Queens lawmaker passes bills protecting the environment, keeping children safe

State Senator Michael Gianaris announces the passage for two bills protecting the environment and keeping children safe. (QNS/File)

Western Queens community leaders are hailing state Senator Michael Gianaris after his bills protecting the environment and keeping children safe were passed in the upper chamber. Gianaris’ bills were part of a package of legislation passed by the Senate after Earth Week observations on the fight against the climate crisis.

With Gianaris serving as Deputy Majority Leader, theSenate enacted the CLCPA, a historic law to combat the climate crisis by mandating aggressive reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions, improves resiliency efforts, ensures local job creation through energy transition, and promotes environmental justice by controlling the regressive impacts of climate change mitigation.

“The clock is ticking on our planet’s health and we must take aggressive action today if we are to solve the climate crisis,” Gianaris said. “I am pleased the State Senate has made protecting our environment a priority since day one, including passing the nation-leading CLPA, and continues to fight for even better and more creative solutions to our shared existential challenge.”

His legislation mandating lead testing in parks was passed requiring that all drinking water fixtures in state and local parks are tested for lead every three years, and if lead contamination is found, abatements need to be made within 90 days.

“Children and families are using New York’s green spaces now more than ever,” Gantry Parent Association Immediate Past Board Chair Meghan Cirrito said. “It is imperative that we protect our children from lead – a toxic substance that can damage children’s precious brains. We thank Senator Gianaris for keeping children and families safe in the parks throughout New York.”

The city has more than 3,500 drinking water fixtures in parks. Lead exposure can cause serious illness and injury to children and scientists have recently stated consuming lead at any level can pose a risk. The second bill would close a loophole in the Environmental Conservation Law by allowing the state to prevent environmental malfeasance by seeking more aggressive enforcement and injunctive relief.

“We know how critical it is to take action against those who damage our environment,” Newtown Creek Alliance Executive Director Willis Eakins said. “This legislation will not only hold bad actors accountable, but it will also enable the state to take action against those who see monetary damages as just the cost of doing business. This is a major step forward for chronically polluted areas like Newtown Creek and we are very thankful for Senator Gianaris’ leadership on this issue.”

Rob Basch, the president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, which advocates for the waterfront green spaces in Long Island City, applauded Gianaris for the environmental protections.

“Western Queens is on the frontlines of the fight against climate change, and we need to do our best to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Basch said. “The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy thanks Senator Gianaris for standing up for our communities, our parks, and our children.”