Green groups set out legislative agendas

Two state-wide environmental groups have laid out what they would like to see New York accomplish in 2018, including protecting water quality and pushing the state to move more quickly to renewable energy options.

The New York League of Conservation Voters and Environmental Advocates of New York, which push for green initiatives at a state-wide level, are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to push for more money to support water and air quality, along with infrastructure that would support other environmental efforts.

Both groups said that due to a lack of action at the federal level, New York state and local governments will need to step up their efforts. Both groups call for continued action on topics such as climate change, land conservation and the need for clean water and air initiatives, but each organization also calls for more specific efforts to be undertaken.

NYLCV cited four main objectives, including a fee on single-use plastic bags, like those from take-out restaurants and grocery stores, saying that the bags “are expensive to dispose of, harmful to marine and animal life, and a large contributor to litter.”

EANY is also calling for action on plastic bags, noting that New Yorkers use 23 billion bags each year.

NYLCV says in its annual agenda that the state should implement a food waste law, noting the environmental and cost implications of large amounts of tossed food.

“Food makes up 18 percent of the solid waste stream in New York and significantly contributes to climate change by releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when it decomposes in landfills,” the group said. “We will push for legislation requiring large generators of food waste to donate excess food to food banks and recycle inedible food and food scraps in order to assist food insecure New Yorkers, divert food waste from landfills, and stimulate the market for organic recycling in New York.”

Both groups are also calling on investments in infrastructure, with the NYLCV saying that it will work to pass a fee on any cars entering central Manhattan to help reduce congestion, while EANY says the state should push for more electric vehicles, citing an already growing market.

“As New York shifts its electric vehicle strategy into high gear, which includes having 3,000 EV charging stations by 2018 … we are far from the pace necessary to meet the Governor’s goal of having 850,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025,” EANY said in a press release.

EANY also would like the governor to follow through on his 2016 plan to close the remaining coal-fired power plants in the state, as well as develop a comprehensive, long-term plan to increase off-shore wind farms, warning “New York is in danger of falling behind. Without a clear long-term procurement strategy and investments in port infrastructure offshore wind projects and the jobs that come with them, states like New Jersey, which is planning on powering 1.5 million homes by offshore wind by 2030, will leave us behind.”

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