STAFF CONTACT :
The Business Council believes that this legislation, despite its good intentions, would largely duplicate ongoing national efforts and produce uncertain additional public health benefits, but require extensive state resources to implement. Therefore, we recommend against its approval.
Our specific reasons for opposing this bill include the following:
First, the bill creates an public advisory committee to help develop policy regarding public health assessments, but establishes no criteria to assure that the panelists will have relevant expertise. Likewise, the bill excludes both academic and private sector experts from the advisory panel.
Second, the bill imposes a sweeping mandate on affected State agencies and the advisory committee (evaluate any risk assessments on which state standards, regulations and guidance are based, and, within three years, review and revise relevant state regulations to conform to criteria established in the report), while providing zero additional resources to accomplish them. There are literally hundreds of such standards used by the state in its environmental quality programs, and thousands of risk assessments that have served as background in the development of such standards at both the state and federal level. It is difficult to believe that a credible job of assessing this volume of material can be accomplished in the one year study period set forth in this bill.
Third, and perhaps most important, the need for this state-specific initiative is unclear, given ongoing activity at the federal level including:
- the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and
Safety Risks to Children, which was established by President Clinton
in 1997, and which is focusing on the priority issues of asthma,
developmental disorders (including lead poisoning), and cancer, as
well as health issues in schools. It has also developed a database
of federally funded research and information related to children's
health and safety, and
- the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee, comprised of researchers, academicians, health care providers, environmentalists, children's advocates, public health professionals, government employees, and members of the public who advise EPA on regulations, research, and communication issues relevant to children. Most recently, the Advisory Committee argued for more aggressive reductions in mercury emissions from power plants.
Instead of the impossibly broad legislative mandate set forth in A.3749, it would be more appropriate for the state to track and respond to these ongoing national assessments of childrens' public health and safety issues, and focus any additional research and/or regulatory resources that might be made available by the legislation on those issues of greatest priority and relevance to New York State.
For these reasons, The Business Council respectfully recommends against approval of A.3749-A.