2012 named as one of worst years for environmental legislation

Courtesy of Ed Yourdon

The Environmental Advocates of New York issued their annual Voters’ Guide, naming 2012 as one of the worst in recent years for the state’s environment.

The guide divided all of the proposed bills regarding environmental problems from 2012 into Super Bills, Tree Bills and Smokestack Bills. The guide defines the Super Bills as those that should be legislative priorities, Tree Bills as those that will benefit New York’s environment if passed and Smokestack Bills as those that may cause harm to New York’s environment if passed. It also includes a summary of all the bills, how far each bill was able to reach in the legislative process and the votes of all the assembly and senate members.

The report pointed to 2012 as one of the worst years for New York with the reasoning that the state passed three Smokestack Bills in Congress and failed to pass any Super Bills. It also stated that both houses of the Legislature passed fewer bills this year than in any year since at least 1914.

“For the first time, since 2006, not a single Super Bill was signed into law,” said Saima Anjam, government affairs program associate for the Environmental Advocates. “Bills like the ‘Global Warming Pollution Control Act,’ which would place limits on [carbon dioxide] emissions and an amendment that would close a loophole on hazardous waste disposal all passed in the Assembly but died in the State Senate.”

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David Frank, a NYU assistant professor of bioethics, also said 2012 was generally a bad year for environmental politics.

“Politicians and the broader public discourse focused almost exclusively on immediate economic problems, often doing little in response to these while also ignoring long-term and short-term environmental concerns,” Frank said.

Gallatin senior Robert Raymond said it is unfortunate that the government does not recognize the long-term consequences of current environmental issues.

“People need to understand how grave the problems are,” he said.

The Voters’ Guide also scored every member of the New York State Legislature based on the bills they supported or opposed. It named Assemblyman and State Senate candidate Sean Hanna of Mendon, a Rochester suburb, as the winner of their Oil Slick Award, giving him the lowest score out of all the assembly and senate members. The guide also stated that he has opposed all bills that would limit greenhouse gas
pollution in New York.

“He’s voted against every bill we’ve supported and for almost every bill we’re against,” Anjam said.

Hanna, currently a Republican member on the State Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee and a former regional director of the Department of Environmental Conservation under Governor Pataki, questioned the validity of the scoring.

“[The Environmental Advocates of New York is] comprised of fringe Democrat activists, and they hurt the environmental cause by alienating entire populations of reasonable people,” Hanna said in a statement.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 18 print edition. Andrew Karpan is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected] 

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