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Clock About to Run Out on Environment in Albany

PHOTO: Demonstrators protesting hydrofracturing in New York. A bill on that issues is awaiting a move to the Senate floor for a vote. Photo credit: Loren Baum
PHOTO: Demonstrators protesting hydrofracturing in New York. A bill on that issues is awaiting a move to the Senate floor for a vote. Photo credit: Loren Baum
June 20, 2013

NEW YORK CITY - The 2013 legislative session is nearing its end in Albany, but Environmental Advocates of New York is holding out hope that several environmental measures will make it to the Senate floor for a vote. Deputy Director David Gahl said there is legislation concerning hydrofracturing, climate change and child safety ready for an "up or down" decision.

"We've got a bill that would protect children from toxic chemicals in the products that they use every day. The environmental agenda is banging on the door of the State Senate chamber, but the Senate leadership isn't letting it through," Gahl said."

Opponents have said the legislation would place an unfair burden on companies that produce the chemicals that could be banned. Gahl pointed out that the child-safety measure has 34 co-sponsors, and only 32 "yes" votes are needed for passage. He accused Senate leaders of not allowing the legislation to proceed to the floor for a vote.

Recent storms such as Sandy, Irene and Lee have given New Yorkers a taste of what could be in store if the state does not get a handle on climate-change pollution, he warned, but legislation to address that issue is also stuck.

"We've got a bill that would reduce the emissions that are causing climate change," he said, "ultimately producing the storms that ravaged New York, like Hurricane Sandy, and that one is stalled as well. "

Probably the easiest issue for lawmakers to address is hydrofracturing, or "fracking," Gahl said, because a new poll released this week shows 52 percent of upstate residents oppose moving forward on that method of extracting natural gas.

The bill numbers are: Fracking moratorium, S4236; Child Safe Products, S4614; Climate Protection Act, S725.

The Siena College Research Institute poll was part of a survey on a range of issues. It is available at www.siena.edu.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY