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.
  • Expand effective recycling policies, like New York’s bottle deposit law.
*Check out our New Yorkers Guide to Fight Plastic Pollution.
New York officials split on special ballot proposals  (Adirondak News, October 18, 2021)
Supporters, critics sound off on green amendment, on statewide ballots next month  (Newsday, October 16, 2021)
Hochul wants to 'blow up JCOPE.' But how?  (San Antonio Express News, October 15, 2021)
Voters statewide will have a say on major and minor changes to New York Constitution  (The Buffalo News, October 15, 2021)
House Republican followed Trump's self-dealing model, spent thousands on her own companies: report  (Salon, October 14, 2021)
Why is Gov. Kathy Hochul calling Cynthia Nixon?  (City & State, October 13, 2021)
Firm that hired ex-Cuomo aide received no-bid state contract  (Newsday, October 10, 2021)
Redistricting referendum could extend Democratic enrollment advantage  (Newsday, October 9, 2021)
Gov. Kathy Hochul has had a heck of a New York honeymoon  (City & State, October 8, 2021)
Kathy Hochul wants to clean up Albany. So did the last guy.  (Politico, October 7, 2021)
What the Five Ballot Proposal Questions Mean for New Yorkers this November  (The City, October 5, 2021)
Wall Street dumps shares of Greenidge Generation stock ahead of air emissions hearings on ‘carbon neutral’ bitcoin mining  (Fingerlakes1.com, October 4, 2021)
Make polluters pay, activists tell Schumer: ‘You make a mess, you clean it up’  (NY Daily News, October 3, 2021)
Tish James tiptoes  (Newsday, September 29, 2021)
Kathy Hochul wants to clean up Albany. So did the last guy.  (Politico, September 29, 2021)
New York’s redistricting tests Democratic opposition to gerrymandering  (The Washington Post, September 27, 2021)
In redistricting, big cities have big say in power balance  (The Sentinel Record, September 27, 2021)
State government has a corruption problem, can Sen. Biaggi fix it?  (The Riverdale Press, September 26, 2021)
In redistricting, big say for big cities in DC power balance  (ABC News 12, September 26, 2021)
State government has a corruption problem, can Sen. Biaggi fix it?  (The Riverdale Press, September 26, 2021)
News Archive
NYPIRG Is Hiring: Environmental Policy Director
NYPIRG Is Hiring: New York City Equity and Resiliency Projects Regional Director
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
Letter to DEC: NYPIRG Calls for Clear and Accessible Public Reporting on Climate Progress
Policy Close Up: Climate Scorecard 2021
Tale of the Tape: NYPIRG’s 2021 Legislative Review
Environmental groups call for a moratorium on the operation of cryptocurrency mining centers
NYPIRG Statement on Passage of Legislation to Ensure All New Yorkers Have Testing for Dangerous Unregulated Contaminants
Senior, Consumer, Disability, and Civic Organizations Urge Passage of Grieving Families Act
Groups Urge Modernization of NY’s Pre-Civil War Wrongful Death Statute
On Eve Of 50th Anniversary Of NY's Approval Of The 26th Amendment, NYPIRG and120+ College Groups Urge Lawmakers To Approve Legislation Placing Polling Places On Colleges
NYPIRG joined with four dozen public health, consumer, and animal welfare groups to urge Governor Cuomo and the legislative leaders to act to improve protections against the rise of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that originate from farms and food.
Council Members, Climate Activists New York City Council to Enact Gas Free NYC Bill to Reduce Air Pollution and Create Green Jobs
NYPIRG Reacts to Closure of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
NYPIRG Reacts to President Biden's Free Community College Proposal
Reports & Features Archive