by Roger Caiazza
However noble the concept of eliminating any risks from any source of pollution, if it is construed to mean that anything that might be contributing to bad health must be prohibited, then there will be massive consequences.
My entire career as an air pollution meteorologist has been devoted to upholding the Clean Air Act (CAA). Several New York initiatives are combining to undermine the very foundation of that law. Furthermore, these initiatives are contrary to the premise of my Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog that practical tradeoffs of environmental risks and societal benefits are necessary for workable solutions. This post describes the initiatives and what I believe will be the inevitable consequence.
I have extensive experience with air pollution control theory, implementation, and evaluation over my entire career. I write about New York energy and environmental issues at the Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog. The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with; these comments are mine alone.
It has been over 50 years since Congress established the basic structure of the Clean Air Act in 1970. The EPA summary describes control of common pollutants:
“To protect public health and welfare nationwide, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish national ambient air quality standards for certain common and widespread pollutants based on the latest science. EPA has set air quality standards for six common “criteria pollutants“: particulate matter (also known as particle pollution), ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead.”
“States are required to adopt enforceable plans to achieve and maintain air quality meeting the air quality standards. State plans also must control emissions that drift across state lines and harm air quality in downwind states.”
“Other key provisions are designed to minimize pollution increases from growing numbers of motor vehicles, and from new or expanded industrial plants. The law calls for new stationary sources (e.g., power plants and factories) to use the best available technology, and allows less stringent standards for existing sources.”
My first professional job in 1976 was with a consulting company that did contract work for the Environmental Protection Agency developing emission factors that could be used to analyze and project impacts to public health and welfare. Later I worked for other consultants that evaluated the air quality dispersion models to make sure they provided adequate estimates of predicted air quality impacts from polluting sources. Eventually I went to work for an electric utility where I was responsible for maintaining air quality compliance at their facilities. All my work was a tiny part of the national effort to develop a robust methodology to protect public health and welfare nationwide. On behalf of all my colleagues, I want to say that it is a pretty darn good system.
The goal of the regulatory process is to maintain air quality impacts below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. The primary standards protect public health with an adequate margin for safety. The secondary standards are “designed to protect the public welfare from adverse effects, including those related to effects on soils, water, crops, vegetation, man-made (anthropogenic) materials, animals, wildlife, weather, visibility, and climate; damage to property; transportation hazards; economic values, and personal comfort and wellbeing”. The entire point of this background section is that United States air quality regulation is built around the concept that there is a threshold for adequate safety and if the measured or projected air quality is below those standards then public health is protected.
In the past several years the Precautionary Principle, a strategy to cope with possible risks where scientific understanding is incomplete, has led many to rely on the idea that to be safe we have to eliminate all risks as a precaution. At its core that means that there is no such thing as a threshold for adequate public health safety.
David Zaruk has explained the resulting problem: policy-makers and politicians have confused this uncertainty management tool with risk management. He authors the Risk Monger blog “meant to challenge simplistic solutions to hard problems on environmental-health risks”. He is a professor at Odisee University College where he lectures on Communications, Marketing, EU Lobbying and Public Relations.
I recently compared Zaruk’s analysis of this approach to risk management in the European Union relative to New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) implementation. He explained that “patronizing activists with special interests solely dedicated to seeing industry and capitalism fail is destroying trust in all industries (excluding them from the policy process and equating the word “industry” with some immoral interpretation of lobbying)”. The activists are using the same tactics that worked with the decline of the tobacco industry: “Using the emerging communications tools to create an atmosphere of fear and hate, these activists have successfully generated a narrative that the only solution to our problems is no risks and no thresholds.” Policymakers, perceiving these loud voices as representative, have adopted the path of virtue politics rather than Realpolitik (that is to say policy by aspiration and ideology rather than practical solutions relying on the best available evidence).
Three Zero-Risk Initiatives
There are three examples of initiatives in New York that rely on the zero-risk approach. The Climate Act has a net-zero by 2050 goal that presumes that all GHG emissions have risks and must be eliminated. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has an Environmental Justice initiative. It includes Commissioner Policy 29 (CP-29) that provides guidance for incorporating environmental justice concerns into DEC environmental permit review process and the DEC application of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). Finally, in November 2021, New York State passed an Environmental Rights Amendment to the New York constitution. It added a new section to the state constitution that reads: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and to a healthful environment. This Amendment will be the focus of this article.
