Press Release

Lawmakers hear clashing views on offshore wind turbines in Lake Erie

Lawmakers hear clashing views on offshore wind turbines in Lake Erie

By Sandra Tan
Published September 19, 2019|Updated September 19, 2019

There is no formal proposal to install wind turbines in Lake Erie waters off Western New York. But nearly 100 people showed up at an Erie County Legislature meeting on Thursday anticipating or fearing that day is coming soon.

Clean energy advocates pressed legislators to be open-minded about wind energy use. Though there are currently no freshwater wind farms in the United States, a six-turbine project is expected to be installed eight miles off the Lake Erie shores of Cleveland.

What has been informally introduced by the California-based Diamond Generating Corp., a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, is much larger. It would involve the installation of 50 wind turbines off the shores of the Town of Evans. Residents and public officials there have mounted an energetic campaign against any wind farm proposal off the shore of the town's 12-mile waterfront.

Wind energy advocates showed up by the dozens Thursday to decry a resolution by legislators Lynne Dixon and John Mills that preemptively opposes the construction of a Lake Erie wind farm.

Will Kempton, a published wind farm expert and professor with the University of Delaware, said a 200-megawatt wind farm could save seven lives a year.

"People actually die, you know, if you don’t reduce the amount of dirty energy that is produced," said Kempton, who was asked by the wind energy industry to appear at Thursday's hearing.

Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello referred to the "devastating environmental impact" such a project would have on the lake, leading to that county's bipartisan opposition to such a project.

"These industrial wind turbines are nothing but an investment scam," he said, referring to state and federal money these industries would be in line to receive. "The only green involved here, folks, is money."

Opponents referred to the stirring up of toxins on the lake floor and the harm and displacement of fish due to the noise and vibration of the wind turbines' installation and operation. They recounted Lake Erie's polluted past as a "dead lake." Now that the lake is rebounding, they said, nothing should set back that progress.

Proponents said that due to the shale bottom of the lake, wind turbines would not be hammered into the lake floor. Instead, companies would need to use new, innovative methods that would rely on giant "gravity" foundations that would sit on the floor's surface. Kempton also said that fish actually cluster around turbine structures and are popular spots for fishing charters.

Clarke Gocker, director for policy and strategy at PUSH Buffalo, also referred to recent state climate law that requires the state to transition from fossil fuels by 2050 and to meet zero emission targets by 2040.

The wind industry is interested in offshore wind farming because wind picks up speed as it moves across the water, creating more potential energy. Because wind energy is considered pollution and emissions-free, Brian Smith, associate director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said local governments should not shut the door on green energy and green jobs due to "misinformation and fear."

"Give wind a chance," he said.

Dixon and Mills reasserted their opposition to the project, adding their voices to that of Rep. Chris Collins and State Sen. Chris Jacobs. But Energy and Environment Chairman Timothy Meyers said the Legislature has no reason to weigh in on the matter yet since no formal wind farm proposal has been brought forward by anyone.

State Leaders Strike Agreement on Historic Climate Bill

PRESS STATEMENT

For immediate release: June 18, 2019

For more information, contact: Adrienne Esposito, 516-390-7150, aesposito@citizenscampaign.org

STATE LEADERS STRIKE AGREEMENT ON HISTORIC CLIMATE BILL

CCE commends the Governor and legislative leaders for bold legislation to make New York a national leader on climate; call for passage before the end of session

 

Albany, NY—Today the Governor and legislative leaders in the Assembly and Senate came to an agreement on climate legislation, known as the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (A.8429 – Englebright / S.6599 – Kaminsky). The legislation would require 70% of the state’s electricity to be generated by renewable sources by 2030, zero emissions from statewide electrical generation by 2040, an 85% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy, and funding for frontline communities disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. In response to the agreement, Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), said:

“Enactment of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act will make New York State a trailblazer in the fight against climate change.  This is exactly the type of leadership that this nation needs right now. From the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy downstate, to the historic flooding occurring along Lake Ontario upstate, every corner of New York State is already feeling the impacts of climate change. 

This legislation will put New York on the forefront in the fight to solve the climate crisis. The bill sets aggressive and achievable goals for realizing the state’s vast renewable energy potential and reaching net zero carbon emissions economy-wide.  Furthermore, the bill rightly provides resources to traditionally underserved communities that face disproportionate adverse impacts from climate change.  These are the critical steps that we need to take to address the climate crisis.

We commend Governor Cuomo, Senator Kaminsky, and Assemblyman Englebright for leading the way on this bold initiative.  We now urge the full legislature to act and pass this critical legislation before the end of session.”

