Declares a policy of equal treatment of people of all races, cultures, religions, incomes, education levels and sexual preference in the development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to declaring a policy of equal treatment in development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies
PURPOSE: This bill will ensure that the environmental philosophy and policy which guides the State of New York provides environmental justice for all people regardless of their political or economic strength.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one amends the declaration of policy statement in the general provisions of the environmental conservation law to ensure that people of all races, cultures, religions, incomes, education levels and sexual preferences are treated equally with respect to our State's environmental laws; and that no population is forced to be disproportionately exposed to pollution or be deprived of locally accessible open space. The declaration of policy is further amended to remove an unintended gender bias in subdivision 3 of section 1-0101 of the environmental conservation law.
EXISTING LAW: Existing law does not explicitly provide for environmental justice considerations.
JUSTIFICATION: In 1987 the Commission for Racial Justice of the United Church of Christ published a study which found that minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by exposure to pollution from environmental hazards. This study found that minority neighborhoods, even more than poor neighborhoods, are saddled with an unfair share of incinerators, dumps, factories and other sources of pollution. This is a condition and practice known as "environmental racism." As the City of New York embarks on finding new locations for solid waste transfer operations, the prospect looms that minority communities will be exposed to even more pollution. This will happen at the expense of losing opportunities for creating new open spaces in neighborhoods terribly underserved by neighborhood green spaces.
Without being unduly restrictive, this broadly applicable law would provide environmental justice to minority and disadvantaged communities by affirming their legal right to equal protection under the law to a healthy and clean environment. Opportunities for economic growth and prosperity in disadvantaged communities would not be precluded by this legislation.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2007 Referred to Environmental Conservation 2008 Referred to Environmental Conservation 2010 Passed Senate (S.4407) 2011 REFERRED TO ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION 2012 REFERRED TO ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 193 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. SQUADRON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Environmental Conservation AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to declaring a policy of equal treatment in development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The opening paragraph of subdivision 1 of section 1-0101 of the environmental conservation law is designated paragraph a and a new paragraph b is added to read as follows: B. IT IS FURTHER THE POLICY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK THAT PEOPLE OF ALL RACES, CULTURES, RELIGIONS, INCOMES, EDUCATION LEVELS AND SEXUAL PREFERENCE BE TREATED EQUALLY WITH RESPECT TO THE DEVELOPMENT AND ENFORCEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS, REGULATIONS AND POLICIES. IT IS A BASIC RIGHT OF ALL NEW YORKERS TO LIVE AND WORK IN SAFE, HEALTHFUL, PRODUCTIVE AND AESTHETICALLY AND CULTURALLY PLEASING SURROUNDINGS. THIS POLICY IS BASED ON THE CONCEPT OF FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS, WHICH IMPLIES THAT NO POPULATION SHOULD BE FORCED TO BEAR A DISPROPORTIONATE SHARE OF EXPOSURE TO THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF POLLUTION OR BE DEPRIVED OF LOCALLY ACCESSIBLE OPEN SPACE DUE TO LACK OF POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC STRENGTH. S 2. The opening paragraph of subdivision 3 of section 1-0101 of the environmental conservation law is amended to read as follows: It shall further be the policy of the state to foster, promote, create and maintain conditions under which
[man]PEOPLE and nature can thrive in harmony with each other, and achieve social, economic and technolog- ical progress for present and future generations by: S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD00244-01-3