Conservation voters score legislators

The Hudson River, courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Petroleum shipping on the Hudson was one of more than 30 bills used as criteria by the League of Conservation Voters to score state legislators on their voting records.

Twenty-two state legislators earned perfect scores while 36 received failing marks in a first-ever environmental scorecard issued by the League of Conservation Voters.

The scorecard highlights the performance of every state legislator on this year’s key environmental issues. The League of Conservation Voters issued memos on more than 30 bills throughout the session including the plastic bag fee in New York City, a land bank in state forest preserve lands, and a “toxic show and tell” list requiring manufacturers to disclose harmful chemicals in toys, cribs and children’s clothes.

The conservation voters’ scorecard examined voting and sponsorship records on 16 key environmental bills in each house of the Legislature, covering clean energy, public health, transportation, and more. NYLCV scored the most significant bills that passed the Legislature, and graded co-sponsorship for a handful of bills that the organization believes should have passed.

Twenty-two legislators earned a perfect score of 100 and nearly one-quarter of legislators earned a score of 90 percent or better.

Regionally, the highest average scores were in Westchester County and Manhattan, while on average, legislators in Western New York and the North Country/Adirondacks performed the worst.

Thirty-five Assembly members and one state senator received failing remarks.

The Independent Democratic Conference performed the best under the group’s criteria, earning a grade of 97 percent. Senate Democrats earned a score of 89 percent, followed by Assembly Democrats with 82 percent, Senate Republicans at 76 percent and Assembly Republicans at 61 percent.

“Given the obvious challenges for advancing bold environmental policy at the federal level, we need New York’s state legislators to step up,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The good news is — despite a few stragglers — New York boasts strong environmental leaders on both sides of the aisle and they got things done this session.

“There is still much more to accomplish, however, and we will be looking to the legislature to send legislation to create a state transportation plan, require disclosure of toxic chemicals in children’s products, and to preserve farmland in Suffolk County to the Governor’s desk next year.”

Senators earning a perfect score of 100 are: Marisol Alcantara, Neil Breslin, David Carlucci, Martin Malave Dilan, Jesse Hamilton, Todd Kaminsky, George Latimer, Velmanette Montgomery, Daniel Squadron.

Assembly members earning a perfect score of 100 are: Robert Carroll, David Buchwald, Patricia Fahy, Sandy Galef, Deborah Glick, Daniel O’Donnell, Amy Paulin, Dan Quart, Linda Rosenthal, Nily Rozic, Rebecca Seawright, Aravella Simotas and Fred Thiele, Jr.

Low scores in the Senate went to James Sanders with 60 percent; Kevin Parker and Joseph Robach with 67 percent; and Sue Serino, John Bonacic, Betty Little, Joe Griffo, Jim Tedisco, James Seward, Fred Akshar, Cathy Young, Patrick Gallivan, Michael Ranzenhofer, and Robert Ortt, all scored at 69 pecrent

Low scores in the Assembly went to Maritza Davila and Kieran Michael Lalor, earning 33 percent; Christopher Friend with 36 percent; Inez Dickens with 40 percent; David Gantt with 44 percent; Dov Hikind and David DiPietro at 45 percent; Karl Brabenec at 50 percent; Michael Montesano and Marc Butler with 53 percent; Carmen Arroyo, Michael Fitzpatrick, Ron Castorina, Jr., Nicole Malliotakis, Kevin Byrne, Brian Miller, Ken Blankenbush, Bob Oaks, Philip Palmesano, Stephen Hawley, Michael Norris and Angelo Morinello, all earning a score of 56 percent; Al Graf, Christine Pellegrino and Gary Finch with 60 percent; Edward Ra, Brian Curran, Steven McLaughlin, William Barclay, Joseph Errigo, Robin Schimminger, Joseph Giglio and Andy Goodell with 63 percent; and Earlene Hooper and Michael Kearns with 64 percent.

The League of Conservation Voters named Jamaal Bailey, Yuh-Line Niou and Nily Rozic as “rising stars” because they were high scorers and they represent a new generation of legislators who are making protecting the environment and fighting climate change a top priority, the group said.

Senator Bailey has been outspoken on access to healthy food, Assemblywoman Niou was a vocal advocate for clean water funding in the budget and Assemblywoman Rozic is leading the charge for better buses statewide and has generated significant momentum for her bill to create a state transportation plan.

The group named Sen. Kemp Hannon its “Clean Water Champion” for his leadership in the creation of a Drinking Water Quality Council that will address emerging threats to water quality and improve testing for unregulated contaminants. He was also the lead sponsor of a bill to help ensure proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste so that it does not end up in state waterways and disrupt marine life, and legislation to lower the definition of elevated blood lead levels.

Senators Patty Ritchie and Todd Kaminsky were recognized for their willingness to put partisan politics aside to do what is right for the environment.

Senator Ritchie was the highest scoring Republican in either house of the Legislature and has been a strong protector of New York’s family farmers. Similarly, Senator Kaminsky has collaborated with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work on behalf of Long Islanders and was a particularly strong voice for clean water.

The League of Conservation Voters named Amy Paulin and Joe Griffo “renewable energy trailblazers.” The scorecard notes they were “an effective tandem as chairs of the Energy Committee in their respective houses. They were the lead sponsors and champions of bills to increase electric vehicle adoption and promote the development of energy storage, both of which sailed through the Legislature.”

Since 2003, NYLCV has issued an Environmental Scorecard for the New York City Council to both hold council members accountable for their votes on the environment and to encourage members to support pro-environment legislation. NYLCV brought this tool to the state level this year, complementing its well-known endorsement process.