New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus to Support Landmark Legislative Action to Curtail Exposure to Toxics

$1 Billion Legislative Package to Prevent Lead Poisoning and Legislation to Revise SEQRA Process to Reduce Cumulative Impacts

ALBANY, NY (February 15, 2022) – The Members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, led by Chair Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, stood with advocates to announce two of the Caucus’ 2022 legislative and budget priorities relating to childhood lead poisoning and cumulative impacts.

The Members voiced their support for a proposed $1 billion budget investment paired with a legislative package to address primary prevention of the childhood lead poisoning crisis in New York State, which has more children with elevated blood lead levels than any other state in the nation. The bills in this package include:

  • S.2142 (Kavanagh)/A.6608 (Rivera) to require testing for lead paint at the point of real estate sale
  • S.6554 (Bailey)/ A.7117 (Bronson) to increase lead-safe renovations
  • S.7567 (Parker)/ A.8564 (Fernandez) relates to the definition of blood lead levels
  • S.3079 (Ryan)/A.7488 (Rivera) to ensure landlords carry insurance that covers any lead poisoning of tenants.

New York State not only has significantly more children with elevated levels of lead in their blood, but it also has the highest percentage of old housing stock. Over five million homes were built before lead paint was fully banned in 1978, and a significant portion likely still contain lead paint.

The Caucus also announced its commitment to passing two key bills to address the cumulative impacts faced in low-income communities and communities of color.

  • S1031B (Stewart-Cousins)/A2103 (Pretlow) requires agencies to prepare an assessment of the existing burdens on a community as part of an application process to site facilities in these communities, often referred to as environmental justice communities.
  • S3211A (Ramos)/A6530 (Barnwell) will ensure that communities are meaningfully engaged in this process by requiring applicants to involve the public at three points in the permitting process, and to respond to concerns and justify actions taken or not taken in a response to this public input.

Low-income communities and communities of color are often exposed to multiple environmental hazards due to decades of inequitable siting of polluting facilities in their communities. Individually, each facility has a negative impact on the health of residents, including such as asthma, lung and heart disease, increased birth defects, and learning impairments. They also have a negative economic impact on the community, driving down property values, which erodes the tax base and thereby limits the quality of schools, healthcare facilities, and other critical services. And when you combine a number of these facilities and other sources of exposure in a community, the health and economic impacts – referred to as cumulative impacts – are compounded.

The full press conference can be viewed HERE.

Every New Yorker deserves a healthy environment to learn, grow, and live in.That is why the Caucus’ People's Budget sets out a list of priorities aimed at reducing human-made pollutants that harm marginalized communities.” stated Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus. “We moved efficiently to remove lead poisoning from schools, and we need to keep that same energy for the predominantly Black children that are dealing with lead poisoning in housing.”

“I am honored to stand with colleagues from the Caucus, The Lead Free Kids NY Coalition and WE ACT For Environmental Justice, a dynamic group that I am a proud long standing member of, to demand $1 Billion Dollars to eradicate lead from our homes, from our soil and from our water supply—And this commitment must be a generational one, with funds that revolve and are replenished each and every year, for as long as it takes to make us all whole.” stated Senator Cordell Cleare.

"Environmental injustice has plagued black and brown communities for decades, especially my Bronx district. It has caused health problems among my constituents, as the Bronx has one of the highest asthma rates in the country. We cannot allow the horrors of the past to continue hurting our communities. Instead, we must take bold steps and invest in the health and safety of all New Yorkers and our children's futures," stated Assemblymember Kenny Burgos.

“Environmental Justice for our communities will always be one of our top priorities. I am proud to stand with my colleagues today on these important issues,” stated Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow

Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez

“The legislative priorities are critical for New York’s communities of color, who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Studies show that Black children are nearly three times more likely to have highly elevated blood-lead levels, and due to redlining and other long-standing forms of systemic racism, people of color are far more likely to live in communities that are exposed to multiple environmental hazards due to the polluting facilities in their neighborhood. Allocating $1 billion of the State budget for addressing lead hazards and passing legislation to make the SEQR process more equitable will reduce the cumulative toxic burden that has been harming the health of New Yorkers of color for generations. We thank Chairwoman Assemblymember Solages and the whole BPHRA Caucus for championing these important legislative priorities.”

“We are proud to stand here today with these outstanding legislative leaders to call on the Senate Majority Leader, the Assembly Speaker and both houses of our government to add $1 billion dollars to the state budget and policy proposals to ignite rapid, primary prevention action to address the ongoing problem of childhood lead poisoning in New York State,” said Paul Webster, Program Director for Clean and Healthy New York, a statewide environmental health and justice organization. “Communities with an enduring lead paint crisis also often face numerous other environmental health hazards, and these concerns need to be addressed cumulatively - which is why we applaud the Caucus’ commitment to policies that address cumulative impacts and public participation in New York’s low-income areas and communities of color.”