I was prompted to write this article after reading Celebrating the 1-Year Anniversary of the New York Environmental Rights Amendment, written by a litigation assistant at Earth Justice. This article includes a link to a webinar: “The environmental rights amendment: by and for New Yorkers” that lays bare the planned use of the Equal Rights Amendment to further the agenda of New York activists who apparently want to see industry fail. I don’t claim that they necessarily want industry to fail but their expectation that aspirational environmental demands based on ideology are compatible with overall societal needs is naïve, such that the end result of their vision will be the shutdown of all industry including power generation.
The four webinar speakers were Anthony Rogers-Wright, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; Rebecca Bratspies, City University of New York School of Law; Maya van Rossum, Green Amendment for the Generations & Delaware Riverkeeper Network; and Michael Youhana, Earthjustice. I am comfortable saying that these folks epitomize the special interest activists described by Zaruk.
I suggest that anyone interested in this issue take the time to listen to the entire webinar. I am not going to dissect every speaker’s presentation, but I do want to highlight the comments of Professor Bratspies starting at 15:46 of the recording. She was asked how the Environmental Rights Amendment could be used to influence decision making.
Bratspies explained that environmental justice is about “fair treatment and meaningful involvement” of people in decision making that affects them. She believes that the New York regulatory program is about process and not substance. People get to participate but they “have no substantive hook” to affect the outcome. She referred to a Supreme Court decision that “prohibits uninformed rather than unwise decision making.” She said that the Environmental Rights Amendment changes that because it puts fair treatment of how environmental burdens and benefits are distributed on the table: “Now it is not just about process, it is about substance.” She then stated that now there is a substantive right to a clean environment, not just a right to participate in the process.
She went to explain that the Amendment creates new possibilities for challenging “unequal” decisions. As an example, she thinks this can be used when permitting decisions are made. The following is a lightly edited version of her end game explanation starting at 17:55 of the webinar recording:
“All the polluting infrastructure in New York City requires permits from the government in order to operate. Those permits specify levels of pollution that facility is allowed to emit. Those levels of pollution are set based on a pretty complicated formulas about national standards. But now the people who live nearby who have been so long viewed as in energy sacrifice zones can go in and say that I have the right to breathe clean air. You can’t let this facility emit so much pollution that it impacts my ability to breath clean air. My kids have the right to not have asthma. Pollution and asthma are intimately intwined.“
This interpretation of the Environmental Rights Amendment presumes that it is supposed to provide assurance of good health (e.g., no asthma) for all. Individuals in EJ communities near existing sources of air pollution believe that poor health outcomes are attributable to those sources based on environmental activist studies. They do not understand the proven NAAQS protections for the population. Activists have stoked their fears by funding projections that claim there is no threshold for health impacts and that there is a relationship between health impacts and ambient concentrations below the NAAQS standards.
At its core, this argument relies on a zero-risk approach. Bratspies espouses the view that the NAAQS are not protective of human health because pollutants are still emitted and present in the air. She believes that asthma observed in EJ neighborhoods must be caused by local facilities. The fact that there are decades of experience that support the ambient air quality standards and the methodologies used to ensure that no one is subjected to air quality over those standards are immaterial. New York City EJ activists, like all the speakers on the webinar, believe the PEAK coalition conclusion that “Fossil peaker plants in New York City are perhaps the most egregious energy-related example of what environmental injustice means today.” Unfortunately, the analysis that forms the basis of that conclusion is flawed. The health impacts claimed are for ozone and inhalable particulates that are secondary pollutants that form far downwind of the adjoining neighborhoods. Bratspies believes that air pollution and asthma are “intimately intwined” but does not acknowledge that ambient air pollution levels have gone down over the same period that asthma rates have gone up.
This approach threatens the viability of any facility that emits pollution From the get go, if clean air is defined as zero then no emissions from power plants are allowed. But where does it end? No emissions from natural gas for heating or cooking? No emissions from the cooking process itself? If you can smell something cooking, that is a volatile organic compound pollutant that is a precursor to ozone which is regulated by the Clean Air Act. The intentions of the Environmental Rights Act are good but they are also based on an incomplete understanding of the situation and science.
