Thursday, December 16, 2021

A blown deadline

Billy Jones salt bill

By the Times Union editorial board

Nonexistent task forces have a 100 percent track record of not issuing reports by deadline. So in that sense, the state’s road salt panel is doing exactly what New Yorkers expected of it.

Under the 2020 legislation establishing it, the task force was supposed to study the impact of road salt in the Adirondacks and come up with a pilot plan for reducing it, reporting to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2021 – as in, weeks ago.

What’s at stake here? Oh, only public health, the environment, and the Adirondack economy. Excess road salt poisons the wells that North Country residents drink from. It degrades farmland, fouls lakes, desiccates trees.

Yes, things have been a bit … chaotic in the Executive Chamber this year. But in the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, long appointment delays and other forms of foot-dragging were a feature, not a bug. Skeptics might speculate that for Mr. Cuomo, the announcement of a plan of action was more important than its implementation.

All of the panel’s members have now been recommended, state officials say, and appointments are in the process of being finalized. We know Gov. Kathy Hochul is catching up on a backlog on empty positions. Prioritizing this process will be a significant way her administration can differentiate itself from its predecessor. State government needs to get moving on this important issue, collecting data transparently and thoroughly, and – at the most basic level – doing what it said it was going to do.

Editor’s note: This originally ran Dec. 13 in the (Albany) Times Union. Used by permission.

Photo: NYS Assemblyman Billy Jones speaks Dec. 4, 2020, at a commemoration of the signing of the Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act. More than 10 months later, the task force created by the bill is still without members. Mike Lynch photo

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]




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