|Release: Cuomo holds Earth Day event to publicize new ban on some plastic bags in NYS. Press release, transcript, Youtube video included.|
For Immediate Release: 4/22/2019
GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO
ON EARTH DAY, GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNS LEGISLATION BANNING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS IN NEW YORK
New Law Will Reduce Litter, Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Protect the Environment for Future Generations
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation on Earth Day that bans the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York starting in March 2020, a significant step to reduce pollution and protect fish and wildlife. "Single-use" plastic bags do not degrade and often wind up as litter on lands and in waters, harming birds or wildlife that ingest the plastic. It is estimated that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually, and nationwide studies show that approximately 50 percent of single-use plastic bags end up as litter. In addition to preventing plastic bag litter in our environment, this ban will also help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal, from petroleum used to produce the bags to emissions from the transportation of bags to landfills.
"You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage," Governor Cuomo said. "Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. We need to stop using plastic bags, and today we're putting an end to this blight on our environment."
"From bold action to address climate change, to historic investments in clean energy, New York has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve and strengthen our environment, and the plastic bag ban is the next step forward," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Once again New York is demonstrating leadership with a common sense reform to create lasting change and ensure a greener future for our planet."
DEC will work with stakeholders and community leaders to ensure the roll-out of this initiative does not disproportionately impact low and moderate income and environmental justice communities through the distribution of reusable bags.
In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force, chaired by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. The task force met several times to develop a uniform, comprehensive and equitable solution to the plastic bag problem. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided several options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution to the problem.
The legislation signed today bans the provision of single-use, plastic carryout bags at any point of sale, and provides DEC exclusive jurisdiction over all matters related to plastic bags. Under the new law, garment bags, trash bags and any bags used to wrap or contain certain foods, such as fruits and sliced meats are exempt from the ban. Counties or cities will also be permitted to charge a five cent fee for single-use paper bags. Three cents from the fee will go to the Environmental Protection Fund, while the other two cents will go to the locality to pay for distribution of reusable bags.
New York joins California and Hawaii as the only states where single-use plastic bags are banned.
State Parks Acting Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "Plastic bag pollution creates a blight on New York's landscape, including our state parks and historic sites. I applaud Governor Cuomo's bold action to ban single-use plastic bags, which will greatly enhance our work to protect and promote the State's natural resources."
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York continues to be a national leader on environmental issues, and the plastic bag ban is the latest in a series of important actions Governor Cuomo has initiated to preserve our air, land, and waters, and our future. DEC is proud to be at the forefront of these efforts and will continue to work closely with the Governor, Legislature and the public to develop solutions that benefit our environment and economy."
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "The Senate Majority was outspoken in our support for a ban on single-use plastic bags, and it is fitting that we enact this historic accomplishment on Earth Day. This is one of many important steps New York State is taking to preserve our natural resources and protect our environment. The Senate Majority will continue to champion efforts that make New York a global leader in the fight against climate change."
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The Assembly Majority is proud to have helped make New York a national leader in tackling plastic pollution. With this legislation, we have taken a stand to protect our waterways and environment so that our most precious natural resources will be preserved for generations to come."
Senator Todd Kamsinky, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee said, "Today, New York takes bold action to protect our environment by banning plastic bags in New York State. Together, we are making a decision to stop bags from clogging up our precious waterways, harming wildlife and littering our communities. With the signing of this legislation, we are making a huge stride in environmental stewardship but there is much more work yet to be accomplished to save our planet - and I know we are up to the challenge.
Senator José Serrano, Chair of Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, said, "More than just an eyesore, plastic bags are a major source of pollution and cause tremendous environmental damage. The 23 billion plastic bags used by New Yorkers each year get stuck in our trees, blow along our beaches and parks, and endanger our marine and wildlife. For the last decade, I have been working with my colleagues to reduce or eliminate plastic bag use in New York and I am thrilled to see the enactment of this statewide ban, making New York one of the leading states to tackle this important issue. Many thanks to Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation for their commitment to New York's environmental future."
Assembly Member Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee said, "Plastic bags impose a very high cost on the environment. The bags pollute and litter our landscapes, waterways, and oceans. According to the World Economic Forum, 'without significant action, there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean, by weight, by 2050.' Plastic bags are mistaken for food by whales and turtles, and even when plastic breaks down into smaller pieces it is ingested by marine life. These tiny bits of plastic act like sponges, attracting pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Toxic microplastics have even been found in the seafood we eat. Banning plastic bags is an important step in the reducing this pollution. I wish to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this into law."
