by Tom Ellis
ALBANY, NY: Democrat Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy spoke at the September 17 SPB dinner about Environmental Issues in this Election. Carol Waterman introduced her saying Ms. Fahy opposes casinos anywhere within her district – the 109th. Fahy said there was much success during 2014 including an oil train safety bonding bill that passed in the Assembly but failed in the Senate despite having a Republican sponsor. She will introduce it again in 2015. She said the state government is very restrained in its legal ability to regulate trains and train tracks.
She is a member of the NYS Caucus of Environmental Legislators formed in 2014 to lobby Congress.
Ms. Fahy favors bike lanes and protected bike lanes, lives in Albany, rides a bike but is nervous about night riding, and said Central Avenue is very dangerous for bikers. She rides to work when she can and favors the Madison Avenue bike lanes initiative. She said where protected bike lanes exist, local retailers have additional customers.
Speaking about conservation easements, she said Bethlehem recently did a comprehensive reassessment, the town is good on smart Growth initiatives, and has a great farmers market. She worked with the town supervisor to draft legislation recently signed into law by Governor Cuomo allowing Bethlehem farmers to obtain tax abatements if they agree to protect their land from development for 15 or more years.
Ms. Fahy said the capital region economic development council is considering a proposal that would provide a building Troy could use year-round for farmers markets.
John Wolcott said he favors a steady state economy as a way to limit pollution growth. He added that economic growth in Albany ignores cultural resources. To a question from Tom Heckman asking if there is any to do economic development without providing tax breaks, Ms. Fahy said she is very concerned about how various government compete with each other in offering tax breaks to developers, and we are in a race to the bottom with such policies. She mentioned an initiative from Hilda Spitzer called the “I Love New York Program” whose purpose was to try to retain new college graduates from moving to other states.
Don Rittner said he favors the NYS Historic Tax credits that facilitate the rehabilitation of buildings and neighborhoods. He also appreciates the 30 percent tax break available to film makers who make movies in NYS. Ms. Fahy said she opposed the tax refund many New Yorkers with children and incomes above $40,000 will soon receive.
Mark Schaeffer said we can live better dematerializing our economy; he discussed climate change saying he favors energy efficiency and renewables, building retrofits, and halting fossil fuel development.
Regarding the Safe Act, she said she supported it despite disliking the process used to enact it.; she said NYS is one of the few states to address gun issues.
Tim Truscott said the NYS navigation laws and regs have not been updated since 1999 and many shippers pay no fees to use NYS waters. Ms. Fahy said it is a big problem that current state law limits the state oil spill fund to only $25 million, far below what a major spill would cost to re-mediate.
She expressed alarm over an incident in Menands when an ambulance could not get to a woman who had a heat attack because a long oil train was blocking intersections.
Published in October/November, 2014 Save the Pine Bush Newsletter