FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2022
Contact: Bobbi Wilding, Clean+Healthy, 518-708-3875, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBANY, NY — With only a few weeks left for Governor Hochul to sign vital legislation, advocates and bill sponsors gathered, calling on her to sign five key pieces of environmental justice and health policy, which they say will improve New Yorker’s wellbeing.
Environmental leaders across the state call on the governor to sign the following bills into law to safeguard the air we breathe, regulate the siting of environmental facilities, protect New Yorkers from toxic chemicals in their clothing and cosmetics, and reduce electronic waste by avoiding premature disposal:
- Clearing the Toxic Air (S.4371D – Biaggi / A.6150B – Septimo) directs the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to promulgate air quality standards for the emissions of certain toxic air contaminants. On the Governor’s desk, decision must be made by 12/14.
- Cumulative Impacts (S.8830 – Stewart-Cousins / A.2103D – Pretlow) requires regulatory consideration of disproportionate burdens on disadvantaged communities before permitting the siting of environmental facilities.
- Banning PFAS in Apparel (S.6291A – Hoylman / A.7063A – Fahy) bans the use of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ as an intentionally added chemical in apparel.
- Ban on Mercury in Personal Care Products (S.8291A – Brouk / A.8630A – Reyes) bans the sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing mercury.
- Digital Fair Repair (S.4104A – Breslin) / A.7006B – Fahy) requires the disclosure of diagnostic and repair information from manufacturers to independent repair providers and consumers to prevent premature disposal of electronic devices built using toxic materials.
“This year, the NYS legislature passed five important pieces of environmental justice and health legislation that the Governor has yet to sign. Today, we call on her to live up to her commitment to New York’s environment and public health by making these five key bills the laws of the land,” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean+Healthy, which co-leads the JustGreen Partnership. “These policies will remove known cancer-causing chemicals from our air; toxic “forever chemical” PFAS from our clothes; neurotoxic mercury from our personal care products; lift unjust pollution burdens in permitting decisions; and let us extend the usefulness of our electronics, thereby saving people money, supporting small repair businesses, and keeping toxic components out of landfills and incinerators. We urge Governor Hochul to sign these bills today.”
In New York, racist policies and practices such as the denial of home mortgages, discriminatory hiring practices, and voter suppression have resulted in such a staggering level of disinvestment in neighborhoods of color that there is now a clear disparity in the environmental and public health burden borne disproportionately by these communities.
Disadvantaged communities became easy prey for industries to build multiple sources of cancer-causing air pollutants such as factories, power plants, depots, garbage dumps, and trucking centers. While coal-fired power plants and other sources of mercury exposure are more complex to reduce, exposure from cosmetics are easier to eliminate – by enacting and then enforcing laws that prohibit mercury’s use. PFAS, “the forever chemical,” is used in many of our clothing products. As a result, these dangerous toxics have found their way to our drinking water across the state. PFAS, mercury, and air pollutants have a long list of health implications from asthma to cancer.
The use of these chemicals needs to be stopped because, as affirmed by the public’s vote in 2021 to amend the state constitution, every New Yorker has the “right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”
State Senator Samra Brouk, sponsor of the ban on mercury in personal care said: “Exposure to mercury can cause rashes and damage to vital internal organs — this life-threatening chemical has no place in our cosmetics. Since mercury salts stop melanin production, mercury poisoning disproportionately impacts women of color using mercury-containing skin-lightening creams in pursuit of colorist beauty standards. I am proud to have worked with Assemblymember Karines Reyes to pass S8291A in the Legislature, and look forward to Governor Kathy Hochul enacting this legislation for the protection of New York’s women of color.”
