EPL/Environmental Advocates has released the 2013 Environmental Scorecard, and data demonstrates how the State Senate Majority Coalition took dysfunction to new heights in 2013, with political gamesmanship and infighting sinking environmental issues.
Despite the Senate logjam, several area Assemblymembers stand out for their commitment to New York’s environment.
The Assembly passed all four of the environmental community’s Super Bills, and also prevented legislation that would have long-lasting negative environmental impacts from reaching a vote.
Assemblymembers Harry Bronson (D-Rochester), David Gantt (D-Rochester), Joseph Morelle (D-Rochester), Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) all earned scores of 100. On the downside, Assemblymember Bill Nojay (R-Lakeville) accrued a lousy 25 points. Mr. Nojay’s anti-environmental record included votes against the expansion of solar energy and green jobs, and the full public reporting of how much taxpayer funds are spent through the state’s Brownfields cleanup program.
Mark Johns (R-Fairport) was one of his conference’s high scorers, earning a respectable 80 points, while Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore) was again one of his conference’s low scorers, earning a failing grade of 61 points. Minority Leader Brian Kolb earned 41 points, ranking him well below the 53 average of his Republican Conference.
The Senate continued to be the place where good legislation goes to die, with an environmental Super Bill, the Child Safe Products Act, not getting a vote despite having 37 cosponsors (only 32 votes are needed for passage). Additionally, the Senate Majority Coalition did not allow a vote on legislation that would close a gaping loophole in how fracking companies can dispose of their hazardous waste within our boarders – the measure had 34 cosponsors. The Senate Majority Coalition also failed to finalize legislation that would expand solar energy development and green jobs in New York.
Senators Mark Grisanti (D-Buffalo) and George Maziarz (R-Lockport), chairmen of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation and Energy Committees, respectively, earned just 42 out of 100 points – scores well below the Senate average of 59 points, and even below the Republican Conference average of 45. In addition to voting against New York’s environment, Senator Grisanti stalled several environmental priority bills in committee while Senator Maziarz let his colleagues leave Albany without finalizing an agreement to expand solar power and green jobs.
Senator Ted O’Brien (D-Rochester) was the high scorer among his Western New York colleagues, but only earned 59 points – a disappointing turn given the Senator’s 2012 victory over last year’s Oil Slick Award winner, former Assemblyman Sean Hanna. Senator Michael Nozzolio earned the regional Senate low score of just 39 points.
Dave Gahl, executive director of EPL/Environmental Advocates said, “Assemblymembers Bronson, Gantt, Morelle and Peoples-Stokes deserve credit for their leadership and for standing with New York’s environment at every turn. Assemblyman Johns has also developed an impressive record of independence during his service. Unfortunately, whether we’re talking about climate change, renewable energy, or even recycling, too many Western New York lawmakers are out of touch with the people they represent and have turned their back on the region’s environment.”
The EPL/Environmental Advocates 2013 Environmental Scorecard is the first and only record of New York State lawmakers’ votes on legislation that will impact the environment. The scorecard has been produced and distributed statewide for more than 40 years. For the complete Scorecard, visit www.eplscorecard.org.