Lawmakers act on New York state Environmental Bill of Rights

April 30, 2019 08:06 PM

ALBANY - Clean air, clean water, and a clean, healthy living are things many of us take for granted and things all of us expect. Now, they are things that are all guaranteed by New York State's Constitution.

"There's never been more of a need for this national leadership then right now," said Kathleen Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership. "I've never been happier than I am right now to live in the great state of New York."

Curtis' main crusade for years has focused on eradicating toxic chemicals in products manufactured for her children and grandchildren.

"This toddler's furniture contains flame retardant chemicals that have been linked to cancer," she said, holding up a child's plush toy chair at a Capitol news conference on Tuesday. "This is an example of a toy that could be on a shelf and there could be one right next to it that's perfectly safe and yet this one could contain a toxin."

Senator Todd Kaminsky (D - Long Island) held up a Lion King costume that he says will never be worn by another child in New York.

"This contains antimony and has a zipper made of cadmium," Kaminsky pointed out. "Just another example of something that a young person would be putting on their body or in his or her mouth at a point in their life where their system is just developing."

The Child's Safe Products Bill will establish strict regulations on toxic chemicals in children's products.

"We're going to live healthier lives going forward because of today," said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, "When I think about a day like today, I think about those advocates who I have worked with over the last several decades fighting for clean air protections, fight to get toxins out of toys that kids are exposed to and knowing that some people who have been exposed to that stuff have either had a disease or died prematurely."

"The Senate finally has a majority that accepts science and the reality of climate change," asserted Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D- Yonkers). "We've been talking about this for 10 years. It's a shame that it took that long and a leadership change for us to be at this moment for this legislation to pass."

"Discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons," stated Senator David Carlucci (D - Nanuet), "The constitutional amendment is about protections for all of us and our environment, but also for the New Yorkers to come, for all of our children and their children, that they will be able to benefit from the beauty of this state, and no longer will we put profits or development before our environment."

The Senate passed all 13 bills on Tuesday. The Assembly passed seven before calling it day just after 6:00 p.m. The lower house will return to the floor at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to finish.

NYPIRG's Environmental Police Director Liz Moran calls it "a new day for the environment and the health of New Yorkers." She also urges swift passage by the governor.

MORE INFORMATION: New York's Environmental Bill of Rights and more


Dan Levy

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