward. I continue to urge the rest of my Assembly colleagues to support these important pieces of legislation as we close out this year’s session.”

Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said, “Several pieces of important environmental legislation await action in the Legislature in the final days of this session. New York must adopt a more comprehensive approach to regulating toxic chemicals in children’s toys, address efforts to increase solar energy in communities, close loopholes in our hazardous waste disposal and deal with the safety issues of crude oil transportation. Leadership in both houses must step up and bring these bills for a vote so that New York can advance a more progressive environmental agenda that protects our state’s resources, our children and our families.”

Assemblymember William Colton said, “As a lifelong advocate for environmental protection and justice, I urge my fellow colleagues and fellow New Yorkers to commit to and embrace environmental conscientiousness and activism. It is our duty to protect the environment we live in, which we are symbiotically dependent upon, by actively leading the charge to correct the damages we have made as part of our human footprint, address climate change, as well as set the standards and apply the imperative reforms required to achieve a thriving and healthy natural environment. To do so, we must commit to reducing, reusing, and recycling waste; commit to 100% green energy systems; and reinvent our approach from just existing in our natural environment, to responsibly coexisting with our natural environment. We must have a new Green Revolution and correct the negative impacts already made by living in a way that significantly reduces and ultimately eliminates the environmental destructions which threaten our health and our environment. To achieve this we must embrace holistic ecological approaches by passing legislation to achieve these goals.”

Founded in January 2014, NYSCEL is a nonpartisan organization of environmentally progressive members of the Senate and Assembly representing districts throughout the State. The organization is a forum for elected officials to consider various legislative and policy issues related to preserving and protecting the environment and public health. NYSCEL holds periodic meetings among members, hosts speakers, and plans other events to educate elected officials and the public and focus attention on the need for action on environmental and public health issues.

CONTACT: Anna Pycior, pressoffice.ad74@gmail.com, 914-330-1103

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Members Of NYSCEL To Participate In People’s Climate March

NEW YORK – Members of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators will march this Sunday in the People’s Climate March, which is expected to be the largest climate march in history.

The march, through the streets of Manhattan, is timed with the UN Climate Summit. Over 1,400 organizations are co-sponsoring this day of action, with solidarity events being held globally.

Founded in January 2014, NYSCEL is a nonpartisan organization of dozens of environmentally progressive members of the Senate and Assembly representing districts throughout New York State. The organization is a forum for elected officials to consider various legislative and policy issues related to preserving and protecting the environment and public health.

The following members of NYSCEL will gather in the staging area at 66th Street and Central Park West for the 11:30am kickoff and proceed through the march route, which ends at 34th Street and 11th Avenue (this list is in formation):

Assemblymember Deborah Glick
Assemblymember Dick Gottfried
Senator Brad Hoylman
Senator Liz Krueger
Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (NYSCEL Chair)
Assemblymember Barbara Lifton
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz
Assemblymember Michelle Schimel
Senator José M. Serrano
Representatives for Assemblymembers Sandy Galef and Michael DenDekker

For media availability surrounding and during the march, please contact Anna Pycior at 914-330-1103 or pressoffice.ad74@gmail.com.

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50 Legislators Call For Tough National Climate Pollution Standards

Members of Caucus of Environmental Legislators Lead Effort Urging Feds to Sharply Cut Power Plant Emissions

Contact
Assemblymember Kavanagh: Anna Pycior, pressoffice.ad74@gmail.com, 914-330-1103
Senator Boyle: Christine Geed & Krista Knoblauch, 631-665-2311

Albany, New York—A bipartisan coalition of 50 New York State legislators wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging that the agency adopt tough national standards to cut climate-disrupting power plant pollution.

Organized by New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NYSCEL) Chair Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) and Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), and joined by many NYSCEL members and other legislators representing districts across the state, the letter was submitted to the EPA to formally comment on the agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants (EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0495).

The legislators note that New York—which has felt the dire impact of climate change—has set standards for power plant carbon pollution and has reaped economic, health, and environmental benefits as a result. These standards and New York’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have contributed to a reduction in carbon pollution by 35% and raised over $600 million, much of which has been dedicated to green jobs, clean power, energy efficient homes and businesses, smart growth planning, and sustainability. The legislators called for the EPA’s proposed standards to be strengthened to meet or exceed those already in effect in New York.

