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New York Legislature Graded On Environmental Progress

New York League of Conservation Voters

The New York League of Conservation Voters has issued its “Environmental Progress Report” grading the legislature on its priority issues for the recently adjourned legislative session.

The League’s Environmental Progress Report grades progress on its priority issues from A to C. The legislature’s overall grade was B-. For generalized categories no A was given. The legislature was graded B for its work on sustainable economic development and natural resource protection. It received the lowest overall grade of C in the public health category.  Several individual items of legislation did receive A grades from the League of Conservation Voters, including the Community Risk and Resiliency Act — one of its priorities — invasive species mitigation, and incentives for local wine and beer production.

League President Marcia Bystryn explains that the assessment is based on its policy agenda issued in January. At the end of the session, the legislature is evaluated on how well it performed on those priority issues.  “Despite some real disappointments we had this year, there were some real successes. Now we had identified three pieces of priority legislation. One of those was the Community Risk and Resiliency Act which really helps to prepare communities for future climate change.  That did in fact pass. It got an A. There were several other pieces of legislation where they did very well and there’s some that they did really dismally from our perspective. One of them was they failed to pass the Child Safe Products Act.  So there were highs and lows and they averaged out to a B-minus.”

Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth quips that he would give the legislature a somewhat higher mark. “But it all depends on what bills are most critical to the organization that’s doing the assessment. I think the legislature deserves a great deal of credit for passing the Community Risk and Resiliency Act. That’s a bill that really will focus the state on considering the effects of climate change and extreme weather events. And I think it’s an indication that this state legislature, Republicans and Democrats, take climate change and the impacts in New York State very seriously.”

The Adirondack Council issued an assessment of the legislative session late in June, praising passage of the climate resiliency package and invasive species legislation. Executive Director Willie Janeway says its assessment is similar to the League of Conservation Voters’, agreeing that there was some progress, but the legislature fell short on most fronts.  “We started the session with five major priorities. Number one was the budget, we made some progress on that but not what we were hoping for, and four legislative priorities.  And on the four legislative priorities there was good success on climate resiliency. On invasive species we got half a loaf. There was some great new legislation on aquatic invasives passed and new legislation on signage, but not the funding needed. We also were able to head off a proposal to expand the use ATV’s in the Forest Preserve. And finally on improving and reforming the Adirondack Park Agency there has not been the progress we were looking for there. So, a mixed report card  from the Adirondack Council.”

A link to the New York League of Conservation Voters Environmental Progress Report is here.

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