The other two initiatives have similar issues. New York’s Climate Act has an aggressive schedule that mandates a zero-emissions or zero-risk electric generating sector by 2040. Buried in the law is a requirement that State agencies are supposed to consider the Climate Act requirements in their actions. Late last year the DEC issued a policy document that outlines the requirements for Climate Act analyses as part of the air pollution control permit applications. As part of the zero-risk mindset even the risks of a permitted source somehow affecting Climate Act implementation must be addressed and discussed even though there are no specific promulgating regulations.
Finally, the DEC Environmental Justice initiative includes Commissioner Policy 29 (CP-29) that provides guidance for incorporating environmental justice concerns into DEC environmental permit review process. The guidance explicitly addresses the need for meaningful public participation by minority or low-income communities in the permit process; the availability or accessibility of certain information to the public early in the permit process; and the need for the permit process to address disproportionate adverse environmental impacts on minority and low-income communities. Based on the webinar this is still insufficient for the activists because it does not guarantee the right to clean air and a healthful environment.
However noble the concept of eliminating any risks from any source of pollution, if it is construed to mean that anything that might be contributing to bad health must be prohibited, then there will be massive consequences.
A zero-risk standard sets a high hurdle for permitting a new facility or keeping an existing source in operation. All applicants follow the existing permitting requirements demonstrating that their facility does not exceed the applicable air quality standards. New York’s new permitting guidance then requires public hearings and consultation with stakeholders whose goal is no risk. At the very least the permitting process is slowed down to go through more public stakeholder steps, which adds time and expenses for the source owners. When the activists say “It is not just about process, it is about substance” what they mean is we must get the answer we want and if we don’t, it is clear from the webinar that their planned response is to litigate on the grounds of the right to clean air.
Going to court always adds time and expense but could also shut down the state. The court is going to have to decide what clean air means. It is easy to see an argument that a standard must be developed but once that approach is initiated, it is hard to imagine a new standard that is more defensible than the existing NAAQS. We already have a process to evaluate permits relative to those standards so what is the point? Rationally I would hope that the court would decide in favor of the Clean Air Act but who knows. If the definition of clean air and water is zero pollution, then the State might as well shut down now because nothing meets that standard.
There is no question that past inequities in environmental burdens were wrong and should be avoided in the future. Nor is there any question that everyone deserved the right to clean air and water. The problem is that if this good intentioned solution insists on zero risk, then the reality is that it requires no emissions. If no tradeoffs are allowed then the only solution is to shut down or not build.
Thanks to Russell Schussler for comments and the title.
Zero risk is indefinable. One could claim, given a particular level of sensitivity of instruments, and a particular model of harm from a given “pollutant”, that there is no risk at that scenario. But one can always get more sensitive instruments, and given the untestable L-NT dictum, no risk is an impossible outcome.
No risk is a case of demanding the impossible.
The persons calculating health risk also always utilize a straight-line/no threshold risk chart, such that there never is zero health risk for anyone (if you even once saw a cigarette you are at some risk. Really good wine is the only exception.
The quality of at least most wine is quite subjective, as been demonstrated multiple times. Secretly exchanging the labels between quite inexpensive and fairly expensive wines, or using some other subterfuge to mislabel different wines, to make the tasters believe they are testing something they are not, pulls all the superlatives to the inexpensive wines and all the criticism to the expensive wines.
Zero risk is indefinable.
Also, zero risk of what? And what if zero risk of A causes increased risk of B? That’s not zero risk.
There is no zero risk in life.
Something will eventually kill you.
Bananas are radioactive and must be banned for public safety. It’s for your own good. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose
Eat too much rabbit and you will die of protein poisoning.
Ban bunnies. Eat vegans!
When I saw “Escape from New York” I didn’t realize it was a documentary. Is “Escape from L.A.” also a documentary? How about all the “Mad Max” movies?
“Soylent Green” took place in 2022.
They got the year wrong, and the cause of the ecological collapse was actually Net Zero, not capitalism.
What are you talking about? I saw “Soylent Green” in like1972!!
I believe JamesB meant that it was set in 2022.
One solution is to move the remaining stock markets and financial centers out of NY in order to assist in mandated reduction to zero risk. Just do it!
Carbon is everywhere. It’s as bad or worse than dihydrogen monoxide.
