Environmental Justice Advisory Board Will Create Model for Inclusive Environmental Justice Policy in New York

December 23, 2019

Governor Cuomo today signed legislation (S.2385/A.1564) to create a permanent Environmental Justice Advisory Board and Interagency Coordinating Council. The Advisory Board will create a model environmental justice policy that ensures that New Yorkers, regardless of race, income, gender and national origin, have a right to fair treatment and meaningful involvement in the development of regulations and policies that affect the quality of their environment. The Interagency Coordinating Council will provide guidance to each state agency implementing environmental justice policies.

"For too long, low-income and minority communities disproportionately shouldered some of the worst environmental impacts, in some cases leading to severe asthma rates and other lifelong health issues," Governor Cuomo said. "Empaneling these advisory bodies will help right that historic wrong by ensuring those very communities have a seat at the table as we develop environmental justice policies and other measures to combat climate change."

The Environmental Justice Advisory Board will be appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. Duties of the Advisory board will be to adopt a model environmental justice policy that is applicable to the work of state agencies, recommend improvements on environmental justice policy to the Governor and Legislature and comment on any proposed environmental rules by the State or Federal government relevant to environmental justice. The 16-member Advisory Board will be comprised of 5 representatives from community-based organizations who advise and assist minority and low-income communities on environmental matters, 4 representatives from the business community and 7 representatives from state or national organizations who promote environmental conservation research and education.

The Environmental Justice Interagency Coordinating Council will be comprised of Commissioners from various agencies including the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, Commissioner of Economic Development, Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, President of the Environmental Facilities Corporation, President of NYSERDA, Chairman of the Power Authority as well as environmental justice coordinators designated by affected agencies. Duties of the Interagency Coordinating Council will be to provide guidance to state agencies that are adopting Environmental Justice policies and serving as a clearinghouse of information on environmental justice for state agencies and the public by maintaining publicly available resources.

Senator Kevin Parker said, "These new advisory bodies will help guide New York as we move forward and correct longstanding environmental injustices. Every person, no matter their race, religion, income or national origin, has a right to have their voice heard on policy decisions that affect their environment. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this critical legislation and leading the way for a greener New York."

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Environmental Justice is about correcting negligent environmental policy and building a more inclusive future that protects the environment for every New Yorker, regardless of their race or creed. As the leading state in the nation fighting climate change, we have an obligation to ensure that we do not forget New York's most vulnerable in the decisions that we are making. I commend the Governor for keeping New York on the right path."