History of DEC- 2010s
DEC tackles urgent issues like preparing for the effects of climate change and controlling invasive species as the agency celebrates 40 years of dedication to protecting the environment. Major successes like preserving the last two undeveloped Finger Lakes are tempered by the loss of two environmental education centers due to austerity measures. New York continues to lead in reducing CO2 emissions from power plants and programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) serve as an example of how collaboration with other states, agencies and non-profit groups will be increasingly necessary for DEC to fulfill its mission as future environmental challenges unfold during uncertain economic times.
- In celebration of DEC's 40th anniversary, the agency's commissioner tours the state, highlighting the many environmental accomplishments DEC has helped make possible since its creation in 1970.
- New York's Invasive Species Council implements the first state classification system of non-native plants and animals to help prevent the spread of invasive species.
- Nine waterbodies in three regions are delisted from the state's Impaired Waterbodies List after DEC finds significant improvements in their water quality.
- After nearly five years and more than 30,000 deer samples with no additional cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) detected in New York, it appears the disease was successfully prevented from becoming established in the wild.
- The City of Rochester and the state agree to preserve the last two undeveloped Finger Lakes, Hemlock and Canadice.
- The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act becomes law, establishing the most comprehensive electronic waste (e-waste) product stewardship program in the country.
- Austerity measures caused by a large state budget deficit lead to the closing of Stony Kill Farm and Rogers environmental education centers. Only two centers, Five Rivers and Reinstein Woods, remain. Some wilderness trails and campgrounds are also closed to save on staffing and maintenance costs.
- DEC adopts a policy requiring some power and industrial plants to use closed-loop cooling systems, reducing incidental fish kills by more than 90 percent.
- RGGI member states hold their 10th auction of "carbon credits." Since 2008, proceeds from the 10 auctions have totaled about $777 million. New York's share is approximately $282 million for investment in programs to save consumers money, benefit the environment and build a clean-energy economy.
- EPA issues more stringent vehicle emission standards following the lead of 14 states, including New York.
- Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act becomes law, requiring manufacturers of some rechargeable batteries to collect and recycle the batteries statewide in a manufacturer-funded program at no cost to consumers.
- DEC issues a revised State Solid Waste Management Plan, proposing new ways for government, businesses and individuals to take a more sustainable approach toward waste management that reduces greenhouse gases and pollution, saves energy, and creates new environmental jobs. The plan sets the ambitious goal of reducing the average amount of solid waste per day that each New Yorker produces by 85 percent by 2030.
- Responding to ever-increasing use of the Internet, DEC launches an online version of its Turn In Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) hotline, previously available only by phone.
- DEC issues a statewide ban on the feeding of black bears in response to increasing conflicts between bears and people.
- The United Nations declares the International Year of Forests, highlighting and encouraging efforts to sustainably manage global forest resources.
- Meltwater from a snowy winter combines with relentless spring rains to bring severe flooding to several counties in northern and central New York. DEC provides assistance to both prevent damage during the floods and help with repairs afterward.
- Improved water quality allows DEC to reopen more than 3,000 acres of marine waters closed to shellfishing for decades on Long Island.
Challenges for Today and Tomorrow
- Reducing CO2 Emissions: DEC will be challenged to achieve the goals for CO2 emissions reductions set by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
- Adapting to Climate Change: Responding effectively to the increasing possibility of more severe rain events, rising ocean levels and more summer days exceeding 90°F will be a challenge to the agency.
- Planning for Mineral Resource Development: Balancing protection of natural resources with development of mineral resources will be a challenge as pressure to develop domestic energy supplies increases.
- Planning for Renewable Energy Development: Pressures to develop renewable energy sources will create their own land- and water-use challenges for DEC.
- Restoring the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF): As pressure mounts to adjust spending priorities during difficult economic times, funding of the EPF is in jeopardy. The challenge will be to restore and maintain funding to the EPF so this important program can continue.
- Pharmaceutical Chemicals in Water Resources: Measurable concentrations of chemicals from drugs used to treat both people and farm animals have been found in the Great Lakes and other waterbodies nationally. Preventing such substances from getting into water bodies, where they can disrupt the endocrine systems of fish and other aquatic animals, will be an ongoing challenge.
- Repairing Aging Water Treatment Plants: As water treatment plants that were built in the 1970s age, DEC will increasingly be challenged to see that critical repairs are made and progress in protecting our water resources continues.
- Evolving Environmental Law Enforcement: DEC will be challenged to keep pace with ever-improving law-enforcement technology and ever-expanding roles for officers in areas like public safety and homeland security since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Enforcing evolving environmental laws will also continue to be a challenge as government, industry, landowners, residents and recreationists wrestle with how best to protect the environment and conserve resources.
- Expanding Universal Access: DEC will need to balance expanding access to wild places for people of all abilities with preserving undeveloped wilderness.
- Wildlife Diseases: Continuing success in preventing further outbreaks of diseases like CWD, as well as containing the spread of diseases like VHS, white-nose syndrome and others will test the agency's resolve.
- Pollution Prevention: Integrating pollution prevention into all of its program activities, developing green chemistry business practices and educational materials, and developing additional alternatives for reuse and disposal of waste pharmaceuticals will challenge DEC going forward.
- Invasive Species: DEC will be challenged to finalize and implement a statewide Invasive Species Management Plan to address the environmental, economic and health threats posed in a globally connected world.