The New York State Assembly failed to pass the NY HEAT Act, which climate activists have been pushing to help wean the state from natural gas to renewable energy sources, before the end of the legislative session June 7, but several other environmental initiatives made it through the legislature and now await Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature.

Key among those initiatives is the Horseshoe Crab Protections Act, which was passed by both the state Assembly and Senate Friday evening.

The legislation bans the taking of horseshoe crabs for commercial and biomedical purposes, but does allow takings for scientific and educational purposes, which will be regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation if signed by Governor Hochul.

“This is a terrific victory for a threatened species,” said David Ansel, vice president of water protection for Save the Sound. “Horseshoe crabs have been virtually unchanged for 450 million years and survived five mass extinctions, but humans have brought them to the brink in just a few hundred years. It’s past time to stop their overfishing. Connecticut had already enacted legislation to protect horseshoe crabs, but its effectiveness was limited without bi-state protections. Now that New York has followed suit, all of Long Island Sound can be a safe habitat for this vulnerable species.”

The Assembly also passed the Climate Change Superfund Act, which had already passed the Senate, near the close of the session Friday.

The bill would make companies that emit significant greenhouse gases pay for infrastructure improvements needed to adapt to climate change.

The Senate also passed two bills that would prohibit the use of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) in household items ranging from cleaning products to fabric treatments, dental floss, household textiles, rugs, paints, and ski wax. The Assembly did not vote on either PFAS bill.

The Senate passed the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act on Friday, but the Assembly did not vote on the bill, which would have cut plastic packaging waste by 30 percent over the next 12 years and made companies responsible for paying for the disposal of the packaging materials they produce.

The NY HEAT Act, already passed by the State Senate earlier this year, would have further regulated the natural gas industry and supported the decarbonization of buildings, while capping energy bills at six percent of household income for low and moderate income New York ratepayers. It would not ban the use of gas or require existing gas customers to transition to clean fuels. East End Assemblyman Fred Thiele was one of its sponsors in the Assembly. In addition to not passing the bill, the Assembly also blocked its inclusion in the state’s 2025 budget.

“If NY HEAT had passed, it would have helped reduce greenhouse emissions from the buildings sector, the state’s largest source of emissions,” said Alex Rodriguez, environmental justice specialist for Save the Sound. “Also, it would have ended the obligation to serve fracked gas to new customers and ended ratepayer subsidies for gas pipelines. There is no climate equity without climate justice, and we look forward to working with allies on legislation that ensures an equitable transition to clean energy and reduced utility costs for New Yorkers statewide.”


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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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