Assembly Member Danny O'Donnell, Chair of the Arts and Tourism Committee said, "Single-use plastics are incredibly harmful to our environment, and pollute our landscapes and oceans. I'm glad New York State is following California's lead on banning plastic bags, and I look forward to passage of legislation that makes us a leader by further discouraging use of other single-use plastics. While the change seems radical to some, all it takes is a first step in realizing our impact on our environment, and I'm glad my legislative colleagues and the Governor have taken that first step."
For Immediate Release: 4/22/2019
GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO
VIDEO, AUDIO, PHOTOS & RUSH TRANSCRIPT: ON EARTH DAY, GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNS LEGISLATION ON LONG ISLAND BANNING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS IN NEW YORK
New Law Will Reduce Litter, Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Protect the Environment for Future Generations
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation on Long Island that bans the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York starting in March 2020, a significant step to reduce pollution and protect fish and wildlife. "Single-use" plastic bags do not degrade and often wind up as litter on lands and in waters, harming birds or wildlife that ingest the plastic. It is estimated that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually, and nationwide studies show that approximately 50 percent of single-use plastic bags end up as litter. In addition to preventing plastic bag litter in our environment, this ban will also help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal, from petroleum used to produce the bags to emissions from the transportation of bags to landfills. More information is available here.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of remarks is available below:
Thank you very much. Happy Earth Day, as Basil Seggos said. I have little fish on my tie in honor of Earth Day. You can't see them from where you are, but take my word for it. I want to thank LIU very much and I want to thank Dr. Cline and the trustees for their hospitality in allowing us to be here today. Let's give LIU a round of applause. Basil Seggos has done an extraordinary job as Commissioner. He's right—he alluded to the philosophy of this administration, which is not what you say, it's what you do, right? This is a time in our, literally planet's history, where we need action. It's not about rhetoric anymore, it's about getting things done. It's about making a change and making a change fast. And government is not especially good at that, you know? Were good at talking about it. We're good at debating it. But we're not good at actually getting things done. And Basil Seggos has brought more change to this state's environment than any environmental commissioner in the history of the state of New York. Let's give him another round of applause.
You're going to hear from Eric Goldstein who is the senior director at NRDC, who is the font of all environmental wisdom and has been a great asset to the state of New York and to me personally, Eric Goldstein. You're going to hear from Suffolk's great County Executive, who himself has been a leader in the environment, what he's doing on water quality, what he's doing in putting in water treatment all across the county. He really has led the way on this issue of plastic bags. Suffolk County led the way, Steve Bellone, let's give him a round of applause.
And I have my colleagues in the legislature who make it all possible. Nothing happens unless we pass a law and to pass a law you need the Senate to approve and you need the Assembly to approve. So everything happens with the legislative body and many of them are here today and they're proud of it. I'm going to go through their names—let's hold the applause—otherwise we'll be here all day.
Senator Jim Gaughran, it's his district, good to be with you. Senator John Brooks, Senator Anna Kaplan, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, who as you know, has led so many environmental efforts. Assemblywoman Solages, Assemblywoman Taylor Raynor, Assemblyperson Judy Griffin, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, Assemblymen Steve Otis and Assemblyman Clyde Vanel. Let's give them a round of applause.
So this year, the legislature's here because they just finished the state budget. We call it a budget, but it's actually more than a budget. It's really the whole action plan for the state for that year. Many of the main laws that we're going to pass are all done in the budget. And when we started this budget process we said that we would have the best budget the state has ever done for Long Island. And we said that last year and that's what we delivered. It's a budget that brings about $18 billion to Long Island. But also brings major changes to Long Island.
Makes the property tax cap permanent at 2%. For the young people in the room, you do not know what that means yet. One day you will and will be grateful for the 2% property tax cap. More funding for education than ever before in the history of the state of New York. We have record breaking criminal justice reform that for the first time brings real justice to the criminal justice system and ends cash bail. Cash bail basically said we have a justice system that is dependent on wealth, and if you can pay the bail you can leave. If you are not wealthy you can stay in jail. That was not justice. Justice was never based on wealth and now that has been reformed in our criminal justice reform, so congratulations to our legislature.
We led the way on the environment again, which is more and more of a pressing problem. The issue we dealt with today is this, looks harmless enough right, this. How dangerous can that be? That is very, very, very dangerous. The average American family - 1,500 plastic bags per year. The average length of use of the bag is 12 minutes. This bag will outlive all of us in this room. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags per year. 12 million barrels of oils are used to make the plastic bags. New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags a year. Now, you see them every day because they never go away. You see them hanging in trees in some communities like some bizarre Christmas ornaments. You see them blowing down the streets. You see them in landfills. You see them in our waterways. All over, I have been fishing 40 miles out to sea and found plastic bags. They are everywhere.