Assemblymember Gary Pretlow, sponsor of the Cumulative Impacts bill, said: “First, I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support for my sponsored legislation- A2103D. I, along with my colleagues in the Assembly, Senate and the numerous organizations, am asking Governor Hochul to stick to her promise in advancing action on climate change. We are all aware of the disparities low income communities have had to live with for so long. Treating disadvantaged communities as waste land is simply wrong, a clean environment is a human right; we will continue to mobilize and advocate for environmental justice. The Governor has stated that she would like for our state to be a leader on climate change & environmental justice; I have the same sentiments as she does. Now It’s time for Governor Hochul to stand on her promises and sign A2103D into law this year.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman, sponsor of the ban on PFAS in clothing, said: “PFAS are cancer-causing forever chemicals that do not belong anywhere near our children and families. Their entire life cycle — production, use, and disposal — pollutes our environment. With my bill banning the use of PFAS in apparel, we have the opportunity to lead the nation in combating this threat to our health and environment. I am grateful to Clean + Healthy for their leadership in reducing the presence of these toxins in our daily lives. I look forward to Governor Hochul signing S6291A into law to protect our communities from the lasting harm PFAS cause.”
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, sponsor of the Clearing the Toxic Air bill, said: “For decades, predominantly Black and Brown communities in the Bronx and across New York State have been burdened with toxic air contaminants, contributing to high rates of respiratory diseases. And this was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This piece of legislation will effectively reduce the emissions of toxic pollutants in the air we breathe, and hold corporations accountable for their role in creating excess pollution within vulnerable communities. I strongly urge Governor Hochul to sign this bill into law to protect the health and well being of our most vulnerable communities.”
Assemblymember Amanda Septimo, sponsor of the Clearing the Toxic Air bill said: “The requirements of A6150B provide environmental protections to build accountability and substantive control of air quality in communities like the South Bronx, and other Environmental Justice Communities across New York State. I look forward to Governor Hochul signing this important legislation into law to defend these communities that have been sacrificed due to historically harmful conditions and policies that contributed to the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, sponsor of the ban on PFAS in clothing and the Digital Fair Repair bill said: “New York has led the country with action on cancer-causing, toxic PFAS and other classes of chemicals. New York has the opportunity to become the first in the nation to not only protect New Yorkers from exposure to PFAS in common forms of apparel that often end up in our water supply, but also to reduce disposal and exposure to toxic chemicals also used in the manufacturing of our cell phones by enacting the nation’s first Right to Repair law. Let’s seize this opportunity and make these bills law, and cement New York’s position as a national leader in addressing the proliferation and use of dangerous, toxic chemicals and their resulting waste and impact on our broader environment and the public’s health.”
“We thank our legislative representatives for taking bold action to protect our most vulnerable New Yorkers against the poisons of toxic air and toxic chemicals that surround us,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “By passing the strongest cumulative impacts legislation in the country to stop the racist siting of toxic facilities in Disadvantaged Communities (S.8830/S.2013D), banning mercury in cosmetics (S.8291/A.8630) and cancer-causing chemicals in common apparel (S.6291/A.7063) and so much more, the State legislature has sent a strong signal to the public: New Yorkers should no longer live in toxic environments. Now, we are urging Governor Hochul to seal the deal by signing these Just Green Partnership priority bills into law immediately. Now is the time to protect the health of New Yorkers.”
Kathryn Cappella, President, Learning Disabilities of New York State said: “The time is now for New Yorkers to be further protected from the toxic effects of mercury. The science is clear about the negative and devastating consequences of mercury to children and adults. equally clear are the positive impacts these new responsible laws will make for New Yorkers.”
“A healthy environment and citizenry is essential to a strong economy,” said Bob Rossi, Executive Director of the New York Sustainable Business Council. “These bills represent critical steps such as removing toxic chemicals from frequently used products, setting and enforcing limits on toxic air pollutants, and reducing heavy metal contamination from electronic waste. The cumulative impacts bill establishes safeguards for those communities that are most impacted. The disproportionate impacts of these environmental hazards on our communities further wealth inequality across New York State and create more drag on our social services and overall economy. Our business leaders call on Governor Hochul to sign these bills into law.”
# # #
The JustGreen Partnership is a coalition of about 50 groups representing nearly a million New Yorkers, working together for environmental health and justice for New York’s people and communities. Learn more here: just-green.org.