On December 3, 2021, Steve Englebright, New York State Assemblyman, spoke at LIMBA’s (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting on the topic “Environmental Consideration.” This meeting was held at TopGolf in Holtsville.
The assemblyman covered a number of topics during his presentation and answered questions from the audience. He explained that he was a co-sponsor of a bill to have state residents vote on a proposal to incorporate the Environmental Rights Act into the New York State Constitution. The bill was signed into law and voted on in the general election in November 2021. The proposal passed by a 70%-30% margin; the Act will provide New York residents “the rights to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment.” “I’m very pleased that it passed,” the assemblyman said, adding that sister states such as Pennsylvania and Montana already have such amendments on the books. “It’s very significant.”
He also discussed the passage of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) two years ago, which called for leading environmental experts and agency heads to draft a plan for the state on environmental conservation. A draft of the plan is expected to be released soon. “As a state, we are becoming a part of the national and global marketplace to reduce greenhouse gases,” he said.
Mr. Englebright talked about what he saw were disturbing trends in the environment, such as melting ice caps and heavier-than-expected rainfall on the East Coast, while the West Coast has had none. He said he foresees eroding seashores, adding, “it’s not a far possibility” and the hundred-year storms “are now coming every two to three years.” In Colorado, for the first time, the state has not had snow in early December. “We definitely need to confront this,” he said.
He noted that September 2, 2021 was a significant day because he remembered leaving Albany and seeing the Saw Mill River Parkway flooded out. When he drove through the Bronx, “there were cars upside down,” he said.
Climate change just doesn’t affect the environment, Mr. Englebright said, it also affects business productivity, the economy and the way we live. He said pollutants in the air pose a threat to our pulmonary and cardiovascular systems and the quality of our drinking water can also affect our health. To reverse the trend, the state must look to decarbonization, which can only be achieved by converting to renewable energy.
The discussion turned to the use of alternative energy sources and getting away from fossil fuels. This included the proposal to electrify the Port Jefferson LIRR line. “Why do we still have diesel engines in Suffolk County?” Mr. Englebright asked. He also noted that the MTA put in an order for 50 new diesel engines with a 50-year life span in 2019 which “contradicted the purposes and goals of the climate bill,” meaning the CLCPA. The MTA since rescinded the order.
Electrification of the trains will help the local economy become more prosperous, the assemblyman said. In addition, the use of alternative energy such as solar can help increase the values of homes and businesses.
At the end of his presentation, he urged local business groups to meet with him and learn how they can help push for greener practices in the building and construction of homes and businesses. “The environment is either going to be our salvation,” he said, “or it’s going to be a problem.”
Mr. Englebright has served in the Assembly since 1992. He authored New York State’s first solar and wind net-metering laws and successfully pushed for the expansion of solar net-metering to include all utility customer classes. In February 2015, he was appointed Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation. His priorities include advancing policy and budgetary initiatives to improve the quality of our air and waters, open space preservation, recycling and sustainability and ramping up our effort on the state level to reduce greenhouse gases and combat the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean acidification and future extreme weather events.
For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.
* Photo is attached.
Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net