I tried some of that dihydrogen monoxide once.
The only way I found it palatable was to add 2 fingers of Bushmills Black to just a small dribble of dihydrogen monoxide.
I’ve had Bushmills Black minus the DHMO.
I’ve wanted to try Bushmills Red.
(Maybe it’s not the Red. It’s the one you can only buy at Bushmills itself.)
Red is the cheap one. I think the one you are talking about is the Blue.
You’re probably right.
My Dad had visited Ireland every other year. Eventually took all my brothers and sisters to visit Ireland except me. (He died before it was my turn.)
One trip they visited Bushmills Distillery and brought back a bottle of Black Bush.
Dad regretted not getting a bottle of the one that was only sold on site.
All of your body parts that is solid is carbon from CO2. You breath in 0,04% CO2 and you breath out 40,000 ppm — 4% — 1 kg per day all your life (do the math yourself.) Without it you would be dead. In fact all life on the planet would be dead without it. Hardly a pollutant! haha
If you really believe that, try not breathing it out.
Power in the modern dystopia means control over what others can say or do. What they eat, how they cook, what they write. That’s modern privilege.
In medieval times (or modern times, if you’re in a fundamentalist country), power comes from joining the theocracy. In our world, it comes from intersectionality – a constant fight for “justice” by ranking perceived grievances.
The important part is that those in power set the rules and those not in power have to follow them. There’s no consistency. Rules are arbitrary and the sole determinant in a conflict is intersectional ranking.
For instance, a “transgender activist” can physically attack a policeman, who does not react (other than to seek medical treatment) and the policeman is guilty of violence and the activist is the victim.
The genius of the climate doom religion is aligning itself near the top of this intersectional grievance hierarchy.
The dispassionate nature of scientific exploration is such that in any struggle for power, the scientists are never well aligned. They weren’t in medieval times and they aren’t today.
Humor may be our best weapon, though it is a slow burn. So I guess the best thing we can do, since the courts are loaded with activists these days (witness Biden’s nominee for a federal court in Eastern Washington, who has no knowledge of even the Constitution itself), is to resist through humor. Infiltrate and undermine. Keep pointing out the Emperor has no clothes. I suggest a campaign banning the sale of baked beans in New York groceries.
‘Humor may be our best weapon, though it is a slow burn.’
Didn’t work with the Nazis or the Soviets, but fortunately that’s not who we’re up against (yet). Similarly, in a place like NY, which is dominated by the Democrat party, voting the de-facto intersectional socialists out probably won’t work either. That leaves a choice among voting with your feet, nullification or secession as the only practical means of avoiding the coming dystopia.
Thoughtful comment, but I have noticed in my long life that scientists are often in the thick of the making of this hierarchy. Many of them rank well. These would be those who have given up dispassionate truth seeking for celebrity and impact.
Calling Michael Mann and his fellow celebrities and wannabe celebrities scientists is like calling the sportswriter who sits at his desk and takes cheap snipes at all the local players a professional athlete.
I had to take a discrimination and sexual misconduct online course today. I learned that a male can use the “women’s” locker room at the recreation center just by self-identifying, no de-peckering required.
Were they trying to teach the peckered techniques for engaging in misconduct?
What strikes me as so odd about this trend is that it’s so strongly anti-woman. Suck it up, buttercup, I’m more a woman than you’ll ever be. Your needs are secondary to mine because I am more powerful and I have a higher position on the intersectional grievance ladder. So if I want to fulfill my fantasies and invade your privacy, your feelings are nothing.
You don’t hear much about the poor girls who are brainwashed (by men, undoubtedly) that they are so woefully inadequate as women that they need to hide behind binding clothing and feel ashamed of who they are.
I raise a glass to J.K. Rowling. Using much kinder words than mine, she stands up for herself and for women. I look forward to hearing her recent interview about the controversy.
“I had to take a discrimination and sexual misconduct online course today”
Was the teacher a woman?
Did you pinch her butt when you walked by?
What is a woman?
It has gotten so ridiculous. Government / activist overreach amounts to to a slow silent eminent domain taking of property, business livelihood and economic standard of living. Without due process or compensation .