The letter also notes that the EPA’s own finding that carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas pollutants endanger public health ought to compel action on a national scale. The agency has clear authority under the Clean Air Act and rulings by the US Supreme Court to regulate greenhouse gas pollution by limiting climate pollutants.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh said, “The Environmental Protection Agency should not be deterred from living up to its name and protect our global environment by regulating greenhouse gas pollution. As we know all too well in New York, climate change and the extreme weather events associated with it can have a disastrous impact on our environment and our economy—and can sometimes cost people their homes and even their lives. States like New York have taken the lead in regulating air pollution. It’s past time for the federal government to set strong national standards.”

“The current rate of greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere is unacceptable,” commented Senator Phil Boyle. “That is why I join fellow NYSCEL members in urging the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate these hazardous emissions and in the process, protect all New Yorkers. I would like to thank NYSCEL Chairman Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for joining me in this crucial effort.”

Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “Since New Yorkers are experiencing the health and environmental impacts of a changing climate, it is great to see the breadth of support being expressed by our legislators for national climate action. We know that setting carbon pollution limits on power plants is doable and it is time for the rest of the nation to adopt the standards that New York has lived by for the past six years.”

The letter is attached and is available online here.

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WXXI Public Radio Reports on NYSCEL on Earth Day Lobby Day

Owls Among Attendees at Earth Day in New York
By Karen Dewitt

Earth Day was celebrated at the state Capitol, with  a tribute to the late Pete Seeger, and a display of live owls.

Activists gathered at the Capitol to lobby for environmental issues and to hear musicians David Bernz and Dan Einbender pay tribute to Pete Seeger, who passed away in January.  In recent years, Seeger had appeared at  the Capitol to protest against hydrofracking,  which has been on hold in New York . Bernz says when Seeger performed just last year at a Farm Aid event, he added  something new to the Woody Guthrie standard, the verse “New York was made to be frack free”.

The controversy over the natural gas drilling process has sucked all of the oxygen out of the room for other environmental issues for the past few years, as Governor Cuomo and his top commissioners continue to deliberate over whether to allow fracking in New York. Currently, there’s an ongoing review conducted by the health department.

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who recently formed the non partisan Caucus of Environmental Legislators says there are other issues of concern as well.

“Fracking is a tremendously important issue and I think it’s a singular achievement that New York State has managed to be thoughtful and careful about that in a way that many other state haven’t ,” Kavanagh said. “But we have huge issues related to climate change.”

He says laws regulating toxic chemicals in consumer products  have not been updated since the 1970’s. And he  says the state’s Brownfields Act, which helps recover polluted and abandoned factory sites, needs renewal.

There’s also concern over the increased oil tanker trains rolling through upstate New York and ending at the Port of Albany and the potential danger of explosions. Assemblyman Kavanagh says the rapid increase in the number of oil tank cars is a sign of what he sees as a larger problem, the inability to wean ourselves from fossil fuels.

“We’re using more and more aggressive efforts to extract, to transport and to burn those fuels,” Kavanagh said.

Earth Day also coincided with Adirondack Day at the Capitol, and a display that included live owls. Katherine Murphy, with Adirondack wildlife, says the short eared owl that perched on her falconer’s glove is in decline, because unlike barn owls, it can only nest in grass lands.

She says the best way to help preserve owls and other birds of prey, though, is to refrain from using pesticides to kill mice, rats and other rodents.

“It’s horrible,” said Murphy, who says the anti-coagulants also are “lethal” to birds that eat the poisoned rodents.

Assemblyman Kavanagh and other environmental advocates say they hope next year, state lawmakers will approve an environmental bond act, to generate more funding, and focus attention on environmental issues.


Legislative Gazette Reports on Newly Formed NYSCEL

The creation of NYSCEL was reported on by the Legislative Gazette on February 3, 2014.

The full article is available here.

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Legislators form state environmental caucus
By Matthew McKibben
February 03, 2014

Assemblyman Kavanagh will serve as the chair of the The New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators, which is made up of 31 Democrats and 3 Republicans.

A nonpartisan group of 34 lawmakers have formed the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators, an affiliate of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

The caucus held their first meeting last week under the leadership of Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, D – Manhattan. NYSCEL members include Sen. Mark Grisanti, R – Buffalo and Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, D – Lindenhurst, the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committees.

