NYS Budget brings good news for environmental health

April 12, 2017

 

The 2017-2018 budget, passed by the Assembly and Senate and signed by Governor Cuomo, holds some important pieces for everyone concerned about harmful chemicals in our air, water, soil, buildings, products, and bodies. A spectacular $2.5 billion is provided for clean drinking water for all New Yorkers. Our advocacy contributed to good news in the renewed $300 million Environmental Protection Fund:

 

$4 million in funding for the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute to help companies go beyond regulations to minimize use and waste of toxic chemicals, energy, and water. For the first time, this budget explicitly includes $100,000 in funding for the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse, a multistate organization focused on tracking and identifying alternatives for chemicals of concern by state agencies. Clean and Healthy New York helped co-founded the IC2 and is a supporting member.

 

$6.5 million dedicated to environmental health for assessments, testing and actions including abatement to address suspected human exposure to chemical, physical and microbiological agents, including contaminants in drinking water. This is an increase from $3 million allocated in 2016-17. It includes the following sub-allocations:

  • Renewal funding for $2 million for

  • $1,000,000 for SUNY Stony Brook to support research into a project to , a cancer-causing personal care and cleaning product contaminant, in water (a particular problem on Long Island)

  • Up to $625,000 to to bring more local, fresh, nutritional food to underserved neighborhoods across New York State (an emerging priority and early win for CHNY)

  • Up to $500,000 for the CleanSweep NY program to (including pesticides) from New York  farmers and owners of former farms, all categories of NYS certified pesticide applicators, cemeteries, golf courses, marinas, and other entities possessing unwanted or unusable pesticides and other waste chemicals. 

  • $500,000 to land banks to assist with

In addition, in the budget negotiations, the Assembly, Senate, and Governor agreed to create a new public health law to identify and test for emerging contaminants in drinking water, stating: “Industry and modern technology have created thousands of new chemicals that would not otherwise exist in nature. Although some of these chemicals have proven benefits, the effect of many such chemicals on human health is unknown or not fully understood.”

 

Chemicals in household materials end up in waste water, and are not treated at sewage treatment plants. This can include contaminants of personal care products like 1,4 dioxane, perfluorinated chemicals including PFOA, and flame retardants in foam, fabric, and electrical devices. Testing for these emerging chemicals of concern will help document their flow from innocuous-seeming products into the broader environment and back into our homes in drinking water. As many of these chemicals can also be toxic to aquatic life, remediation can help prevent harm to wildlife while protecting public health.

 

In addition to progressive reforms in New York State’s 2017-2018 budget such as raising the incarceration age and providing for tuition-free college, protecting our health and environment from harmful chemicals is a big job, made larger by regulatory rollbacks and proposed budget cuts occurring at the federal level. New York’s leadership and dedication to action at the state level is a critical component as we move forward.

 

We applaud the Governor, Senate and Assembly for their dedication. Excelsior!

 

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