We are constantly dealing with this in my industry (wood stoves, gas stoves, pellet stoves ,fire places.) And my personal property and my neighbors- we cannot get a dredging permit for a manmade canal existing since 1963, because of “enhanced”insane unreasonable federal wetlands protection agency overreach. With out the dredging our “waterfront “ property’s will not be water front much longer. So destroy my business then then destroy my land. These activist agency’s are just a bunch communist thieves.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
I said this under a post about gas stoves.
“Hmmm … didn’t some California cities ban running gas lines to new construction long before these “studies” came out?
Why? These “studies” look like an attempt (and a lame one) to justify what they are already trying to do.
Here’s a thought. Why not measure indoor ozone levels in all electric homes?
Every time an electric device is switched on or off a tiny bit of ozone is formed.
Let’s ban electricity!! /sarc”
What a perfect idea! Float the idea in California immediately! Let them more rapidly collide with cold, hard reality.
Hoist by their own petard!
Unfortunately I believe at this point nothing less than a constitutional convention to strengthen the intent of the original document ie limited government ,limited federal power , a balanced budget, basically a smack down of all things progressive liberal anti freedom liberty sucking US Democrat party Biden BS once and for all.
They ignore the Constitution already, why would they follow the results of a Convention?
Roger, you clearly know way more about this business than me. These people are liars and cheats. I get so frustrated with our side meekly accepting their terminology, their definitions, their terms and on and on. Take the precautionary principle which basically demands zero thresholds. It shouldn’t even be on the table, it is nonsense and provably wrong. These mongrels demand people have a right to clean air (emission free). Everyone just seems to accept this argument. Don’t these same people have a right to heat their homes in times of cold and cool their homes in the sweltering heat of summer? Don’t they also have a right to affordable power to cook their food, light the night, clean their homes, wash their belongings and on and on. Of course the answer is yes. The point is that even if we took away every modern convenience we would still need a fire, transportation to get food and water, the ability to build shelter and so on. The modern conveniences we depend on today are far cleaner and healthier than what we depended on in the past. These jackasses are pretending like that isn’t so. They don’t deserve a spot at the table if for no other reason than just for being stupid.
It is beyond frustrating dealing with these people who don’t want to hear anything that does not fit their narrative. Combine that with a state administration that does not dare raise substantive issues and the result is not going to end well.
Developing a pampered, entitled, well educated but enormously ignorant, class of persons who make the world worse, not better, is the cost of societal success and affluence.
This whole mess may be thought of as beginning with K. Z. Morgan, a “health physicist”, an industrial technician responsible for ensuring workers do not exceed permissible radiation doses. Many decades ago Morgan was convinced that a single gamma ray can cause cancer, ignoring the hundreds or thousands of gamma rays as well as beta rays and alpha rays one encounters unknowingly from highly variable natural sources such as dirt, rock, air and outer space each day. Morgan’s single gamma = cancer paradigm created many decades ago was amplified by a died in the wool anti-nuc Australian physician, Helen Caldicott, despite readily available studies to the contrary. It was then picked up by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission leading to regulations over the years that have effectively priced nuclear energy out of the electricity-making business.
A similar paradigm has been adopted by the climate-will-kill-us advocates, that the only proper CO2 emission is zero. This despite mountains of factual information regarding nearly all pertinent features of our climate which are to the contrary. Such information is readily available to everyone on the web from many authoritative sources. The “deniers” in this sad situation are not people like Anthony or Tony Heller, they are people like Mann, Gore, Kerry and Biden who simply refuse to see the evidence before their very eyes. And boy are we paying for their denial.
Here is the problem. Decades ago we did NOT have clean air and water. So state and Fed EPAs got created to fix the problems. And they did. But now you have large bureaucracies with no real problems left to solve. Rather than just kill the no longer needed bureaucracies, they invent permanently unsolvable problems to perpetuate themselves. Linear no threshold risk is but one EPA absurd example.
Analytical chemistry has also, unwittingly, contributed. Every time time the limit of detection of something is pushed down tenfold, then the problem becomes tenfold worse in the dictum of those who wish to complain about it.
Very good point and very true.
I listened to the entire webinar, “The environmental rights amendment: by and for New Yorkers.”
For those of us who are deep into energy policy issues, listening to that webinar is a sobering experience. The participants are giddy at the wealth of possibilities the Environmental Rights Amendment offers for meddling in the regulatory decision making processes of state and local agencies in New York State. And also for meddling in the affairs of private businesses and even private individuals whose business activity or even personal activity involves an environmental consequence of one kind or another.