“As chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, it’s my pleasure to take part in this new and exciting caucus,” Grisanti said. “NYSCEL will help facilitate important conversations between members about the pressing environmental concerns we face across the state.”

Legislators say they formed NYSCEL to consider various legislative policy issues related to preserving and protecting the environment and public health. The caucus expects to hold periodic meetings among members, host speakers and attempt to educate the public and elected officials on the need for action on environmental and energy issues.

“I am confident that NYSCEL will be a powerful resource for legislators who are committed to environmental preservation and the wellbeing of our communities,” Kavanagh said. “By bringing together legislators from across the state with a variety of expertise, we will deepen our common understanding of the environmental challenges we face and our commitment to addressing them.”

The caucus, which consists of 31 Democrats and three Republicans, has yet to issue an official agenda for this legislative session.


City & State Reports on Creation of NYSCEL

The creation of the NYSCEL was reported in the “Heard Around Town” section of City & State’s morning newsletter on January 31, 2014.

The full newsletter is available here.

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Heard Around Town: First Read
By City & State
January 31, 2014

Key environmental issues have a new avenue to reach the floor of the state Legislature with the recent formation of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators. The 33-member group is made up of lawmakers from both parties and both houses. Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, NYSCEL’s chair, expects discussions within the caucus to help build consensus on which environmental issues are important and which ones can be accomplished. “A lot of the work in the Legislature happens within conferences or very formal settings like public hearings or committees,” Kavanagh said. “We think there’s a lot of value in getting people in the room from different parts of the state, different expertise, different houses and parties and sharing perspectives and possibly identifying ways we can act together.” Though high-volume hydraulic fracturing has taken center stage, Kavanagh said that issue alone was not the impetus for the group, nor its sole focus. “I expect we’ll be working on issues involving exposure to various toxins, urban sprawl (and) some of the issues that arise in agriculture settings,” he said. “We really do expect this to be addressing the full range of environmental issues.”


Time Warner YNN Reports on New Environmental Caucus

Nick Reisman of YNN reported on the formation of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

The article is below; the original version is available here.

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Lawmakers Launch Environmental Caucus
By Nick Reisman
January 30, 2014

A caucus of 33 lawmakers has been formed to back progressive environmental goals, the group announced on Thursday.

The New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators is billed as a “non-partisan” forum to consider measures aimed at protecting both the environment and public health.

The group was organized by Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who will chair the caucus. More leadership is expected to be announced.

The group also includes Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti and Long Island Democratic Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, both of whom chair their respective Environmental Conservation committees in the Senate and Assembly.

“I am confident that NYSCEL will be a powerful resource for legislators who are committed to environmental preservation and the wellbeing of our communities,” Kavanagh said in a statement. “By bringing together legislators from across the state with a variety of expertise, we will deepen our common understanding of the environmental challenges we face and our commitment to addressing them.”


Capital NY Reports on NY State Caucus of Environmental Legislators

Scott Waldman reported in Capital NY on the launch of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

The article is below; the original version is available here.

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Kavanagh Chairs New Environmental Caucus
By Scott Waldman
January 30, 2014

The state legislature now has a 33-member, bipartisan environmental caucus.

The New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators announced itself today in a press release, with members drawn from both parties and from the state Senate and Assembly.

The caucus will push progressive environmental legislation and policy issues, and will hold educational outreach sessions for elected officials and the public.

Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh of Manhattan will chair the caucus; it includes the chairs of the environmental conservation committees in both chambers. All but three of the members are Democrats.

The group has a website at: http://www.nyscel.com


Press Release: New York Legislators Form Non-Partisan Environmental Caucus

New Lawmakers Group, Affiliated with National Caucus, Will Consider New York’s Environmental and Energy Challenges

NEW YORK–Thirty-four members of the New York State legislature announced the formation of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NYSCEL), a nonpartisan group of environmentally progressive Senators and Assemblymembers representing districts throughout New York.

The legislators formed NYSCEL as a forum to consider various legislative and policy issues related to preserving and protecting the environment and public health. The Caucus expects to hold periodic meetings among members, host speakers, and convene other events to educate elected officials and the public and to focus attention on the need for action on environmental and energy issues.

The first meeting of NYSCEL, held last week, was organized by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, who will Chair the Caucus, with additional leadership to be announced. NYSCEL members include Senator Mark Grisanti and Assemblymember Bob Sweeney, the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committees.

