Protect the Environment & Public Health

environment
Since its founding in 1976, NYPIRG has been a leading voice in New York State on a wide range of environmental and energy issues. The goal of NYPIRG’s environmental protection campaign is to make New York a global leader in protecting public health from the serious threats of water and air pollution, climate change, and toxic chemical exposure.
*Want to join the fight? Sign up for NYPIRG’s Community Action Network to get informed and get involved! It is through civic action that we can protect the public’s health and New York's natural environment.

Help Fight Climate Change

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat facing the planet. The accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing extreme weather events, harmful algal blooms, ocean acidification, and rising sea levels. If left unabated, this will have devastating impacts on New York’s economy, infrastructure, public health, coastal areas, and natural ecosystems. NYPIRG is fighting for comprehensive policies that will set New York up to lead the charge to combat climate change.
*Visit our climate change webpage to learn more about our work on this critical issue.
environment

Clean Drinking Water for All New Yorkers

The public has the basic right and expectation from government that the water coming from their taps is going to be safe for them to drink. Sadly, New York’s abundant water resources are threatened by aging and crumbling water infrastructure, chemical contamination from industrial sites, and fossil fuel development, transportation, and waste. NYPIRG is advocating for aggressive policies that would stop water contamination crises by protecting drinking water from source to tap.

Fully Funded Water Infrastructure

New York State has some of the oldest water infrastructure in the country, with many pipes over 100 years old. New York has gone decades without properly funding these systems, which has meant billions of gallons of untreated sewage entering our waterways and hundreds of water main breaks annually.
It has been estimated that over the next 20 years, $80 billion will need to be invested to make all of the needed repairs, replacements, and updates to New York’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. New York must commit to annual funding that will meet outstanding water infrastructure needs.

Regulate Dangerous Chemicals

There are over 80,000 unregulated chemicals on the market, many without any evidence to prove that they are safe for public health. When chemicals are unregulated, there is a greater chance that they can get into our water – which is exactly what has happened in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, Newburgh, and numerous communities on Long Island. New York cannot keep waiting for people to get sick from exposure to dangerous chemicals to take action – this is a vicious cycle that must be broken.
To prevent chemical contamination in water and exposure, New York should:
  • Establish drinking water standards, known as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), for contaminants believed to be unsafe for public health and likely to show up in drinking water.
  • Protect land around source water.
  • Regulate or ban the use of dangerous chemicals in products.
*Check out our What’s in My Water? web tool to get information about your local drinking water supply.
environment

Cutting Back on Waste Production

New York has a trash problem, which is contributing to climate change and dirtying communities and waterways. The average New Yorker produces over 4.5 pounds of trash per day, and New York’s landfills accept approximately six million tons of waste per year statewide – and that does not include the waste that New York sends to incinerators and out of state. NYPIRG is working to ensure that New York moves forward with policies that prevent the production of waste and improve recycling initiatives.

