EPL/Environmental Advocates Releases Voters' Guide on Feeble Legislative Session
Former DEC Leader, Assemblyman Sean Hanna, Receives Oil Slick Award
ALBANY, NY (10/03/2012)(readMedia)-- Documenting what was a largely unremarkable legislative session, EPL/Environmental Advocates has released its 2012 Voters' Guide demonstrating that this year was one of the least productive – and potentially most damaging – for our state's environmental agenda in more than a decade.
The 2012 New York State Legislative Session was the first time since 2006 that none of the environmental community's priority Super Bills made it to the Governor's desk. Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo made little effort to prioritize any pro-environment legislation, waiting until late in the session to introduce his solar jobs proposal.
"We saw scores fall across the board for each of the legislative conferences based on a variety of factors, including the lack of action on bills most critical to our environmental health, as well as an increase in the passage of bills that actually do harm to New York's environment," explained Executive Director Rob Moore. "While the Assembly failed to act on the Governor's solar energy bill, which was not introduced until the end of session, their legislative agenda did recognize that environmental protections and economic development are not mutually exclusive. Sadly, others members of the legislature not only voted against our environment, but sought to dismantle prior conservation victories."
For the complete 2012 Voters' Guide, visit www.eplvotersguide.org
Special Recognitions & the Oil Slick Award
While no one was honored as Legislator of the Year, EPL/Environmental Advocates recognized two members of the Assembly, Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and George Latimer (D-Mamaroneck), as this year's greenest legislators.
Another member of the Assembly, Sean Hanna (R-Henrietta), a former regional director for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), received the Oil Slick Award after just two years in office due to an alarmingly anti-environmental voting record, as well as public remarks denying the science of climate change and opposing any effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hanna also sponsored legislation to repeal the state's pesticides laws, which provide the public with many safeguards from these dangerous chemicals.
"New York's environment has had no greater champion over the years than Assemblyman Sweeney. He is a diligent and forward-looking public official who continually advocates sound environmental policy," said Moore. "The bright spot of this legislative session was Assemblyman Latimer's fight to repair damage done in year's past to the Environmental Protection Fund. These funds will ensure that money is available moving forward to fund green energy development and create new jobs in the green sector. It is now up to Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation into law."
Regarding the Oil Slick awardee, Moore added, "Since his election to office, Assemblyman Hanna has gone out of his way to turn back the clock in New York State. Hanna's former boss, Governor Pataki, takes great pride in his environmental legacy and often cites Teddy Roosevelt as his hero. Hanna's anti-environmental agenda has President Roosevelt rolling over in his grave."
The State Senate
The Senate did not take up any of the environmental community's priority Super Bills, meaning that none made it to Governor Cuomo's desk to be signed into law. Because of the Senate's inaction on the Super Bills, their 2012 scores plummeted. This year's "green gap" between the average scores of the Senate Republicans and Democrats is a sizeable 28 points; in 2008 just 10 points separated the conferences. On average, Republican senators scored worse than their Democratic colleagues (33 to 61). Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) received a score of 31 this year, while Minority Leader John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) earned just 49.
In the Assembly, Republican members scored a 49 on average, while their Democratic Party colleagues averaged 89. Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Majority Leader Ron Canestrari (D-Cohoes) both received a score of 88 this year, while Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) received a 36.
How Grades are Determined
EPL/Environmental Advocates calculates lawmakers' scores using the ratings of its sister organization, Environmental Advocates of New York. Legislators earn between one and three points respectively for votes in support of bills that received one, two, or three "trees." Tree-rated bills are those deemed beneficial to the environment. Likewise, legislators earn between one and three points for voting against bills that were give a rating of one, two or three "smokestacks." Smokestack-rated bills are those deemed detrimental to the environment. Votes on priority Super Bills are given extra weight in the guide; Super Bills are determined by a coalition of more than a dozen environmental organizations around the state who determine which bills would have the most significant impact. Bills that are not included in the grading system have been determined to have too little of an impact to consider.
The Voters' Guide is the first and only record of New York State lawmakers' votes on legislation that will impact the environment. The Guide has been produced and distributed statewide for more than 40 years.
EPL/Environmental Advocates was founded in 1969 as one of the first organizations in the nation to advocate for the future of a state's environment and the health of its citizens. Through lobbying, advocacy, coalition building, citizen education and policy development, EPL/Environmental Advocates has been New York's environmental conscience-ensuring that environmental laws are enforced; that new measures are enacted when necessary; and that the public is informed of, and participates in, important environmental policy debates. Learn more at www.eplvotersguide.org