Working its way through the New York State Senate is S5166a, a bill that would require the state to revise or eliminate hundreds of state regulations. These regulations cover everything from state environmental regulations on pesticides and diesel emissions to teen labor laws. The sponsor of the bill, Kathy Marchione, a Republican from the Saratoga area, argued that the state is overburdened with regulations that are becoming an impediment to doing business in the State.
However, a coalition of consumer and environmental groups are rallying to fight the bill. According to petitions being circulated by these groups, the rollback of regulations does not include adequate consideration of the health effects of eliminating these regulations on New York residents. "The proposal would undermine longstanding, finely-tuned public interest protections by creating a fast-track process favorable to commercial interests that is not conducive to fair, informed treatment of environmental, consumer and public health concerns," states the coalition’s letter to the Senate.
For example, according to the Albany Times the new law, citing the recent introduction of lower sulfur diesel fuels by energy companies, would force the state to drop the requirement on particulate filters for diesel exhaust systems in vehicles owned by state agencies or authorities. However, it is unclear exactly how much thought has been given to the effects of the new law. After all, these laws were enacted after much research on the detrimental health effects of particulate pollution on asthma and cancer rates.
Certain things are clear. Business groups will be pushing for the speedy enactment of the new Senate rules. Environmental and health groups will oppose, but they will have their work cut out for them. In order to withstand the “business friendly” appeal of the proposed legislation, they will have to demonstrate that any benefits resulting from elimination of obsolete or outdated rules will be outweighed by the harm resulting from reducing health and safety standards.