Power Companies to be Held Accountable

Assembly passes Ramos’ legislation authorizing notification of toxic air emissions

Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) recently announced the Assembly passage of his legislation requiring swift notification to the public and the Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) when power plant owners exceed air emission limits (A.5328).

"Citizens in our community and across the state have a right to know when air emission standards are violated and how their health is being threatened," said Ramos.

Ramos noted that reports by the Department of Health have shown that Suffolk County suffers from disproportionate rates of breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancers. Within the last few years, the DEC fined the New York Power Authority over $500,000 for exceeding acceptable levels of ammonia, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide at the Brentwood facility located at the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center.

"The New York Power Authority has been fined for repeatedly exceeding emissions limits," said Ramos. "This is a health hazard that jeopardizes our families and children across Long Island, and these companies need to be held accountable for their negligent actions."

Ramos’ bill calls for notification to the DEC and the public within 24 hours in instances where limits were exceeded for a second or subsequent time. The Department of Health would then be required to perform a study identifying the health implications of those emissions. The study would have to be completed within 90 days of the notification and then made available to the public.

Another component of the bill mandates that fines collected by the DEC would be spent on an environmental and/or community projects within five miles of that violation.

"It’s only fair that these fines help the very communities they harm, and that community has a right to be informed when it’s being polluted and put at risk," Ramos said. "It’s time the New York Power Authority and the DEC were required to report unsafe levels of pollution to our community. I strongly urge the Senate to pass this bill, and the governor to make it law."

Assemblyman Ramos’ bill is part of the Assembly’s Earth Day package containing several measures to reduce air pollution, preserve our water and soil and protect New Yorkers from harmful pesticides and contamination. Some of those bills include:

  • prohibiting the open burning of solid waste (A.3073);
  • reducing major electric generating facilities’ carbon dioxide emissions (A.4459);
  • create an electronic recycling program to ensure the proper disposal of electronic waste (A.1454);
  • restrict the sale of products containing mercury, such as thermostats, when non- mercury substitutes are available (A.6850); and
  • investigate the sale and use of industrial strength pesticides in urban in order to prevent pesticide poisoning (A.6448).