The legislators also launched a website (www.nyscel.com), Facebook page (Facebook.com/NYSCEL), and Twitter account (@NYSCEL). The new State Caucus and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (www.ncel.net) have agreed to affiliate their respective organizations. Various environmental advocacy organizations made statements (below) welcoming the new Caucus.

“I am confident that NYSCEL will be a powerful resource for legislators who are committed to environmental preservation and the wellbeing of our communities,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. “By bringing together legislators from across the state with a variety of expertise, we will deepen our common understanding of the environmental challenges we face and our commitment to addressing them. I thank my colleagues, who have already shown tremendous leadership on so many environmental issues, for joining NYSCEL, and NCEL Executive Director J.R. Tolbert for helping to make that national organization such an appealing partner for our state-level efforts.”

“As Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation committee, it’s my pleasure to take part in this new and exciting caucus,” said Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Mark Grisanti. “NYSCEL will help facilitate important conversations between members about the pressing environmental concerns we face across the state.”

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Bob Sweeney said, “I am delighted to work with the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators on issues that matter to New York State. From the beaches of Long Island to the Adirondacks, New York State’s environment remains a national treasure and an economic engine that is unparalleled. This caucus is a great opportunity to ensure these resources are available for future generations.”

Senator Kevin Parker, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee, said, “New York State is uniquely blessed in the quality and quantity of our natural resources, and in the beauty of our great state. I look forward to working with my Senate and Assembly colleagues in NYSCEL to improve New York’s air and water quality, protect our precious natural resources, and encourage and create incentives to achieve a sustainable ‘green’ vision for New York’s future. My thanks to Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh for his leadership in establishing New York’s first caucus of environmental legislators.”

“I have been associated with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators for close to ten years,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo. “The formation of a New York State Caucus will allow us to better interact with state legislators from across the country, sharing ideas and learning how other states have addressed various environmental issues.”

“As an active member of the NCEL I applaud Assemblyman Kavanagh for launching this NY State caucus. Our first meeting has already yielded important and formidable objectives,” said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel.

Senator Phil Boyle said, “As a founding member of NYSCEL, I eagerly join with the most environmentally conscious members of the legislature to address issues and challenges we face here in New York State. Through our united efforts, we will work toward solutions to help improve our environment and protect our most cherished natural resources.”

“The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is excited to assist pro-environment legislators in New York in forming this new Caucus,” said JR Tolbert, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “The commitment of this bipartisan group of legislators to advancing sound environmental policy will certainly help to strengthen environmental protection in New York, and we hope to replicate their model in statehouses across the country.”

Senator José M. Serrano said, “Protecting our environment for future generations is not a Democratic or Republican issue. That’s why I’m so proud to be a part of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators, with our unified goal of passing legislation that protects and enhances our environment while protecting public health. We have many fights ahead, and I look forward to working closely with our Chair, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, as well as my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and from both houses to meet these challenges.”

Assemblymember Luis Sepúlveda said, “The creation of the NYSCEL makes it possible for all members advocating for the environment to come together and exchange ideas and legislation easily between one another. It means that New York will now have a strong group of legislators who know just how important protecting our environment is. I am excited to begin working with the caucus to ensure that environmental issues receive the attention they deserve.”

“I represent an area where agriculture and tourism across our beautiful wilderness is a major part of our economy,” said Assemblywoman Addie Russell. “I couldn’t be more thrilled that we are forming this caucus because we need to do all that we can to ensure that our environment is looked after so that it can continue to sustain our economy.”

“Protecting our environment for future generations should be a priority for legislatures across the country,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “I am proud to join Assemblymember Kavanagh and my colleagues in government in hitting the ground running with this new, important effort.”

“I am so excited to be a part of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “With the newly formed caucus, New York State will be able to tackle, in a more coordinated way, some of the most pressing environmental issues currently facing us, including fracking, climate change, radon exposure from natural gas pipelines and expanding the use of clean, safe and renewable energy sources in our state. My thanks to Assemblymember Kavanagh for organizing the caucus.”

Laura Haight, Senior Environmental Associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group, said, “Kudos to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh for initiating this environmental caucus and to all the members who are participating. This will provide a valuable forum for state legislators to reach across the aisle and review, discuss, and work together to improve laws protecting New York’s environment and public health.”