Ban & Reduce Single-Use Plastics

New York must do everything in its power to reduce and eliminate plastic waste. Experts estimate that over eight million tons of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans each year, and that amount is likely to increase dramatically over the next decade unless states and nations act. The plastic that ends up in the ocean is not just unsightly and harmful to aquatic life – it ends up in the food chain, including shellfish, fish, and even sea salt.
Additionally, reliance on plastics is worsening the global climate crisis. Over 99% of plastics are sourced from fossil fuels. The most common source of plastic resin in the United States is natural gas. This means that the more plastic society uses, the longer the fossil fuel industry is kept running. While climate science is telling us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the natural gas industry is planning to expand production of polyethylene (a building block for plastic) by 75% in the next few years.
Thankfully, New York has taken some steps in the right direction by banning plastic bags and foamed polystyrene, but the work cannot stop there. To address the plastics crisis, New York should:
  • Ban rigid polystyrene containers and packaging.
  • Adopt “upon request” policies for plastic straws, utensils, and stirrers.
  • Require packaging producers to bear responsibility for recycling and disposal of post-consumer products.
  • Transition the market towards more reusable items.
  • Update and expand the state’s highly successful container deposit redemption program. Modernize the Bottle Bill!
*Check out our New Yorkers Guide to Fight Plastic Pollution.
NY State can help overcome voter suppression of college students  (WAMC, January 27, 2022)
The NY Legislature takes up Governor Hochul's Budget  (WAMC, January 24, 2022)
Sheldon Silver, former Assembly speaker, dies at 77  (Newsday, January 24, 2022)
State assemblyman proposes raising bottle deposit to 10 cents  (Niagara Gazette, January 22, 2022)
Breaking down the 2023 state budget proposal  (My Twin Tiers, January 21, 2022)
Mayor Adams Must Do More to Speed Up Buses, Advocates Say  (Streetsblog, January 21, 2022)
Hochul Amassed a Campaign Fortune. Here’s Who it Came From.  (The New York Times, January 20, 2022)
New York good-government advocates want moratorium on cryptomining  (Spectrum News, January 20, 2022)
NY weighs dime deposit  (Allotsego.com, January 20, 2022)
Democrats Likely to Take Control of New York Redistricting, Gain Congressional Seats  (The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2022)
New York's bottle return law would expand under new bill  (Spectrum News, January 17, 2022)
Cahill introduces legislation to modernize bottle bill  (Niagara Frontier Publications, January 17, 2022)
Legislation introduces revised bottle bill to include ten-cent returns  (ABC News 10, January 15, 2022)
Progressive, watchdog groups urge oversight in economic development  (Spectrum News, January 14, 2022)
Redemption centers, environmental groups urge bottle bill expansion, deposit increase to ten cents  (Fingerlakes1.com, January 14, 2022)
Hochul urged to expand bottle deposit law in New York  (Spectrum News, January 13, 2022)
New York’s higher education system gets renewed attention from Hochul  (Spectrum News, January 11, 2022)
Senate Advances Pro-Voter Election Reforms  (EIM Newswire, January 11, 2022)
Advocates And State Legislators Call On Gov. Hochul To End Fossil Fuels In New Buildings Through Budget  (Harlem World Magazine, January 11, 2022)
An electric idea in Governor Hochul's State of the State  (WAMC, January 10, 2022)
News Archive
NYPIRG Announces New Staff
Reactions to Governor Hochul’s FY 2022 - 2023 Executive Budget
Seventy-five Bottle Redemption Businesses and Distributors Call on Governor Hochul to Expand and Modernize NY's Bottle Deposit Law
Reactions to Governor Hochul's State of the State
Students Petition Gov Hochul for Student Friendly Executive Budget
News Release: Students Petition Gov Hochul for Student Friendly Executive Budget
NYPIRG Applauds, Criticizes, Gov Hochul’s Approvals and Veto Of Environmental Legislation
New Yorkers Call For an End to Fossil Fuel Subsidies
NYPIRG and over 100 groups call on Gov Hochul to modernize NYS's soon-to-be-40 year old bottle bill.
VICTORY! Danskammer and Astoria Power Plant Permits Denied
Straphangers Campaign Petition to Transform Transit
News Release: NYPIRG Applauds NYS DEC Decisions to Deny Danskammer and Astoria Power Plant Permits
"Vote Yes on the Back" Factsheet: 2021 New York State Constitutional Amendment Ballot Questions
NY Congress Members Urge Speaker Pelosi to Make Polluters Pay for Climate Destruction Costs
NYPIRG Statement on Release of Draft Permit Renewal for The Greenidge Bitcoin Mining Facility
Upstate New York Likely to Lose Representation in Congressional Delegation and State Senate If New Maps Reflect Changes in Population
NYPIRG Statement on the August 2021 report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Release: Leading Climate & Social Justice Organizations Rally Around Make Polluters Pay Plan
Letter: Leading Climate & Social Justice Organizations Rally Around Make Polluters Pay Plan
NYPIRG Calls for Creation of Public Dashboard to Measure Progress Toward New York’s Climate Goals
Reports & Features Archive