NY's Senior Senator Engages Issues
New York Senator Chuck Schumer has been making headlines on several fronts -
Schumer put in an appearance at Plug Power, where he called for a federal Investment Tax Credit for fuel cell purchases, set to expire at the end of the year, to be extended. He called the credit a "critical stimulus for the company’s success." "And by the way if we don't renew it, your business will keep going, but it's going to give an incentive to other places. Japan, for instance, they're trying to take this business away. And they'll give a credit and we won't have a credit and that will hurt us. Hurt us in a lot of different ways."
Schumer says the coal and oil and gas industries are opposed to continuing the credit, and vows to "put all the weight" that he has in the Senate to secure the renewal for Plug Power.
The Democrat explained there is support on both sides of the aisle favoring an extension, and his strategy for getting the legislation through involves adding the fuel cell tax credit to a Federal Aviation Administration "must pass" bill.
WATCH: @SenSchumer at @plugpowerinc
During his visit, Schumer addressed the PFOA problem in Hoosick Falls, saying Saint-Gobain needs to do more - take responsibility and disclose the full extent of the water contamination. "There's a cloud of fear and uncertainty hanging over the residents of Hoosick Falls because they're worried about the future. Well, only a cooperative and transparent Saint-Gobain can turn that uncertainty and fear into facts first - what are all the facts - and second, a plan for quick cleaning up of this mess. Not to point fingers and say 'let them do it, let them do it,' but steppin' up to the plate and getting it done."
A Saint-Gobain spokeswoman says the company ceased use of PFOA at its Hoosick Falls manufacturing facilities in December 2014. Schumer says the company bought the plant so the onus is on them to clean up the site. "We need them to be helpful in identifying the scope of pollution remediation. No cover up. No hiding. And then we have to make sure that they solve the problem. There'll be the state and federal and local agencies to help them, but they caused it and it's their responsibility to clean it up and clean it up quickly."
He further urges Saint-Gobain to stop listening to their lawyers and listen to the public or he'll "come down 'em like a ton of bricks."
Schumer also turned to the crisis surrounding the Zika virus. He says the federal government must act quickly to contain it. He suggests that the U.S. Agency for International Development increase its involvement in some 20-plus Zika-affected countries. "We've asked the NIH and CDC to come up with both a test and a cure. A test so you could test anyone when they got on a plane, say form Brazil, and if they had it, do something about it. We don't have either a test or a vaccine, but there are private companies who want to do it. They haven't really put their oomph into it because these are poor countries and they can't get enough of a market. But with the Federal government's cooperation, NIH and CDC they could."
The World Health Organization declared a "public health emergency of international concern" Monday over the Zika virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects.
Meanwhile, Schumer promises New Yorkers he'll stay focused on his home state if he becomes leader of the Democrats on Capitol Hill when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid steps down later this year.
Speaking at a New York State Association of Counties meeting in Albany, he said "nothing will change" as far as his relationships with local leaders and residents.
Schumer instructed leaders that should they need him for "anything" all they have to do is "pick up the phone and call."