In the past, I have supported legislation that would limit the use of hydraulic fracturing ("hydrofracking"). New York's watershed is an invaluable resource, providing clean water and contributing to the livelihood of all who live, work and visit our state. As a strong supporter of preserving our water, I believe that the risks and potentially harmful effects of hydrofracking for natural gas must be further studied before we can use it as a new source of energy fuel. Hydrofracking extracts natural gas from the ground by pumping chemicals and water at high pressure, argued to be a more cost effective option than drilling for oil. However, hydrofracking could result in environmental damage and has already been named as a dangerous source of contamination in Pennsylvania. After listening to the concerns and opinions of my constituents, I sponsored legislation that established a moratorium on hydrofracking. This legislation, A5424-A, would halt the issuance of permits for hydraulic fracturing in New York State until May 15, 2015, so that a comprehensive health impact assessment can be conducted to determine the effects of hydrofracking on the public health. This legislation passed the Assembly and helped to further promote safe energy practices in New York. Additionally, I sought to prevent the misuse and mistreatment of wastewater produced by hydrofracking. I introduced A4559, which prohibits the use of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing for dust control or de-icing on roadways in New York State. I also sponsored A5975, which seeks to ensure that the wastewater produced by hydrofracking does not end up in public water supplies.
Green Roof Gardens
If New York is to do its part in curbing climate change, we need to implement solutions that efficiently allocate our existing resources. This includes utilizing unused spaces. Many building rooftops could be green roofs. By installing rooftop gardens of small shrubs and plants, we can not only beautify our communities, but also provide natural insulation and absorb carbon dioxide. Green roofs absorb the heat of the sun without heating the temperature of the building, which keeps the building cooler in the summer and requires less energy output by the residents. In congested urban areas, where plants are scarce, they will naturally remove harmful greenhouse gases, provide cleaner air and retain water. To foster the use of green roofs, I continue to advocate for A5166, a piece of legislation which I introduced in 2010 that provides for the inspection, certification, and regulation of green roofs, and also offers a tax credit to building owners who install green roofs. Commercial installation of roof gardens can cost $510-524 per square foot, which is why a tax credit would add an extra incentive for building owners to install roof gardens.
New York State is a national leader in the production of solar power. It ranked 10th nationally in 2012 after a growing industry of over 350 businesses employing 3,330 people installed 60 MW of solar capacity. New York ranks 12th nationally in solar production, with the ability to power at least 27,800 homes. This massive expansion of solar power is supported by the New York State Solar Initiative, which provides grants, tax credits, and net metering to homeowners, businesses, and building owners who install solar panels on their property. This session, I voted to extend this initiative, which was set to expire in 2015.
In the coming legislative session, I hope to introduce legislation that will make New York the 24th state to protect solar rights of condominium owners and homeowners bound by the rules of a homeowners association. Every New Yorker should be allowed to save money while actively helping the economy and the environment.