the view from new york

Sep 06 2018 | 05:16 AM

Judith Enck, senior policy adviser at the Center for Climate integrity and former EPA regional administrator, on the federal landscape:The Trump administration has announced that they are either directly repealing or weakening or delaying over 50 key EPA regulations that were put in place during the Obama administration. Obviously not all of them will survive legal challenge, and the New York Attorney General’s office has been doing a really good job beating back some of these regulatory attacks in the courts — however, even if the lawsuits against the Trump policies prevail, we lose valuable time.

I would say the policies that are most negatively going to impact New York are the ones that deal with air quality. Why this matters for New York is that a lot of air pollution comes from the Midwest, from coal plants in Ohio and Indiana and Pennsylvania. A lot of that air pollution hits the New York City metropolitan area, and that is why New York City has many unhealthy air quality days. It’s a terrible strain on people’s hearts and lungs. Inevitably, we will see many more asthma attacks and cardiac problems because EPA is relaxing clean air controls.

These Trump policies are making it so much worse than it has to be. It’s coming at such a pivotal moment, when the science is so solid, and we really can’t afford to lose four years. And it’s not just losing strong environmental regulations. It’s also the Trump policy of promoting fossil fuel development on public lands and in tax policy. This is an administration that works very closely with the fossil fuel industry to promote more burning of gas and oil and coal. You see the president in West Virginia promoting coal: that all makes climate change worse.

Elizabeth Johnson Klein, deputy director of State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law, on an EPA proposal to limit the use of scientific evidence in the development of new rules and state efforts to fight against regulatory rollbacks:EPA’s proposed rule “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” would prevent the Agency from considering critical scientific research on the public health effects of pollution and harmful substances as the Agency considers how best to regulate things like air pollution, water contamination, and toxic chemicals. Disguised as a measure to improve “transparency,” EPA’s proposal would prohibit regulators from evaluating peer-reviewed scientific research that conceals the medical histories of the individuals who participated — a common practice protecting patients from privacy violations.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal led a coalition of 16 AGs in submitting comments to the EPA demanding that Acting-Administrator Andrew Wheeler reverses course and drops the proposed rule. The AGs have notified the EPA that its action would violate existing federal law, which requires the EPA to consider the best scientific evidence available in the development of new regulations. State AGs have been particularly active on environmental issues during the Trump Administration. They have taken more than 120 actions against harmful environmental rollbacks and have racked-up multiple major victories, including AG Underwood’s recent court victory halting the EPA’s attempt to stop implementation of life-saving accident prevention rules at chemical facilities.

Rebecca Seawright, New York State Assembly Member, on air quality in New York City:Air quality is central to any serious discussion of environmental policy for our city and state. Locally, on the Upper East Side, poor air quality is becoming synonymous with the waste transfer station. In my efforts to continue to oppose the East 91st Street waste transfer station, I sponsored and passed legislation to require a study on the high incidence of asthma in the borough of Manhattan and to prepare a remedial plan and legislation calling on the Department of Environmental Conservation to place air quality monitoring equipment near waste transfer stations across the State. With sufficient data, we will be able to keep up the fight.

I am also strongly supporting a key NYCLV environmental bill (A9819) in order to address the oversight in New York State Law to prohibit offshore drilling, protecting our coastal economy and ecosystem, and rebuffs the federal government’s plans for oil and gas exploration on the East Coast.

Recently, it was reported that there was a proposal for a Northeast Enhancement Supply Pipeline which would carry fracked natural gas (methane) from Pennsylvania across the Lower Bay of New York’s harbor. The underwater part of the pipeline would be laid 23 miles along the south coast of Staten Island, past Coney Island, and would end 4 miles south of the Rockaways. This would involve excavating a trench across the entirety of the route to bury the pipe. I signed onto a letter to the Governor urging him to deny permits for the Williams Pipeline that would be built in Lower New York Harbor.

I am supporting legislation (A10167) that would establish a moratorium on natural gas that has been produced by hydraulic fracturing process outside New York pending an environmental impact assessment.

I am proud to have once again received a 100% ranking from the New York League of Conservation. We must continue to fight at every level to enhance environmental quality in defense of the health and vitality of our community.