JOIN THE NYSAR3 LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE!

If you are interested in supporting and shaping NYSAR3’s legislative initiatives, sign up to be a part of NYSAR3’s Legislative Committee and join our monthly conference calls. To join, please email Legislative Committee chair Bodhi Piedmont-Fleischmann at Bodhi.PF@CornerstoneEG.com.

Past legislative efforts taken by the NYSAR3 Legislative Committee can be found here



TAKE ACTION!

Do you want to add your support to one of NYSAR3’s legislative issues? NYSAR3 encourages other individuals and organizations to use the language within our letters to reach out to your legislators in support of these legislative initiatives. Please contact NYSAR3 (NYSAR3@gmail.com) or Bodhi Piedmont-Fleischmann (Bodhi.PF@CornerstoneEG.com) for further information.


NYS A.387-B/S.6750 Pharmaceutical Bill

Please find attached an opposition letter from the New York Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC) and the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) urging the Governor to VETO A.387-B/S.6750 (requiring chain pharmacies to operate a safe disposal site for unused controlled substances).  While we strongly support the intent of the legislation to reduce overdoses and substance abuse by decreasing the easy availability of prescription drugs in the home, we firmly believe that the impact of the law will be negligible for the following reasons:

* It chiefly relies on a mail-back approach which is one of the least effective and more costly ways to collect unwanted pharmaceuticals.

* Many rural/upstate counties would face a dearth of convenient locations where residents could access the mail back program via a pharmacy chain; in order to best address this critical public health issue, there must be wide-spread and convenient drop off of unwanted drugs.  How far do we expect residents to travel to mail back their unwanted drugs?

* The legislation  would preempt any local laws that would require drug manufacturers to assume financial responsibility for the collection and disposal of their unwanted and over-prescribed products; the current legislation places 100% of the financial burden for collection and disposal on pharmacy chains and consumers.

* There is no mechanism set forth in the statute that can be used to measure whether the envisioned mail back program is effective; there are no data reporting requirements by any entity detailing quantities collected and how disposed. We will never know if the legislation is working as intended.

Our other concerns with the legislation are addressed in the attached memo.  NYPSC and PSI join with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3), and the Solid Waste Association of North America's New York State Chapter in urging the Governor to veto A.387-B/S.6750 and pursue more effective legislative approaches that create truly effective collection through convenient drop off and subsequent disposal, funded by the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry; we have model legislation to share for your consideration in this regard.

Download Letter Here


Please Help: Ban the Burning of Caribbean Island Natural Resources

Download Petition Here

Background:

Since 2009, I’ve been working with friends and colleagues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (British and US) to help address solid waste management and other environmental challenges. In fact, I’ve spent the last week on the Puerto Rico main island, its Vieques island municipality, and St. John and St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. After two months since the first storm hit (Irma), Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other communities in the Caribbean are still in the midst of picking-up the pieces from the ravages of the two back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes. Unofficial measurements on St. John had wind gusts approaching 275 MPH—250 MPH on Vieques. The destruction in many locations is beyond belief. For the people on the islands, Irma and Maria were harrowing experiences; in fact, health workers on the islands are seeing cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result.

Children are now growing up fearing the rain while they sleep on the floors of their houses—houses that for all intents and purposes have no viable roofs.

In many cases, the efforts of US government and other responders are helpful and greatly appreciated by island citizens. During the current stage of recovery, however, there is grave concern from many local residents and other off-island experts regarding the potential ecological and human health impacts of a disaster debris management “method of choice” of the US Army Corp of Engineers—Air Curtain Incineration (ACI). The past practice of FEMA and the Army Corp in situations like this has indeed been to use ACI, and they are proposing this for the US Virgin Islands, and possibly for Puerto Rico as well (at this point, it is unclear to Puerto Rican government officials). This would add insult to injury, especially considering that much of the debris is clean wood from fallen trees and limbs, and that it includes other clean vegetation as well.

A few years ago, during Superstorm Sandy in New York City, the Army Corps planned to use ACIs and burn similar debris for four months, but they stopped after one month because they could not get the ACIs to function properly. The burning there happened on federal land in Brooklyn with the nearest home 0.8 miles away. US EPA conducted air monitoring during the burning (this monitoring must also be done in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). Air quality was exceeded during days of high humidity, and that was in November in New York. These are critically important points, because in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, humidity is routinely extremely high, and especially now due to excessive rainfall for the past few months. And, because of the size of the Virgin Islands, it would be very hard to find a location that is at least 0.8 miles from the nearest residence. The facts that there are no pollution controls on ACIs and they often emit particulate matter and other air pollutants has not been clearly explained to local decision-makers and the general public by the Army Corp.

In sum, there is serious and valid concern that this incineration will emit harmful chemicals and remove material that the soil and plants of the islands need to flourish.

As a result of all this, many citizens and organizations in the US Virgin Islands have asked their Governor to oppose the incineration of the debris. Experts on the islands working with me and others from the mainland have developed a workable and beneficial hardwood recovery (for wood crafts), mulching, and composting program. Puerto Rico officials are working toward a similar sustainable plan. A petition has been developed on Change.org by Island Green, a local US Virgin Islands’ organization to ask the Governor to move forward with his original decision not to burn. The Army Corp will take the Governor’s lead. Island Green has been urging residents and others interested in the health and environmental wellbeing of the Virgin Islands to sign this petition, and call and write to the Governor and the members of the Virgin Islands Legislature.

I am asking you to sign the petition as well. This is not simply about the US Virgin Islands. Preventing this archaic incineration option there will have positive implications for Puerto Rico and other disaster impacted areas in the future. Won't you please take a moment to add your name? Here is the link: http://chn.ge/2zHXid0

Along with other Caribbean islands, this region is absolutely devastated from the storms. In many of the places I traveled, the damage is beyond comprehension, even though it’s been two months after the first storm came ashore. What the people there are enduring is incredible, and frankly, much of it inexcusable. There is still so much more to do. In an effort to further help, I will be testifying at a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, 11/14 in Washington about sustainable debris management—only one component of numerous challenges and opportunities on the islands—and I would love to be able report that many thousands of people oppose this burning option. To that end, I thank you in advance for your help.

Please share this and the petition link with others as appropriate.

My sincere regards,
Mark Lichtenstein