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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Recycling legislation a top priority"

ALBANY, Aug. 6, 2017 -- It’s August, which means it’s time think about how to get the most out of the rest of the summer but also about what’s in store for the fall.

In a legislative context, it means that a flurry of legislation approved by the state Legislature will be heading to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk for final action. It also means that legislators begin thinking in earnest about measures we sponsor that did not make it through the process this year but that we are going to continue to fight for in 2018.

For example, in my capacity as chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, the Senate approved, with strong bipartisan support, legislation I sponsored in 2017 to enact the “Paint Stewardship Program” and the “Solar Panel Collection Act.”

The “Solar Panel Collection Act” (S.2837/A7757) would establish a solar panel recycling and disposal program in New York State. It would require the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), working with solar panel manufacturers, to develop a program for the collection, transportation, recycling, and disposal of out-of-service solar panels. Manufacturers would finance the program.

As New York State continues to move aggressively forward on developing and utilizing renewable energy -- and we absolutely should -- it’s important to cover the bases. This includes staying ahead of the potential need to collect and properly dispose of or recycle out-of-service solar panels. This legislation offers a commonsense, proactive, economically and environmentally sound approach to managing photovoltaic waste and keeping it out of landfills.

Supporters of the legislation, including the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), caution that the immense growth of the solar energy industry in New York State and nationally could produce a significant amount of photovoltaic (PV) waste. Yet, as NYLCV notes, “As solar has spread there has been little attention given to the proper disposal of solar panels.”

Solar panels contain materials and rare metals valuable for reuse, and the proper and responsible recycling of the panels will help keep them out of landfills. Most manufacturers offer a 20- or 25-year standard solar panel warranty.

Likewise, the establishment of an industry-sponsored “Paint Stewardship Program” (S.881/A.1038) would reduce a costly burden on local governments and local taxpayers currently responsible for collecting and disposing of most post-consumer paint. The New York State Association of Counties, among other supporters, states that the legislation would create local jobs, provide fiscal relief to local property taxpayers, and encourage the environmentally sound recycling and disposal of unused paint in New York State.

It’s an example of how government and industry can work together to implement effective environmental policies and programs. Seeking common ground and cooperation, rather than government cramming unreasonable demands down the throat of industry, can help give New York State a more business friendly environment and actually result in better, more workable laws. Working together will go a long ways on reaching an end-result on other important issues that would benefit our state fiscally, economically, and environmentally.

The national Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) estimates that nearly 4 million gallons of paint go unused each year in New York State -- with the costs of collecting and managing the paint’s disposal mostly falling on local governments to the tune of $25 million annually. Paint stewardship laws been enacted in eight states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont) and Washington D.C. According to the PSI, these laws have already resulted in more than $69 million in taxpayer savings, created over 200 jobs, and led to the recycling of over 17 million gallons of high quality paint (a majority of which is recycled back into paint).

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp

Bottom row: Carl Blowers, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Carl Blowers

Van Harp

Jim Howell

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Michael Lausell

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482

Mark Rondinaro

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Harriett Vickio, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2017
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869