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NYLCV Releases Statewide Policy Agenda
New York Ag Connection - 01/03/2018

Each year, the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) and the NYLCV Education Fund work closely with New York's leading environmental, public health, conservation, energy, environmental justice, and transportation organizations to identify the state's most pressing priorities on fighting climate change, conserving land and water, and protecting public health. The result of that effort is the 2018 Statewide Policy Agenda.

This agenda will drive NYLCV's advocacy work throughout the legislative session as it pushes for budget appropriations and legislation.

The organizations' 2018 agenda charges the legislature and executive with four distinct but interconnected directives: ensure adequate funding for the environment, address the causes and effects of climate change, protect the health of New Yorkers and their communities, and conserve natural resources. Though NYLCV and NYLCVEF will support nearly fifty policies this year, the organizations have identified the issues below as top priorities.

In response to the agenda's release, NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn said: "With environmental policy stalled at the federal level, we will continue to lean on state and local governments to fill the leadership void. Climate change poses catastrophic threats to our health, environment and economy, while exposure to lead and other toxics can cause irreversible damage to our most vulnerable. Cuts to environmental efforts might seem penny-wise but they are pound-foolish. While Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature will have to make difficult decisions in preparing this year's budget, we expect them to be both creative and steadfast. They must explore new ways to generate revenue, such as congestion pricing and a fee on single-use bags, and they must protect dedicated funding streams such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Environmental Protection Fund. After a successful 2017, we look forward to another year of fruitful collaborations and meaningful progress."

NYLCV and NYLCVEF have identified the following priorities for inclusion in the FY 2018-2019 Budget:

- Food Waste: Food makes up 18% of the solid waste stream in New York and significantly contributes to climate change by releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when it decomposes in landfills. We will push for legislation requiring large generators of food waste to donate excess food to food banks and recycle inedible food and food scraps in order to assist food insecure New Yorkers, divert food waste from landfills, and stimulate the market for organic recycling in New York.

- Congestion Pricing and Funding Mass Transit: The New York City subway system is not in adequate condition to serve a large and growing city, and its failures encourage commuters to use less environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. At the same time, traffic congestion in Manhattan is worsening and harming both public health and the State's fight against climate change. We will advocate for a fee on all vehicles entering Manhattan's central business district in order to ease congestion and raise desperately needed funds to help bring the subway system into a state of good repair.

- Reduce Single-Use Bags: We will push for statewide legislation to reduce carryout bag waste through a fee on all single-use carryout bags. Single-use bags are expensive to dispose of, harmful to marine and animal life, and a large contributor to litter.

- Protect Children from Toxic Chemicals: The federal government's retreat from environmental protection is particularly evident, and harmful, in children's exposure to toxic chemicals. We will push to protect children from lead by urging the State to issue permanent, strong regulations on lead in public schools and supporting legislation to lower the definition of elevated blood lead level so that more children are treated for lead exposure. We will also advocate for legislation requiring manufacturers of children's products to disclose if their products contain potentially harmful chemicals.

- Funding for the Environment: NYLCV is once again urging a $300 million allocation for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The historic $300 million commitment made to the EPF for the past two years reaches every corner of the state and drives progress in nearly every area of environmental policy. The success of the EPF must be continued by fully funding it at $300 million.

- Continued Leadership on Clean Water: The $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 is a significant down payment to address our enormous green and gray water infrastructure needs. It is important that the $500 million already allocated for the 2018-2019 budget be spent smartly, efficiently, and in a timely manner. NYLCV is requesting that the full $500 million clean water infrastructure allocation for 2018-2019 be disbursed on time and that the state continues to work with advocates and municipal governments to find ways to improve these programs.

Progress on these and other priorities will factor into the bills included in NYLCV's 2018 State Environmental Scorecard. NYLCV is also the only statewide organization that uses the power of endorsements to hold elected leaders accountable for their environmental track records. The results of this legislative session will also factor into NYLCV's endorsements in statewide and legislative elections in 2018.

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