NYLCV 2012_Progress_Report by CelesteKatz

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									Environmental Progress Report

              2012 NEW YORK STATE


   for the
           New York League of Conservation Voters

         ABOUT THE

         NYLCV is the only nonpartisan, statewide
         environmental organization in New York that takes a
         pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water,
         healthy air, renewable energy and open space.
         We're effective because we:
         a Educate public officials about the steps they
           should take to improve the environment;
         a Evaluate the performance of elected officials; and
         a Endorse and elect environmental leaders.

               New York League of Conservation Voters
                        30 Broad St., 30th Fl.
                        New York, NY 10004
                       Phone (212) 361-6350
                         Fax (212) 361-6363

                      Marcia Bystryn, President
                  Ricardo Gotla, Legislative Director

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                  2012 Environmental Progress Report

                        Executive Summary
In January, the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) issued its 2012
New York State Policy Agenda. That agenda encompassed a diverse set of legislative
and policy goals to help New York build a clean-energy economy and foster
sustainable development.

Of the more than 40 recommendations made in the Policy Agenda, NYLCV
emphasized four legislative priorities as being the most critical: increase the
Environmental Protection Fund's (EPF) resources; close a loophole to better regulate
hydraulic fracturing waste; pass the Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know Act; and obtain
a commitment from the Legislature and the governor to create a robust, long-term
solar program. These priorities were the focus of NYLCV’s advocacy during the
session and are given special consideration in determining the grades in this report.

The 2012 legislative session delivered mixed results. While the Legislature passed
two of these four priorities — Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know and EPF funding —
closing the hazardous waste hydraulic fracturing loophole failed to advance beyond
the committee level. The greatest letdown was the lack of progress on a long-term,
robust solar program for New York.

Despite a golden opportunity to negotiate an energy package that also included
enhancing the state's carbon cap-and-trade program (the Regional Greenhouse Gas
Initiative, or RGGI), the Legislature and the governor failed to come to an agreement
before the session concluded. Some smaller clean-energy bills passed nonetheless;
The Legislature adopted an important solar tax credit as well as a technical fix to
track renewable energy credits.

The Legislature deserves credit for advancing sound environmental and small yet
meaningful energy policies in a challenging year. In particular, NYLCV applauds
lawmakers' decision to increase environmental funding to the tune of $56 million —
the first increase to the EPF in several years. The Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know Act
will also help address chronic water-quality concerns.

However, as the lack of progress on climate change and solar energy underscores,
Albany needs to sharpen its focus on environmental issues and begin to formulate
solutions to address New York's long-term sustainability challenges.

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             New York League of Conservation Voters

                     How the
              Legislature Performed
            Natural Resource Protection                          B
            Public Health Protection                             B
            Clean-Energy Economy                                 C
            Transportation                                       B
            Climate Change & Air Quality                         C

            OVERALL                                              B

                                 Ratings Key

                          A: Achieved all policy goals.

                      B: Achieved most of the policy goals.

               C: Some progress shown in meeting policy goals.

         D: Prior gains in this policy area were significantly diminished.

                  F: Actions were harmful to the environment.

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                  2012 Environmental Progress Report

             Natural Resource Protection
                       Grade: B
  Pass legislation to require retained deposits on unredeemed containers to be
       deposited into the Environmental Protection Fund (S.7525/A.10519).

                                  GRADE: A
          Passed Assembly, June 20, 2012; Passed Senate, June 21, 2012.
                      Awaiting action from Gov. Cuomo.

                This legislation requires unredeemed deposits retained under the
    x           Returnable Beverage Container Law, commonly known as the
                "Bottle Bill," to be directed into the Environmental Protection Fund
                (EPF) to provide greater funding for its various programs. These
                additional proceeds would be phased in gradually, starting with an
                additional $10 million in fiscal year 2013-2014 and increasing to $56
million by fiscal year 2018-2019.

        Ensure adequate funding for the Environmental Protection Fund.

                                     GRADE: B

The EPF is a centerpiece of New York's environmental efforts, supporting drinking-
water protection, municipal parks and recycling programs. Two years ago, the EPF’s
budget was cut nearly 40 percent. This year, many advocates feared further
reductions because of Gov. Cuomo’s stated goal of closing an overall state budget
gap of $2 billion. Despite cuts in other areas of the state budget, however, the EPF
was maintained at $134 million, the same as last year.

