Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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Rockland County’s poor air quality criticized

NEW CITY – Rockland County residents, members of the county’s chapter of the Sierra Club, along with others, pressed the county legislature Tuesday night to support legislation aimed at improving the counties air quality. 

“Rockland County has been rated a D for air quality by the American Lung Association” bemoaned Jackie Drexler, a concerned resident who urged the legislature to pass a memorializing resolution that calls on the State Department of Environmental Conservation to modify its oil and gas air emission regulations in order to protect the health of New York residents. 

“It is imperative that we transition as quickly as possible to renewable energy” warned Peggy Kurtz, the president of Rockland County’s Sierra Club, after listing all of the harmful chemicals introduced into the air by the burning of fossil fuel, which include substances like formaldehyde and methane.

The measure passed by a vote of 12 to 1. Legislator Itamar Yeger, the newest member; cast the only vote against it.

He explained that he won’t vote in favor of any memorializing resolutions as he “just doesn’t think that they are necessary for effective operation of the body” and that letters sent to the state legislature “provide a more personal touch” and are “more effective.” 

Yeger said that it was unfortunate that the memorializing measure “was the first one that came in” during his tenure and that he would have preferred to simply abstain from the vote where that allowed. 

Legislator Harriet Cornell, who sponsored the memorializing legislation, believes that the measure “will be much more potent” than previous environmental regulations proposed by the legislature and previous memorializing resolutions.                  Unlike other resolutions sent to state government, this one will be sent directly to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation instead of the state legislature. 

By putting the resolution directly in the hands of the relevant agency, Legislator Cornell and others believe it will have a much stronger impact on the decision-making process and will result in new and more stringent regulations which will improve the air quality, not just in Rockland County, but in all of New York State. 


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