Protect the Environment & Public Health

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.

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.

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.
New York is overhauling campaign finance. But not the loophole that makes party fundraising stronger  (The Buffalo News, March 21, 2023)
NY hospital lobby effectively paid severance for Hochul campaign staffers with ‘housekeeping’ donation  (New York Post, March 21, 2023)
New York's budget negotiations and climate change  (WAMC, March 20, 2023)
Sunshine weak in Albany: As predicted, New York Legislature does nothing to advance open government  (Daily News, March 18, 2023)
Advocate calls on oil companies to pay for damage caused by climate change  (CBS 6 Albany, March 17, 2023)
Fight for government transparency more challenging than ever  (, March 16, 2023)
NYPIRG Applauds Sen. One-House Dealing w/ Climate; Urges Gov & Assy: Ensure NY 1st State to Make Polluters Pay  (readMedia, March 14, 2023)
Gatekeepers control access to public’s right to know  (The Daily Gazette, March 14, 2023)
Darkness plagues Albany during "Sunshine Week"  (WAMC, March 14, 2023)
Fight for government transparency is tougher than ever  (The Daily Gazette, March 11, 2023)
Bottle bill needs to be revamped  (The Daily Freeman, March 10, 2023)
NY should raise deposit on beverage containers to increase recycling, reduce trash   (, March 9, 2023)
New York students rally for public higher ed investments  (WAMC, March 9, 2023)
Brooklyn BP and Building Owners Urge Mayor Adams to Implement Climate Law  (BK Reader, March 8, 2023)
Hochul facing fight over cigarette tax hike, ban on flavored tobacco  (Newsday, March 7, 2023)
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result  (WAMC, March 6, 2023)
Advocates in NY see 'legacy' in public campaign financing program  (Spectrum News, March 6, 2023)
Bigger Better Bottle Bill must be implemented  (Albany Times-Union, March 6, 2023)
NY lawmakers balking at plan to boost small-dollar campaign donations. Supporters are pushing back.  (Gothamist, March 2, 2023)
Edificios de oficinas podrían eludir mejoras energéticas gracias a ‘vacío enorme’ en ley ambiental de Nueva York, advierten los ambientalistas  (City Limits, March 1, 2023)
News Archive
NYPIRG REACTS TO ONE-HOUSE BUDGET BILLS – This week, both houses released their "one house" budget bills. Now lawmakers' attention will turn to negotiating differences. Here are key policy areas where NYPIRG has advocated and for which the Governor, the Senate, and the Assembly have established budget positions.
Release: New York’s Tobacco Control Efforts are “Up In Smoke” Due to Shrinking State Support
Report: Up In Smoke: Billions from Tobacco Use, Pennies for New York’s Tobacco Control
REPORT: Rebuild by Design releases the report “Atlas of Disaster: New York State” that identifies the impacts of recent climate disasters across New York State at the county level, for the years 2011-2021.
Top Big Oil Corporations Announce Record $215 Billion 2022 Profits – New Yorkers Tell Albany Leaders: Make Climate Polluters Pay!
NYPIRG and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness Release Policy Paper on Economic Benefits of Higher Education
NYPIRG Reacts to the Governor's 2023-2024 Executive Budget
Statewide Poll Finds New Yorkers Strongly Support “Bottle Bill” Program Expansion
150 Organizations Call on Governor to Include Modernized “Bottle Bill” in Budget
Advocates to Governor Hochul: Make "greedy" oil companies pay for climate damages! In Albany, standing in the shadow of a giant inflatable pig, a coalition of environmentalists called on the governor to make the world’s largest oil companies pay for the staggering infrastructure costs of dealing with climate change. The groups estimated that those costs could total $100 billion in New York over the next decade, with more expenses as the world’s climate worsens.
Ahead of the 2023 State of the State, more than 200 groups released a letter sent to Governor Hochul urging her to make big oil companies, not taxpayers, financially responsible for the growing climate damages facing the state.
Environmental & Climate Groups Urge Governor to Sign Right to Repair Bill
Senior, Consumer, Disability, And Civic Organizations Urge Governor Hochul to Approve the “Grieving Families Act” - Legislation Passed with Overwhelming Bipartisan Majorities, but has Not Yet Been Sent to the Governor
NYPIRG Statement on Climate Action Council’s Approval of Its Scoping Plan
NYPIRG Reacts to Independent Redistricting Commission Proposed Assembly Boundaries
Over 300 New York Environmental, Community Groups, Redemption Centers, Canners, and Faith Groups, Call on Governor Hochul to Modernize NY’s Bottle Bill with a “Bigger Better Bottle Bill”
NYPIRG Applauds Passage of Environmental Bond Act, Urges Gov and Lawmakers to Act on Additional Measures
126 Groups Urge Governor & CAC to Support All-Electric Buildings Start in 2024
UPCOMING EVENTS! Securing Our Future: Saving Social Security from the Chopping Block
Watchdogs Ask New Members of Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government to Reset Expectations about NYS Ethics Oversight
Groups’ Recommendations Would Improve Enforcement, Transparency, and Training
Reform groups urge the new state ethics commission to get to work this month
Reports & Features Archive