ALBANY – New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris on April 29 announced the Senate passed two of his bills to address public health and environmental concerns. Senator Gianaris’ bills were passed right after the world celebrated Earth Week, a 7-day long observation of fighting the climate crisis, and on the eve of President Biden’s first address to Congress where he is expected to promote efforts to replace lead pipes throughout the country.
“The clock is ticking on our planet’s health and we must take aggressive action today if we are to solve the climate crisis,” said Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris. “I am pleased the State Senate has made protecting our environment a priority since day one, including passing the nation-leading CLCPA, and continues to fight for even better and more creative solutions to our shared existential challenge.”
Senator Gianaris passed these bills this week:
Mandating Lead Testing in Parks: S.1256-A requires that all drinking water fixtures in state and local parks be tested for lead every three years and, if lead contamination is found, abatements need to be made within 90 days.
New York City alone has more than 3,500 drinking water fixtures in city parks, before even considering those in state and local parks throughout the state. Lead exposure can cause serious illness and injury to children, and scientists have recently stated consuming lead at any level can be a risk. President Biden has made eliminating lead pipes a major priority of his American Jobs Plan currently before Congress.
Expanding Environmental Enforcement: S.1237 would close a loophole in the Environmental Conservation Law by allowing the state to prevent environmental malfeasance by seeking more aggressive enforcement and injunctive relief.
For example, state law governing Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas acknowledges the need to regulate development and construction in those areas to prevent erosion. But, because the law does not state a specific penalty for violations, the DEC Commissioner can only levy a fine where, in some circumstances, revoking permits or requiring the violator to change or demolish a structure may make more sense.
Senator Gianaris has been an environmental champion throughout his public service. With Senator Gianaris serving as Deputy Majority Leader, the Senate enacted the CLCPA, a historic law to combat the climate crisis. The CLCPA mandates aggressive reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions, improves resiliency efforts, ensures local job creation through energy transition, and promotes environmental justice by controlling the regressive impacts of climate change mitigation. He has been recognized for his efforts with perfect scores from Environmental Advocates Action and the League of Conservation Voters.
Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, who sponsors the S.1256-A’s companion bill in the state Assembly, said “Lead risk mitigation strategies are among the most common sense and cost-effective public health interventions we can make. We must ensure that our kids have access to safe water in our parks by improving testing to find and abate lead in our water fountains. This is a necessary step to a lead-free New York, and I would like to thank the advocates and Senator Gianaris for their tireless work moving this urgent issue forward. I look forward to carrying this legislation over the finish line in the Assembly.”
Florence Koulouris, District Manager for Community Board 1 said, “Senator Gianaris has always stood up for our parks and our environment, and we are pleased the Senate is passing these bills this week. We look forward to continuing to work together for a stronger western Queens.”
Lisa Deller, Chair of Community Board 2 said, “During the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen an increase in the utilization of the parks in our community. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Senator Gianaris to protect the environment and maintain our parks. We thank Senator Gianaris for pursuing this legislation.”