There is no doubt that they are doing tremendous damage. By 2050, there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. Just think about that. How frightening is that? It makes no sense. So just stop, right? This is not a major inconvenience. We can provide bags that are reusable. Just stop. But change is hard. You know change. We all say, we like change. We want change. Change is good. But we really do not want change. Change is traumatic. We like control. You know the husband and wife sitting at the breakfast table in the morning. The wife looks at the husband and says, things have to change. Change is traumatic. We like control. You know the husband and the wife sitting at the breakfast table in the morning. The wife looks at the husband and says, you know, things have to change, and he looks back and says, oh, I know, things have to change. Yeah, they're each talking about the other one. You know, we want to continue doing what we're doing.
So the banning of plastic bags has been something that we have fought for years, literally. But think about it. It is a minor inconvenience. We can provide bags that are reusable. When you go to the store you use the reusable bag, and you bring it home. That's it. Well, then I have to remember to bring the reusable bag. Yes, like you have to remember to go to the store, and you have to remember to bring your keys, and you have to remember to find a way to get there, and you have to bring your wallet or your purse to pay, and don't forget the phone because you can't go anywhere without the phone. So yes, you have to remember to bring the reusable bag.
But in the scope of life, it is such a trivial, trivial thing to do, especially when it's doing such damage, and this bag issue is not in isolation. You would have to be blind not to see what's going on with our environment. You would have to be blind not to see the effect of climate change. You would have to be blind not to see the extreme weather everywhere, literally on the television internationally. You would have to literally live in a state of denial, to say, well, none of this is happening. This is just circumstantial and cyclical. Baloney. We are literally destroying the planet, and we know it. We see the changes. But change is hard, especially change when people are in patterns and changing the way people live their lives, but that's what we have to do. And we don't even have a choice.
That's why New York State is not just like any other state, he says with New York arrogance. New York by history, by our legacy, we always led on the tough problems first. You look at all the major reforms, all the major issues, many of them started right here in New York. New York started the social rights movement, the economic rights movement, the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, the women's rights movement, that all started here. Workers' rights started here, child labor law started here, worker protection law started here, the environmental movement started here on the Hudson River at Storm King. That's where it started, and New York has always been a state of firsts. Our theory has been, expose the problem and then lead the way on the solution. Even the Department of Environmental Conservation was started here on Earth Day in 1970, before the federal government ever set up an environmental agency, so happy birthday to DEC, Commissioner Seggos.
1885, the state set up the first state park at Niagara Falls. 1900, Teddy Roosevelt started conservation with the Palisades cliffs and then conserved millions and millions of acres, making the state a model of state parks and conservation. 1984, a governor named Mario Cuomo started bringing attention to an issue called acid rain that nobody wanted to focus on which was poisoning our lakes and our rivers and killing our fish. Our job now as New Yorkers is to continue because the commissioner is exactly right. The federal government either wants to deny, wants to dispute or out of convenience wants to ignore. They want to say, this is old mythology, climate change. There's no proof. Extreme weather just is coincidental. And they want to burn more fossil fuels, more oil exploration. They proposed off shore drilling off the shore of Long Island. They want to favor those industries that created this problem in the first place.
We're going the exact opposite way. We're the state that said when the federal government pulled out of the Paris Accord, we're going to set up a U.S. Climate Change Coalition to enforce those same regulations. We're the state that banned fracking, that funds the Environmental Protection Fund at record amounts. We have the most aggressive carbon-free electric plan by 2040 in the nation. $1.5 billion in renewable projects. And think globally, act locally. Here on Long Island we're about to announce the largest off-shore wind project in the United States of America off Long Island. The most aggressive building of artificial reefs, we have a shellfish restoration program that we're doing. We're doing more rehabilitation of state parks than ever before. We're rebuilding the Bay Park Waste Water Treatment Facility that was poisoning water on the South Shore. We just announced last week a bill that will protect menhaden, which is a baitfish, which drives many other species. It's a bill Assemblyman Englebright fought for a long time and we got it done. Congratulations, Assemblyman Englebright.
It is New York's destiny to lead. And there probably is no more important issue to lead on than on the issue of the environment. Teddy Roosevelt, who was a great environmentalist before they even called it an environmentalist, said, "I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land. But I do not recognize the right to waste them or to rob them by wasteful use from generations that come after us." The Native Americans have a beautiful proverb that says the same thing even more simply and more humanistically, "We did not inherit the earth from our parents. We are borrowing from our children." Keep that in mind. Keep that in mind and it changes your whole perspective on how you live your life. We are borrowing it from our children. And our responsibility as parents, as citizens, is to leave this place better, safer, cleaner than we found it. And we have a long way to go before we can say we've left them a state, a country, a planet that is safer and cleaner than the one we inherited. But New York will lead the way. Thank you and God bless you.