“A stronger environment means a New York that’s better in countless ways,” said Senator Daniel Squadron. “That’s why I’m proud to be a part of the new NYSCEL, and will continue to work with my colleagues toward a statewide ban on fracking and the many clean energy and climate change bills that are vital to New York’s environment and public health. Thank you to Assemblymember Kavanagh and all of my colleagues for their leadership.”

Assemblymember Steven Otis said, “Protecting our environment for future generations is the shared responsibility of all New Yorkers. As a lifelong environmentalist, I’m pleased to be part of this bipartisan effort to set the priorities that will help conserve our natural resources and preserve our majestic land and waterways for all to enjoy.”

Assemblymember Walter Mosley said, “I am proud to be a part of this esteemed group of legislators fighting to protect the health and quality of life of New Yorkers across our state. I look forward to working with my colleagues during this legislative session to put forth bold, progressive policies that address climate change and the harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing, so we can preserve New York State for generations to come.”

“It is critical that we protect our environment and public health across New York State,” said Senator Carl L. Marcellino. “I am proud to be a member of NYSCEL and look forward to working with my colleagues on meaningful solutions to important environmental concerns.”

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said, “I am proud to be one of the founding members of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NYSCEL), which will be an excellent mechanism for New York State legislators to come together and be further educated about the critical environmental issues we face. The New York Caucus will be linked to the national NCEL as we seek solutions to the environmental crises and concerns at all levels–state, national and global.”

Senator Liz Krueger said, “At a time when ‘polar vortex’ has entered our vernacular and global climate change has never felt more imminent, it’s critical that we work together as legislators to do everything we can, as quickly and with as much focus as we can bring to bear, to move our states and our country as a whole in a more sustainable direction. I hope with the formation of this caucus here in New York, we can act decisively to promote more widespread use of solar and other renewable energy sources, stop any movement toward hydrofracking, and ban the use of carcinogenic and environmentally-damaging materials such as styrofoam.”

Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “In recent years it has been difficult to move common-sense environmental legislation through both houses and to the Governor for his signature. This coalition, led by Republicans and Democrats from both chambers, has the potential to change the dynamic, advance meaningful protections, and ease the gridlock. I applaud the legislators who have opened the door to undertaking this very important partnership, particularly Assemblyman Kavanagh for spearheading this important initiative. It’s time for action and the NYSCEL provides the pathway for legislators to deliver for their constituents.”

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee said, “It is essential that as advocates for policy, which will preserve and protect the environment and public health, we stand together, speak out and educate the public and other elected officials about the environmental issues affecting our communities. That is why I am pleased to be a member of this non-partisan environmental caucus and look forward to working with my colleagues on these vital issues.”

“I look forward to partnering with my colleagues in both houses and both sides of the aisle to maintain robust funding for our state’s Environmental Protection Fund, defend our state from climate change and hydrofracking, and fight for proactive measures to ensure a more sustainable future. I heartily commend Assemblymember Kavanagh for convening this caucus. By working together to set priorities and devise strategies, we’ll have more power to protect our environment,” said Senator Brad Hoylman.

“Protecting and preserving our state’s natural resources for future generations is nothing short of essential. I’m proud to be one of the founding members of this caucus and look forward to collaborating with fellow legislators to increase advocacy for critical environmental and energy issues facing the New York State,” said Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.

Assemblymember Steven Englebright said, “This exciting new venture by members of the NYS Legislature will enable us to share information on environmental and energy initiatives with each other and expand our outreach to legislative representatives across the country through the NCEL network. This network will vastly improve our ability to produce cutting-edge legislation to protect and enhance New York’s environment.”

“It’s an honor to be a founding member of the New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald. “Protecting our environment is a crucial legacy we need to pass onto future generations, and I look forward to the pursuit of thoughtful and meaningful environmental policy in New York with my colleagues in the caucus and throughout the legislature.”

Assemblymember Tom Abinanti said, “With environmental concerns pushed off the front pages by economic news, we must be even more vigilant that economic progress is not used as an excuse to despoil our air, water and land.”

“It’s heartening to see such a strong demonstration that protecting the environment transcends partisan politics,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. “Regardless of one’s age, gender, race, geographic location, education level, or economic standing, we all breathe air. We all drink water. We all care about our family’s health. We all live on this earth.”