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August 22, 2008

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

State Senate needs to end battle over bottle bill

After several years of trying to get an expanded bottle bill passed through the New York Legislature, hope has presented itself in the form of Sen. Dean Skelos.

And he should embrace it as an opportunity to put an end to an overly drawn-out battle.

The so-called bigger, better bottle bill has seen major opposition from lobbyists and never received the support of former Senate majority leader Joe Bruno. Without that, the bill had no chance of passage.

The legislation would expand bottle deposits to non-carbonated beverages such as bottled water, iced tea and juice.

These containers make up about 25 percent of beverage sales and 60 percent of beverage containers littering New York's shoreline.

The original bottle bill, passed in 1982, has been successful at reducing litter — dropping total litter rates by 30 percent.

The expanded bill passed the Assembly in June, but as has been typical year after year, died in the Senate. Gov. Paterson supports the bill as well.

But with Skelos now leading the Senate, there's talk of compromise in the air, perhaps resulting in adding just water bottles to the legislation. It would be a start. A little pressure from his constituents might seal the deal.

Pressure aside, Skelos has the chance to finally reach an agreement that all sides can live with.

But most important, he can make a significant impact on the environment.

If non-carbonated bottles were recycled, oil consumption would be cut by 3.3 million barrels per year and greenhouse gas emissions by 281,000 tons.

That's worthwhile. Worth pushing past politics and special interests.

Not to mention, Skelos can show that he does represent hope after all — showing that change and Albany are not mutually exclusive.


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