Much of the discussion in the webinar concerns how the courts will interpret the amendment. In general, the courts have traditionally been reluctant to decide questions of science. For example, to decide what the health effects of a regulated pollutant actually are, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
In the past, that job has been left to the regulatory agencies and their technical and scientific staffs. As long as those agencies followed their own internal procedures and processes, and as long as an opportunity public input was properly granted, then the courts generally left the permitting decisions in the hands of the regulatory agencies.
It is noted by several webinar participants that under the amendment, the ‘qualitative’ facets of an alleged environmental pollution problem are intended to be just as important as are the quantitative facets of that alleged problem. This opens the door to legal arguments which ignore scientific data and analysis and which depend instead upon the perceptions of the alleged victims that their right to a clean environment has been, or will be, violated.
The webinar participants also acknowledge that the amendment can be used as a justification for making ‘bad’ decisions. One prominent example of such a ‘bad decision’ would be for a regulatory agency to deny a permit for a wind farm or a solar farm; or for a court to reverse a permitting decision for a wind farm or a solar farm as a consequence of a lawsuit filed by locally affected residents concerned about the environmental impacts of wind and solar energy facilities. Using the amendment for such a purpose would constitute an abuse of the rights that it grants.
What happens next in New York State? I think that the increased threat of lawsuits against state and local permitting agencies will cause those agencies to avoid the certainty of lengthy and expensive court action simply by caving in to the demands of the environmental activists not to issue permits for proposed industrial facilities, and not to renew permits for existing industrial or energy-producing facilities if these facilities produce any kind of emissions whatsoever, regardless of how quantitatively small those emissions might be.
I think you summarized this perfectly. Unfortunately I also have to agree with your conclusion that this is going to lead to the agencies caving in.
This is interesting: https://grist.org/regulation/new-york-environmental-rights-green-amendment-first-court-test/
I did not have time to address this first court test. The judge in this case decided that the Dept. of Environmental Conservation has to deal with the litigation.
Appreciate your comment. Thanks
Entrepreneurs and investors will go elsewhere. New York’s decline will have a long tail but seems to have begun.
I run a small church. Members of the church are guaranteed eternal salvation. Non members are not. Membership requires a donation. There are no other obligations. I’ll be expecting a check soon from those who believe the precautionary principle is a valid idea.
Why do you bother? Surely there are more productive uses for your time?
I hate capitalisme -> Capitalisme -> Global warming -> We have to get rid of capitalisme -> because I say so…
Global warming -> More CO2 -> Warmer climate -> More plant growth -> More Capitalisme -> We need to get rid of capitalisme -> because I say so…
More Co2 -> More food -> We need to get rid of capitalisme -> because I say so -> Because I hate capitalisme…
Let’s get rid of the energy industry for a starter -> Then let’s get rid of farming -> Then let’s get rid of the steel industry -> Yeah!:) finally we are back to the stone age!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
> Because I hate capitalisme!
(Final thought: Since I am a freethinker and I am shadowbanned mostly everywhere, then it would be nice if you kick in a like if you agree a little bit, and you get the sarcasm)…
I can’t help realising that the activists quoted herein are the modern eqivalents of earlier religious fanatics, where nothing less than perfection could be tolerated. Isn’t it time that such fanaticism were destined for the rubbish-bin, when so much has been achieved with practicable rather then theoretical objectives?
This is the way that nuclear power has been demonized and corralled. “There is no known “safe” level of radiation exposure”, so no nuclear facilities can be allowed to exist, because they will all emit some amount of “deadly radiation”. The Precautionary Principle, and this NY State implementation of it, amount to rule by the people who can tell the scariest stories. All they have to do is assert that there is some amount of risk to something, and it will be banned unless it can be “proven safe”.
Well, I got to tell you, there is NOTHING in the world that can be “proven safe”. Nothing.
I suggest allowing the people who make these claims to relocate themselves to any of the National Wildlife Refuges that have been established, where they can establish themselves as long as they wish, as long as they don’t use anything created by evil civilization. No shoes, no clothes, no medical care, no shelter except what they can build with their own two hands. and nothing that they cannot create for themselves, naked and proud, living in a “natural world”.