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Governor Announces Pro-Environmental Budget

PRESS STATEMENT

For immediate release:
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

For more information contact:
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, 5163907150, 631-384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.orgBrian Smith, Associate Executive Director, 716-831-3206, bsmith@citizenscampaign.org

CCE commends Governor for environmental leadership

Albany, NY—Today Governor Cuomo gave his State of the State address and released his 2019-20 Executive Budget proposal, which included a number of important environmental initiatives. In response to the Governor’s proposals, Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said:


“This is what national environmental leadership looks like. From ending the scourge of the plastic bag, to expanding renewable energy and fighting climate change, to protecting clean water; the Governor’s budget is a huge win for our environment and public health. We look forward to now working with the Governor and the legislature to finalize the strongest environmental budget possible for New York State.


CCE has worked to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders—environmentalists, wastewater treatment operators, drinking water suppliers, environmental justice organizations, local agencies, contractors, and others—that have collectively been calling for an additional $2.5 billion in clean water infrastructure investments. We are thrilled that the Governor announced a new, five-year, $2.5 billion clean water investment to compliment his initial $2.5 investment that began in 2017. New York has significant needs when it comes to protecting our water, and the Governor has responded with a very significant investment to address those clean water needs. We look forward to learning more about the details of these proposed investments.”

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Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by jchristensen  1/15/19

Landmark DEC Report Calls for Pharmaceutical Industry to Fund Safe Drug Disposal New York State

Groups applaud critical DEC report--call for legislature to pass Drug Take Back Act before end of session; Safe drug disposal of unused and expired prescription drugs critical to address opioid crisis and protect waters from contamination

Albany, NY—A coalition of environmental, public health, and product stewardship organizations are praising the Governor and DEC for their recently released report (available at dontflushyourdrugs.net), which calls for a robust, statewide safe pharmaceutical disposal program that is funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Governor Cuomo called for the report when he vetoed a poorly crafted pharmaceutical disposal bill that passed the legislature last year. Bipartisan state legislation, known as the Drug Take Back Act (S.7354 –Hannon / A.9576a – Gunther), which would establish a statewide safe drug disposal program funded by the pharmaceutical industry, is pending* in the Senate and Assembly. The groups are calling on the legislature to pass agreed upon legislation before the end of session.


Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment said, “The Governor got it right—the pharmaceutical industry must take responsibility for its waste, not the taxpayers. It seems that wherever researchers look for drugs in our waters, they are now finding it. We expect the shellfish and finfish we eat to be a source of nutrition, not opioids. There is a grave urgency to provide all New Yorkers with safe and convenient options for drug disposal, which the Drug Take Back Act will provide. We are counting on the Senate and Assembly to work together and get the bill passed this session.”


Emerging science is demonstrating that pharmaceutical drugs that are flushed are polluting our waters and adversely impacting aquatic life. A 2017 study of the Niagara River found high levels of antidepressants in brains of numerous fish. A 2016 study by Riverkeeper found 16 different pharmaceutical compounds, including those to treat blood pressure, cholesterol, and epilepsy, in the Hudson River. Most recently a study conducted by the Puget Sound Institute discovered trace amounts of oxycodone in bay mussels—the first time that opioids have been found in shellfish.


Dan Shapley, Water Quality Program Director for Riverkeeper said, “Riverkeeper thanks the Governor and the DEC for joining advocates in calling for a safe and convenient drug take back program funded by the pharmaceutical industry. With our partners at Cornell University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we have conducted first-of-their-kind surveys of pharmaceuticals in the Hudson River Estuary. We have detected 50 different pharmaceutical compounds, with greater numbers found in samples at or near municipal wastewater treatment plant outfalls. Unfortunately, Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals from the water before discharge. We strongly encourage the Assembly and Senate to pass the bipartisan Drug Take Back Act before the end of session.”


Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "We are facing an environmental and health crisis due to the improper disposal of pharmaceutical drugs. Flushing and throwing away unused drugs can cause water contamination and negatively impacts public health. A safe pharmaceutical disposal program would improve our water quality and we urge our state legislators in Albany to implement such a program before this session ends." 
A lack of options to safely dispose of unused drugs is contributing to the national drug abuse epidemic that is now the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., ahead of car accidents. Deaths from drug overdoses and chronic drug abuse in New York State have increased 71 percent between 2010 and 2015.


Andrew Radin, Chair of the New York Product Stewardship Council and Recycling Director for Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency said, "Over 2,000 people in New York die annually from opioid overdose, most commonly from prescription pain relievers. Because 70 percent of people who start misusing drugs get them from the homes of family and friends, the Drug Take-Back Act will save lives by stopping prescription drug abuse at its source."


