League gives Long Island Democrats high scores on environment

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State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and other Long Island Democratic senators received perfect scores from the state League of Conservation Voters. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

The New York League of Conservation Voters describes 2019 as a banner year for environmental legislation in the state, and the group’s report shows many Long Island politicians played a hand in that.

State politicians representing Nassau’s North Shore were mostly given high marks from the environmental group, with state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and state Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso (D-Port Washington) receiving perfect scores. 

State Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) received a score of 67 percent, while state Assemblyman Chuck Lavine (D-Roslyn) got 78 percent. 

Grades were based on how officials voted on 16 environmental bills including the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act; congestion pricing; a program requiring paint manufacturers to accept unused paint; performance standards for water saving, a 1,4-dioxane ban; a ban on the use of PFA chemicals in food packaging; a ban on the use of harmful chemicals in children’s products; prohibiting the harvesting of bunker fish; increasing elected state officials’ oversight of the State Transportation Plan; e-bike and e-scooter use; prohibiting offshore drilling; extending the statute of limitations to allow water authorities to sue polluters; protections for Class C streams; subsidies for renewable energy generators that were built before 2003; a low carbon fuel standard; and a renewable energy credit program for utility customers. 

The credit program would allow utility customers to buy credits in renewable energy generation facilities which are then credited to their account, according to the conservation league’s report.  The program effectively provides New Yorkers who cannot install renewable energy resources on their property an opportunity to participate in net metering, which is when energy consumers who generate some of their own energy transfer their surplus to the power grid to offset their electricity costs.

Kaplan and D’Urso voted in favor of every environmental bill that the voting group included in the scoring. Ra voted against congestion pricing, allowing e-bikes and e-scooters, renewable energy credit program for utility customers and banning PFA chemicals in food packaging. Lavine voted against instituting a low carbon fuel standard, protections for Class C streams,  renewable energy credit program for utility customers and banning PFA chemicals in food packaging. 

All of Long Island’s Democratic state senators – Kaplan,  Todd Kaminsky of Long Beach,  Monica Martinez of Brentwood,  James Gaughran of Northport,  John Brooks of Seaford and Kevin Thomas of Levittown – were awarded perfect scores from the environmental league. 

Only 26 of the 63 members of the state Senate received perfect scores. In the 150-member state Assembly, 40 members were given perfect scores. 

Kaminsky received the distinction of “Environmental Champion” from the group for his work as chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and for his leadership in passing a number of environmental initiatives, including bans on 1,4-dioxane and offshore drilling. 

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