‘Oil Slick’ Awarded to Kathy Marchione for Senate’s Reckless Regulatory Giveaway to Industry

2014 Environmental Scorecard  |  EPL/Environmental Advocates  |  Environmental Advocates of New York

EPL/Environmental Advocates, the accountability arm of Environmental Advocates of New York, has released our popular Environmental Scorecard for 2014. As your green government watchdog, we track every vote every legislator takes, and then educate the public on who is committed to protecting our environment and public health – and who is committed to giveaways to polluters.


 

Our goal is to help voters break through the noise on the most pressing environmental issues of the day: oil trains, fracking, invasive species, non-toxic children’s products and more. And in addition to the release of the Scorecard, EPL/Environmental Advocates will be undertaking a level of voter education unlike anything we’ve done before. In the days and weeks ahead, we will be focusing education in some of this year's key battleground races. 
 
You can help:

  1. Take a few minutes now and review how your state legislators scored.
  2. Share the information with your friends and family to ensure people are making informed votes.
  3. Commit to vote. Pledge that this Election Day, November 4 that you will get to the polls.
  4. Donate to help us get this information into the hands of as many New Yorkers as we can this month.

The complete Scorecard can be found online here. Read on for an initial overview of 2014!

Oil Slick Award: EPL/Environmental Advocates also bestowed its dubious Oil Slick Award to Senator Kathleen Marchione (R-Halfmoon) for leading the charge on a reckless attempt to place thousands of protections on the chopping block, turning the state’s clean air, water and health protections over to Industry with little regard for public consequence.
 
Session Overview: There were some clear bright spots in this year’s legislative session, and we have started to see the emergence of true environmental leadership in the Senate. But too often in 2014, advocates and our legislative partners spent too much time swatting away bad ideas from one party or another – or beating back special interest giveaways – rather than moving our state forward. New Yorkers are proud of our clean air, water and public health traditions, and ongoing attempts to roll them back are out of touch.
 
Overall, the Legislature delivered a mixed bag on the environment in 2014. While the Assembly again passed all priority Super Bills – relating to fracking, climate action and non-toxic children’s products – they also passed an environmental rollback and attempted to raid clean energy funds in this year’s budget.
 
75 Assemblymembers earned scores of 100 or higher.
 
In the Senate, the Child Safe Products Act had an astonishing 40 cosponsors and was blocked from a fair up or down floor vote. All told, eight priority environmental bills died in Senator Mark Grisanti’s (R-Buffalo) Environmental Conservation Committee, including several of his own proposals.
 
Just 16 senators earned scores of 90 or higher.
 
On top of it all, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislators failed to follow through on their Brownfields reform pledge, leaving taxpayers on the hook for an out-of-control system that benefits developers but cleans up too few toxic sites.
 
However, there were some bright spots. Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) continued his incredible leadership by advancing environmental protections in his chamber. The Assemblyman, who has spent seven years at the helm of the Environmental Conservation Committee, is retiring this year and his leadership will be greatly missed.
 
Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) found a pathway forward for Senate passage of the Community Risk Reduction and Resiliency Act, which will help communities plan for the impacts of climate change. For the first time since 2011, both houses of the Legislature passed a Super Bill which was signed into law by the Governor.
 
And Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bayshore) and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) joined forces to appeal to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to enact strong carbon caps for power producers. New York State, as part of the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), has proven how carbon caps are good for our economy, health and climate; the nation should follow suit.
 
Conference Overview and Leaders
In the Assembly, the Democratic average was a 97 while the Republican average was a failing 57. Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) earned 100 points while Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Geneva) underperformed much of his conference with just 40 points. In the Senate, the Democratic average was 89, Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) average was 83 and the Republican average was 63. Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), last year’s Oil Slick Awardee, greatly increased his score earning 83 points in 2014; Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) earned 88 points. By comparison, Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), whose district has been beset by climate change, clean water issues and more, earned a paltry 62.
 
The Best
Despite the ongoing majority leadership problems in the Senate, there are many legislators in both houses who are reliably thoughtful about their votes and can be relied upon to make the right choice for our public health and environment.”
 
Assembly: 75 Assemblymembers earned scores of 100 or more (bonus points are awarded in year’s when a Super Bill is signed into law), with five members earning high scores with perfect votes across the board: David Buchwald (D-Mount Kisco), Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston), Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), James Skoufis (D-Chester), and Phil Steck (D-Schenectady). EPL/Environmental Advocates gave honorable mention to Assemblyman Kavanagh for his leadership on climate issues, as well as Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa Park) for significantly outperforming his conference colleagues and consistently earning high marks on environmental issues.
 
Senate: 11 Senators earned high scores (96) in their chamber (where points were lost due to leadership’s refusal to allow votes on two Super Bills): Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Terry Gipson (D-Poughkeepsie), Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan), Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), Jose Serrano (D-Manhattan), Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan) and Toby Stavisky (D-Queens). Senators Kenneth LaValle (R-Mount Sinai) and Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay), with scores of 90, earned high marks among their conference and well above the Senate average.
 
The Worst
The ‘worst’ should probably be renamed ‘the usual suspects’, as there are a handful of legislators focused so intently on racing to the bottom that the public can really only scratch their head at some of these votes.
 
In the Senate, congressional candidate Lee Zeldin (R-Ronkonkoma) is once again his chamber’s low scorer. A past Oil Slick Awardee, Zeldin voted against energy efficiency initiatives, as well as for raiding the state’s clean water funds and creating new loopholes for polluters that could endanger public health. Outgoing Senator Greg Ball (R-Brewster), perhaps showing his flair for “independence” has independently turned his own environmental record on its head, going from one of the Republican Conference’s strongest to weakest performers in just two years (dropping from a 73 in 2012 to 52 in 2014).
 
What can we say about Assemblyman Christopher Friend (R-Big Flats)? If there is a bad bill to vote for or a good bill to vote against, he’s ready. For the fourth year in a row, Friend has scored substantially lower than any and all legislators. This year he earned just 14 points – among the lowest ever recorded – by voting to keep toxic chemicals in children’s products, against climate action, against clean solar energy development, against requiring Big Oil to cover the costs of their own damage in the event of a spill, against energy efficiency initiatives (including state government waste), and even against legislation that ensures recyclables get recycled rather than dumped in landfills.
 
We used to joke that Christopher Friend is no friend to the environment. But the only conclusion we can reach is that Christopher Friend is no friend to reality, as his actions are wildly out of touch with even his most anti-environmental colleagues.
 
In closing, we will be working tirelessly to get this information in the hands of voters before November 4. Please help spread the word, commit to vote, and donate to ensure New York has a Legislature that cares about our environment and public health as much as you do. Copyright © 2014 EPL/Environmental Advocates

Our mailing address is:
EPL/Environmental Advocates
353 Hamilton Street
Albany NY, 12210

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commented 2014-10-10 12:49:52 -0400 · Flag
Thanks to Environmental Advocates for their very hard work to make this resource available for the rest of us. It will be especially useful during the 2015 legislative session.
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.