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 the development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies
PURPOSE: Development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. This bill will ensure that the environmental philosophy and policy which guides the State of New York provides environmental justice for all people.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Bill § 1 amends the declaration of policy statement in § 1-0101(1) of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) to ensure that all people, regardless of race, culture, national origin, income or community of residence, shall be treated equally with respect to development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, and should be free from any disproportionate exposure or risk of exposure to pollution and from the cumulative negative impacts resulting from over-concentration of polluted sites or regulated environmental facilities, nor should people be deprived of locally accessible open space or other environmental benefits due to lack of political or economic strength.
Bill § 2 further amends the declaration of policy to remove an unintended gender bias in ECL § 1-0101(3).
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Bill § 1 is amended to more closely align the policy statement in § 1-0101 with environmental justice policies adopted by other states and other levels of government.
EFFECTS OF PRESENT LAW WHICH THIS BILL WOULD ALTER: The ECL currently does not address environmental justice concerns.
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 was a result of differential levels of political and economic resources available to these communities.
Over the past two decades, it has become apparent that (as described by the US Environmental Protection Agency): "Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." It is also increasingly recognized that all people should be free from disproportionate exposures or risks of exposure to pollution, including from the disparate
concentration of contaminated sites or hazardous operations in their neighborhoods, and that environmental benefits should be equitably distributed. This bill would establish these worthy principles in the ECL.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2012: Senate Bill 1973 (Gianaris) - Died in Senate Rules Committee Environmental 2012: Assembly Bill 1645 (Kavanagh) - Died in Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee 2010: Assembly Bill 8432A (Gianaris) - Died in Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 620 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. GIANARIS -- 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 the development and enforce- ment 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 ALL PEOPLE, REGARDLESS OF RACE, CULTURE, NATIONAL ORIGIN, INCOME OR COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE, SHALL BE TREATED EQUALLY WITH RESPECT TO THE DEVELOPMENT, IMPLEMENTATION 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 OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS BASED ON THE CONCEPT OF FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS THAT ALL PEOPLE SHOULD BE FREE FROM ANY DISPROPORTIONATE EXPOSURE OR RISK OF EXPOSURE TO POLLUTION, AND FROM THE CUMULATIVE NEGATIVE IMPACTS RESULTING FROM THE DISPARATE CONCENTRATION OF POLLUTED SITES OR ENVIRONMENTAL FACILITIES LICENSED, REGULATED OR APPROVED BY STATE AGENCIES, NOR SHOULD PEOPLE BE DEPRIVED OF LOCALLY ACCESSIBLE OPEN SPACE OR OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS 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. LBD01375-01-3