“The DEC report is an important step for New York that fully aligns with an increasing number of governments across the U.S. that require pharmaceutical companies to fund and manage safe drug take-back programs,” said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer of the Product Stewardship Institute. “Passing a bill will establish New York as a national leader in protecting water quality from improperly disposed medications and addressing the opioid addiction issue head on.”


The report is available at www.dontflushyourdrugs.net


*Senate passed the Drug Take Back Act in April, although the bill was recalled to the Senate, as the Senate and Assembly bills are not same as. The Assembly bill currently sits in the Codes committee.

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Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

Groups Provide Vision for Water Protection in NYS

During Earth Week, a broad, diverse group of experts announce unprecedented collaborative effort to protect NY waters; New report released: “Protecting Our Water from Source to Tap: A Vision for Water Protection in New York State”

Albany, NY—A network of environmental groups, environmental justice organizations, academia, wastewater treatment operators, drinking water suppliers, and government entities from across New York State released a report today entitled “Protecting Our Water from Source to Tap: A Vision for Water Protection in New York State.” The groups worked in an unprecedented collaboration to develop a menu of options for policies, funding, programs, and actions at the federal, state, and local level that would address New York’s critical clean water needs now and in the years ahead. The groups are sharing the report with policymakers and other key water stakeholders across the state.
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“New York State is making great progress with recent historic investments in water protection, however, we have a long way to go to ensure clean, safe water for all New Yorkers from its source all the way to the tap,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “We brought together a diverse group of water experts to discuss emerging threats to our water resources and explore options to protect clean water from the Great Lakes to Long Island’s sole source aquifer, now and in the years ahead. We now look forward to discussions with policymakers across the state that this report will facilitate.” 

Solutions are primarily focused on issues related to wastewater infrastructure, drinking water infrastructure, and source water protection. The report examines new innovative ideas, as well as ways to bolster existing programs that address policy and funding gaps in water protection. While the report recognizes that protecting New York’s water will require significant funding—New York’s wastewater and drinking needs are estimated at over $80 billion over the next 20 years—it also recognizes the need to ensure that when investments are made, clean water is kept affordable for all New Yorkers.

The report was led by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, with financial support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Park Foundation. Participating groups include Stony Brook University, New York Water Environment Association, Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection, Orange County Water Authority, Riverkeeper, New York Rural Water Association, New York Section of the American Water Works Association, Wayne County Water and Sewer Authority, City of Newburgh, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Port Washington Water District, People United for Sustainable House (PUSH) Buffalo, Partnership for the Public Good, City of Albany POTW, Environmental Advocates of New York, Adirondack Council, New York League of Conservation Voters, and Hudson River Watershed Alliance.

Geoffrey Baldwin, NYWEA President said, “The NY Water Environment Association is honored to collaborate with other environmental advocacy organizations on important water quality issues that affect public health and the environment. Complicated water issues need to be understood by elected officials and the general public, this report helps to communicate well our environmental challenges.” 

Judith Hansen, Chair of NYSAWWA said, “The New York Section of the American Water Works Association (NYSAWWA) was pleased to work with other stakeholders to offer ideas and solutions to the challenges facing New York’s waters. While the NYSAWWA and its members are dedicated to the stewardship of our drinking water resources, we recognize that resolving such problems as harmful algal blooms, emerging contaminants and aging infrastructure requires a true community response with participation from all sectors. The preservation of our quality of life and the protection of the public health depends on our continued collaboration.” 

Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy director for The Nature Conservancy in New York said, “The Nature Conservancy applauds Citizens Campaign for the Environment for convening organizations and experts to discuss threats to New York’s water resources, and for creating this important report capturing many policy opportunities we can work together to advance, building upon the progress already made with state funding and focus on this critical issue.”

Dan Shapley Water Quality Program Director for Riverkeeper said, “New York has taken historic strides to address some of the most important water issues of our day, including the need to upgrade of aging water infrastructure and to protect high quality drinking water at its source. We still have a long way to go to effectively manage watersheds, conserve water and ensure that the cost of needed investments are shared equitably. This document, and the group Citizens Campaign for the Environment convened to produce it, represent another step forward.”

Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "Citizens Campaign for the Environment has crafted a roadmap for protecting New York's water resources that we are proud to support. Clean water is one of the defining environmental issues of our time and we look forward to working with advocates, elected officials, and other stakeholders to advance this vision." 

“Clean and abundant supplies of water are the life blood of New York’s prosperity. But if we do not respect and protect this essential resource, the repercussions will be irreversible and potentially catastrophic to our economy and quality of life,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “We call upon the Legislature and policy makers to use this report as framework for action to sustain New York’s clean water legacy.”

