(Albany) The statewide Alliance for a Toxic-Free Future (ATFF) representing over 70 environmental, health, labor and environmental justice groups, today praised Governor Spitzer’s proposed 2007-08 budget. Alliance member Heather Loukmas of the Learning Disabilities Association of New York described the Governor’s proposed budget as “important to restoring New York to the forefront of protecting our environment.”
The Alliance applauded the Governor’s proposal to use $2 million of the Environmental Protection Fund monies to create a Pollution Prevention Institute to work with businesses to reduce the use and production of toxic materials. “It is much more cost effective to stop pollution before it occurs than to try to clean it up and cure toxic-exposure illnesses once the pollution is created. We need to help New York businesses remain competitive with neighboring states and Europe that have already taken steps to find safer alternatives to toxic chemicals,” stated Steve Breyman of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, an Alliance member.
The Pollution Prevention Institute would reduce the use of toxic and radioactive substances by promoting sustainable environmental management practices, comprehensive pollution prevention and green chemistry. The Institute would provide technical assistance, research and development, demonstration, technology transfer, training, education, and information dissemination.
The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s (NPPR) national surveys of state, regional and local pollution prevention programs have documented major costs savings as well as avoided pollution from such programs. From 1998 – 2000, 13 pollution prevention (P2) programs with an average annual budget of $1.9 million reported total cost savings equal to $404 million, representing savings of more than 5 times the investment made to run the programs. Massachusetts established a pollution prevention policy and Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI) that resulted in a forty two percent (42%) reduction in the use of hazardous substances and a sixty five percent (65%) reduction in the generation of hazardous waste (per unit of production) from 1990 to 2004, with an estimated fourteen million dollar overall cost savings for participating businesses over a seven year period. The Alliance hopes New York follows the lead of the Massachusetts TURI, which was set up more than a decade ago.
Alliance member Loukmas lamented that the executive budget proposal did not include support for an Alliance priority: Centers for Children’s Environmental Health Excellence. “We call upon the Governor to affirm his commitment to protecting children’s health by providing funding for a statewide network of children’s environmental health centers of excellence,” she said. “The growth of chronic diseases and disabilities among children such as asthma, lead poisoning, obesity, cancer, birth defects, injury, mental retardation, autism, ADHD, learning and developmental disabilities and psychiatric disorders has been linked to toxins in our environment. Establishment of these regionalized centers represents a significant step toward a solution of educating the public on and identifying, treating and preventing these chronic diseases and disabilities due to exposure to environmental toxins,” said Loukmas.
The Alliance praised Spitzer’s proposal to use the unclaimed deposits from the bottle bill to fund an expansion of the Environmental Protection Fund. “Within a year, the unclaimed deposits from the bottle bill will add hundreds of millions annually to the effort to protect the environment and public health. It is long overdue for these unclaimed nickels from consumers to go into the state coffers for the public good rather than fattening the profits of Pepsi and Coke,” said Laura Haight of NYPIRG, an Alliance member.
Spitzer is proposing to add more than 100 staff to DEC. Governor Pataki had cut 800 positions over twelve years. “Restoring these cuts demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to creating the One New York he spoke of in his inaugural address; where neighborhoods like Harlem and the Hamptons are equally protected from toxins and pollution that destroy our health,” noted Cecil Corbin-Mark of West Harlem Environmental Action, an Alliance member.
Steve Breyman, CEC, (518) 462-5527, x14
Cecil Corbin-Mark, WE ACT, (917) 501-4980