- Dozens of Groups to State Senate: Don’t Turn New York Into West Virginia!

For Immediate Release: January 17, 2014Travis Proulx: tproulx@eany.org or 518-462-5526 x238

Dozens of Groups to State Senate: Don’t Turn New York Into West Virginia!

Health, Labor, Environmental & Community Groups Oppose Dangerous Senate Rollbacks

Albany – More than 60 of the state’s leading health, family, labor, environmental and public interest organizations and community leaders have joined forces urging state Senate co-Presidents Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein to halt the Majority Coalition’s dangerous plan to arbitrarily repeal thousands of public health protections for the benefit of special interests.

The letter states:

The regulatory rollback package proposed by the Majority Coalition is dangerous public policy and we urge you to withdraw the bills in the interest of public health, communities, and the environment. The proposal would undermine longstanding, finely-tuned public interest protections, by creating a fast-track process favorable to commercial interests that is not conducive to fair, informed treatment of environmental, consumer and public health concerns. 

The full letter can be found at http://bit.ly/KatSX1.

Advanced just days after a toxic spill in West Virginia left hundreds of thousands of people without clean drinking water the Majority Coalition’s reckless plan would arbitrarily place broad-based and hard-fought expert protections on the chopping block in a blatant giveaway to industry.

Among the dozens of organizations calling on Senators Skelos and Klein to stop their rollbacks are the American Lung Association of the Northeast, Consumers Union, CWA District One, Environmental Advocates of New York, Fiscal Policy Institute, Moveon.Org, Police Benevolent Association of New York State and the Working Families Party.

Katherine Nadeau, policy director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “Public health and environmental protections should not be viewed solely through the lens of asserted economic development. New York is not West Virginia, and it is unfortunate leaders of our state Senate would let the complaints of special interests trump the public interest. These protections aren’t the result of some mischievous regulatory elf lurking the halls of the Capitol – they come from bills passed and heralded by the same Senators now seeking their repeal. They should stop playing politics with people’s lives.”

One measure facing repeal is the landmark Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) of 2006 – a law championed by current Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Long Island). When the Senate passed it the law drew the support of health, environment and business interests because it would reduce dangerous diesel pollution from state vehicles while creating manufacturing jobs upstate. Since claiming credit for passing the law, senators have led efforts to delay its implementation. Its full rollback is now touted by these same senators as a benefit to industry.

William C. Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council said, “The Adirondack Council supports regulations that protect New York's clean water, clean air, working forests and farms, and healthy communities. Smart regulations keep the Adirondacks forever wild and everyone, including businesses, benefit. We urge the state Senate to table the proposed roll back of regulations that protect our families, our children and our health. Every one of the Adirondack Park’s 130 small communities depends on a healthy environment and scenic beauty for its survival. Generations of New Yorkers have worked hard to establish these regulations in an effort to leave behind a world that is cleaner, healthier and more sustainable than the one they inherited.  We are the caretakers of that priceless legacy and must protect it for generations still to come.”

Jeff Seyler, president & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast said, “For far too long, we have heard the rhetoric that regulations are meaningless money-wasting initiatives created by nameless bureaucrats. The truth is that our regulatory system has helped give New Yorkers healthier air to breathe: we must work to strengthen these lifesaving regulations, not roll them back. Regulations that protect public health are not only beneficial from a medical standpoint, but they actually lead to long term healthcare cost savings to the state." 

Jessica Wisneski, legislative director for Citizen Action of New York said, “The extreme right has crept its way into New York, hidden under the cover of so-called compromise. These proposals would put serious roadblocks in the enforcement of health and worker protections that have kept all of us safe for decades.”

Chuck Bell, programs director for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports said, “New York consumers will be directly hurt if the state creates a backdoor process for businesses to throw out marketplace rules they don't like. Have legislators forgotten that we just suffered a terrible financial meltdown because of lax and ineffective regulation of the financial sector?   New Yorkers overwhelmingly support sensible safeguards to protect consumers, public health and the environment, and protect our economy against abuse, fraud and corporate crime.”

Fred Floss, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute said, “The Senate Majority Coalition Report on Regulatory Reform may be well meaning, but is missing the basic structure of good economic policy reform. It never asks the question of why a regulation was proposed or the problems it was meant to fix. One example from the Majority Coalition’s hearings was the hospital industries attack on the Safe Staffing for Quality Act as an un-needed regulation that will raise costs, but nowhere in the report does it talk about those who are hurt or the balancing of the public interest and industry profits. Simply if one only looks at the costs and not the benefits of regulations then the optimal solution is to have no regulation – but then New York State would be a terrible place to live.”

Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness said, “Under the guise of helping businesses, the Senate Majority Coalition has put forward a plan that seeks to eliminate thousands of regulations that were put in place for very good reasons. Unfortunately, the types of regulations they seek to eliminate make sure that workers are treated fairly by their employers and that businesses do not destroy our environment. This is a misguided attempt to curry favor with big business interests that will jeopardize the health and safety of our state's residents.”

Laura Haight, senior environmental associate at NYPIRG said, “As we saw in West Virginia, there are consequences when you weaken regulations designed to protect our environment and public health. New Yorkers count on our government to ensure that our food is safe to eat, our water safe to drink, and our air safe to breathe. The Senate Majority Coalition’s pandering to special interests is nothing short of reckless.”

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