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               New York League of Conservation Voters

                Preserve the land protection programs in the EPF.

                                   GRADE: B
  Despite discussions of possibly “zeroing out” important EPF land protection
                      programs, funding was maintained.

The principal land protection programs funded by the EPF were kept at previous
years’ levels: parks and recreation at $52.5 million and the open space program at
$70.6 million. Both of these programs are essential to the preservation of valuable
habitat resources, as well as recreational and natural water-management functions.

  Pass legislation that provides for the uniform treatment of crude oil and gas
                          drilling waste (S.4616/A.7013).

                                    GRADE: C
                       Passed Assembly, February 13, 2012;
                       Stalled in Senate Rules Committee.

This legislation would amend the Environmental Conservation Law to require the
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to define all wastewater
                produced from gas drilling as hazardous. The change would require

    x           any wastes produced by hydraulic gas fracturing to follow the same
                regulations for transportation, treatment, storage and disposal as
   NYLCV hazardous wastes generated by other industries. This would prevent
  Priority the mishandling of contaminants like the chemicals commonly used
     Bill       in the fluids injected into shale formations during hydraulic
                fracturing, and empower the state to better regulate substances that
threaten the environment or public health. The legislation would apply to drilling
waste generated in-state as well as any waste accepted from out of state.

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                  2012 Environmental Progress Report

       Pass legislation to strengthen the prevention, spread and control of
                      invasive species (S.6826-A/A.9422-A).

                                 GRADE: A
 Passed Senate and Assembly, June 19, 2012. Awaiting action from Gov. Cuomo.

Invasive species have the ability to out-compete native species, diminish biological
diversity and change whole ecosystems. The significant effects of invasive species
are a real threat to New York's many parks and waterways. This legislation will
require the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to regulate the sale,
purchase, possession, introduction, importation and transportation of invasive
species. Penalties for those who violate these regulations are also enforced by this

                 Public Health Protection
                         Grade: B

      Pass the Sewage Pollution Right-to-Know Act (S.6268-D/A.10585-A).

                                 GRADE: A
 Passed Assembly and Senate, June 21, 2012. Awaiting action from Gov. Cuomo.

              The current procedures for notifying the public about discharges of
    x         partially treated or untreated sewage are inadequate. The public
              needs better knowledge of the contaminants, pathogens, bacteria,
  NYLCV and toxins that exist when sewage pollutes their waterways. This
  Priority legislation requires publicly owned sewage treatment plants to
     Bill     report any discharges to municipal governments, state agencies and
              the public. This requirement will help ensure New Yorkers are
aware of any potential health risks and enable them to make knowledgeable
decisions about where and when to recreate.

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                 New York League of Conservation Voters
        Pass regulations to prevent toxic chemicals in children's products.

                                      GRADE: B
                           Passed Assembly, April 25, 2012;
              Stalled in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

This legislation requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to
establish a Web site that lists all chemicals that are of high concern to children’s
health. Manufacturers and distributors of children’s products must report the
presence of any of these chemicals in their products, as well as the intended use of
the product, the amount contained and the likelihood of health effects. After two
years, this bill would ban the sale of any children's product containing these high-
concern chemicals. Currently, New York State regulates toxic chemicals on a chemi-
cal-by-chemical basis, making it very difficult for DEC to keep pace with a quickly
evolving industry.

                     Clean-Energy Economy
                            Grade: C

 Pass legislation to enable taxpayers to qualify for a solar equipment tax credit
                    for leased solar systems (A.34-B/ S.149-B).

                                  GRADE: A
         Passed Assembly January 10, 2012; Passed Senate June 20, 2012.
                      Awaiting action from Gov. Cuomo.

This legislation will extend the tax credit for purchasing solar-generating systems to
include leasing solar equipment and purchasing power that is generated by solar
photovoltaic systems. Currently, there is a primary residence tax credit up to
$5,000. The extended tax credit will stimulate a larger demand for solar equipment
and create local jobs. It will also make solar energy a more viable option for
residents who cannot meet the up-front costs of purchasing solar equipment.

