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June 18, 2007

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Legislature should pass two key bills before session ends

Two pieces of significant environmental legislation deserve approval as this year's state legislative session winds down. It's important that they do not fall through the cracks.

The first is the Climate Change Solutions Act & Fund. The bill would take 100 percent of the revenue generated from the auctioning of carbon emission allowances to utilities and use it toward energy efficiency and renewable energy development. Power plants will pay for the right to use a portion of the approximately 64.3 million tons of allowed emissions.

One potential drawback of the program is increased energy rates. But over the long run, electric bills for consumers would fall because of increased energy efficiency. Additionally, reduction of greenhouse gases would improve air quality and combat global warming.

The bill has passed the Assembly but is currently stuck in committee in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the expanded version of the bottle bill has yet to clear either the Assembly or the Senate.

The purpose of that legislation is to finally expand the outdated bottle-redemption law to include noncarbonated containers. The issue is an environmental one, despite what critics say.

Since the bottle bill was enacted in 1982, New York has seen a 74 percent rate of return on bottles and cans. That significantly reduces the amount of litter and nonbiodegradable items in landfills.

With the increase in bottled water, juice and sports drinks since the original law was passed, it makes sense to extend the 5-cent incentive to such containers.

Both the clean energy and bottle bills would go a long way toward decreasing New York's negative effect on the environment. Not to mention the improved quality for its residents. The Legislature should pass both before the session ends.


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