Senate Budget Calls on Pharmaceutical Industry to Fund Safe Drug Disposal in NY

Diverse coalition calls on Assembly and Governor to follow suit in final budget; Safe drug disposal of unused and expired drugs critical to address opioid crisis and protect waters from contamination

Albany, NY—A broad group of public health, sportsmen, product stewardship, and environmental organizations are calling on the Governor and Assembly to support the Drug Take Back Act in the final state budget. The Act was included in the New York State Senate’s budget proposal. The legislation would establish a robust, statewide program to provide safe pharmaceutical disposal for all New Yorkers. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, rather than the taxpayers, would foot the entire bill for implementing the program. Chain pharmacies would be required to provide take-back, while other authorized collectors (e.g. independent pharmacies, local law enforcement) would have the option of participating.


Unused drugs stockpiled in household medicine cabinets or disposed in the trash often end up in the hands of children, teenagers, and abusers, which contributes to accidental poisonings and the opioid crisis. The lack of disposal options is also perpetuating the antiquated practice of flushing unused or expired drugs, which is polluting our treasured waters across the state with trace amounts of pharmaceutical drugs. The DEA, EPA, and numerous other agencies agree that the safest method of pharmaceutical disposal is through take-back programs (i.e., drug collection drop-boxes hosted by law enforcement and retail pharmacies, mail-back programs, or municipal take-back events).

“New York State and local governments are already spending millions of dollars annually on safe disposal programs, yet far too many New Yorkers still do not have convenient access to safe disposal options,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “In a year where the state faces a shortfall of over $4 billion, it is unfathomable that the multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry pays nothing to deal with its own waste and taxpayers continue to foot the bill. We are counting on the Governor and Assembly to join the Senate in including this critical legislation in the final budget.”

Wastewater treatment systems and septic systems are not designed to remove these contaminants, resulting in pharmaceutical pollution in waters across the state. Recent studies have shown high levels of antidepressants in fish in the Niagara River and the feminization of male fish (produced eggs) in Jamaica Bay that were exposed to hormones (birth control). Most recently, the Hudson Riverkeeper conducted studies on pharmaceutical pollution in the Hudson River.

Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, said: “When Riverkeeper has partnered with scientists to look for pharmaceuticals in the Hudson River, we've found dozens - including some at concentrations that could affect aquatic life. The Drug Take-Back Act would help remove one important source of water contamination, by establishing a program funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers, not consumers or taxpayers. We are calling on the Governor and the New York State Legislature to pass the Drug Take-Back Act and ensure that pharmacies provide drop boxes to make it easy and convenient for people to properly dispose of unused medications.”

“Pharmaceutical companies are best positioned to minimize the adverse impacts of their products,” said Scott Cassel, CEO and Founder of the Product Stewardship Institute. “Through the Drug Take-Back Act, drug companies will fund the safe drug disposal for all New York residents, giving them incentive to reduce the amount of leftover medication.”

"Pharmaceuticals are among many emerging contaminants being found in the Great Lakes and local waterways, posing new and unknown risks to wildlife, ecosystems, and our drinking water. As part of our action agenda for our shared waters, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will work to minimize the impacts of emerging contaminants and is committed to partnering with government and academic institutions on pharmaceutical take-back programs to keep these contaminants out of our water," said Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka.

In the U.S., eighteen counties and two states (Massachusetts and Vermont) have passed similar manufacturer-funded pharmaceutical disposal laws. This includes Rockland County, which recently became the first local government in New York State to pass this type of law (similar laws have been introduced in Erie and Westchester Counties). Experience has demonstrated that cost to manufacturers is negligible—it is estimated to cost approximately one cent per $10 of medications sold.

A lack of options to safely dispose of unused drugs is contributing to the national drug abuse epidemic that is now the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., ahead of car accidents. Deaths from drug overdoses and chronic drug abuse in New York State have increased 71 percent between 2010 and 2015.


"Over 2,000 people in New York die annually from opioid overdose, most commonly from prescription pain relievers. Because 70 percent of people who start misusing drugs get them from the homes of family and friends, the Drug Take-Back Act will save lives by stopping prescription drug abuse at its source," said Andrew Radin, Chair of the New York Product Stewardship Council and Recycling Director for Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency.


While the groups strongly support the Drug Take Back Act, they are also advocating that legislators make important improvements to the proposal before it is finalized in the budget. The groups are calling for the program to require the use of drop-boxes, which have been shown to be the most effective method of collection. The groups are also advocating that a convenience standard is established to ensure equal access for all New Yorkers, and that improvements are made to program reporting and education and outreach.
 

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