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                   2012 Environmental Progress Report
           Pass the New York Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act.
                             (S.4178-A or A.5713-C).

                                     GRADE: C
                      Stalled in Assembly Energy Committee;
          Stalled in Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

                The intent of the Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act is to lay
    x           the groundwork for a long-term, robust solar energy expansion.
                Such a plan would return New York to the top of the national solar
                market, thereby making the state more energy-independent, open-
                ing new job opportunities and leading the clean-energy economy.
                Currently, New York's Northeastern neighbors far outpace New York
in terms of installed solar capacity. At the end of the legislative session, there was a
window of opportunity for the Legislature and Gov. Cuomo to negotiate a deal that
would have achieved the goal of the Solar Jobs Act. However, in the eleventh hour,
that window closed when both houses and the governor failed to demonstrate the
leadership necessary to advance a bold and progressive energy plan.

 Pass legislation for the development of a renewable energy credit certification
   and tracking system by New York State Energy Research and Development
                           Authority (A.6114-C/S.3872-C).

                                  GRADE: A
          Passed Assembly, May 21, 2012; Passed Senate, June 21, 2012.
                      Awaiting action from Gov. Cuomo.

This legislation requires the state, with NYSERDA as the lead, to develop a tracking
system for generation attribute certificates. These certificates are created for each
megawatt-hour of electricity generated in New York and can include information
such as fuel source. The certificates are often bought and sold to fulfill state
renewable energy mandates and by members of the public (individual or corporate)
to show support for clean energy and to reduce “carbon footprints." The sale of
certificates can help provide revenue to renewable-energy generators. A system to
track the sale of generation attributes helps ensure a reliable and consistent market
for certificates from renewable-energy generators.

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               New York League of Conservation Voters

                              Grade: B

Ensure Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) dedicated funds are used for their
          intended purposes and not swept into the general fund.

                                    GRADE: B
In the previous two budget cycles, millions of dollars in dedicated MTA funding
    were diverted into the general fund. This year saw an end to the pattern
                            of MTA budget sweeps.

A properly funded mass transit system is essential to maintaining a strong regional
economy and workforce, and connects New Yorkers to essential services.
Siphoning monies intended for the MTA exacerbates service cuts and rate hikes,
making it increasingly difficult to provide reliable mass transit for New Yorkers. We
applaud the Legislature and governor for not sweeping transit dollars this year.

Implement a strategy to fund the remaining three years of the MTA Capital Plan.

                                     GRADE: A

A robust capital construction plan is essential to ensure a state of good repair for
the nation's largest mass transit system. In order for the MTA to raise the required
dollars to fully fund its five-year capital program, the authority required approval
from the governor and the Legislature to increase its debt cap. The parties reached
an agreement that would raise the cap and pledge $770 million in state support.
While NYLCV believes strongly that Albany must do more to create a stable, diverse
revenue stream for mass transit, we applaud the Legislature and Gov. Cuomo for
allowing the MTA to move forward.

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                  2012 Environmental Progress Report

             Climate Change & Air Quality
                       Grade: C

      Pass the Global Warming Pollution Control Act (S.2742-B/A.5346-A).

                                    GRADE: C
                         Passed Assembly, April 25, 2012;
            Stalled in Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

The Global Warming Pollution Control Act directs the Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) to establish a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit. The
first cap, in 2013, limits annual GHG emissions at a baseline of 1990 levels.
Thereafter, GHG emissions will be set at a percentage of that baseline, with a goal
of a 20 percent reduction by 2020 and an additional 10 percent reduction every five
years after that. The ultimate goal is to sustain an 80 percent reduction below the
1990 baseline by 2050.

    Maintain the integrity of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

                                   GRADE: B
 In previous budget cycles, RGGI proceeds were diverted into the general fund;
                          that did not occur this year.

RGGI is a cap-and-trade pact created by 10 states (nine currently participate) to
lower the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by power plants. Proceeds from
RGGI’s carbon auction are used to advance clean-energy innovation, new
technology development and related business and job creation. RGGI proceeds
also help consumers lower their energy consumption and save on utility bills.

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© 2012 New York League of Conservation Voters

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