Steven Englebright spent 30 years within the State Meeting advocating for environmental causes and was one of many earliest champions of preserving the Pine Barrens. However he counts his final three years in workplace among the many most impactful.
Englebright, a geologist and educator by commerce, mentioned the productive endcap of his tenure started with the passage of the Local weather Management and Neighborhood Safety Act in 2019, which seeks to finish New York’s reliance on fossil fuels. The laws units a purpose of producing 70% of the state’s vitality by renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2040. The regulation is especially necessary as a result of New York units the instance for different states, he mentioned.
“The overarching problem of our time is to set a regular for our sister states and different nations, for grappling with the emissions from combustion from the burning of fossil fuels,” Englebright, 76, mentioned throughout a latest interview at his Setauket workplace. “And to maneuver away from that as our main vitality supply and to actually clear up our act earlier than we reached a tipping level from which there isn’t a return.”
Englebright, a Democrat who served northeastern Brookhaven City, together with Stony Brook, Setauket and Port Jefferson, within the Meeting since 1992, misplaced to first-time Republican challenger Ed Flood by about 700 votes within the November election.
1983-1992 Served within the Suffolk County Legislature
1992 Elected to the state Meeting
1993 Advocates for Lengthy Island Pine Barrens Safety Act
2015 Grow to be chair of the Meeting Environmental Conservation Committee
2019 Sponsors the Local weather Management and Neighborhood Safety Act which is signed into regulation
2021 Voters approve the “Inexperienced Modification,” which he sponsored
2022 Leads the push for the $4.2 billion Clear Water, Clear Air and Inexperienced Jobs Environmental Bond Act
Flood, an assistant Brookhaven City legal professional, benefited from Lengthy Island’s purple wave and having Lee Zeldin of Shirley on the high of the gubernatorial ticket, mentioned Jesse Garcia, chairman of the Suffolk County Republican Celebration. Garcia mentioned that to voters it appeared that Englebright was solely targeted on the setting throughout the marketing campaign and never on crime or inflation.
“The primary order of enterprise is defending and offering public security to your citizenry to your residents,” Garcia mentioned. “And that is the place Steve Englebright failed.”
Englebright countered that he additionally advocated to safe funding for repaving the Lengthy Island Expressway and for colleges. He additionally famous he was one of many earliest proponents of revising the state’s bail reform regulation.
Environmental committee chair
Englebright, who has served as chair of the Meeting Environmental Conservation Committee since 2015, mentioned he has misplaced depend of his legislative victories.
Two years after the local weather invoice, Englebright sponsored the so-called inexperienced modification to the state structure, which enshrined the precise to a clear setting for New Yorkers. It was accepted by voters in 2021.
The next yr he pushed for the $4.2 billion Clear Water, Clear Air and Inexperienced Jobs Environmental Bond Act to fund climate-related tasks. It handed in November with 67.62% voter approval.
Lengthy earlier than that he protested the opening of the Shoreham Nuclear Energy Plant. Whereas serving within the Suffolk County Legislature he advocated for voter adoption of the Ingesting Water Safety Program, which makes use of a quarter-percent gross sales tax to fund open house preservation and extra.
In 1993, early in his tenure within the state, he was instrumental within the passage of the Lengthy Island Pine Barrens Defend Act, which regulated growth within the 100,000-acre Central Pine Barrens Area.
“He was speaking about it [the Pine Barrens] within the early Eighties, lengthy earlier than some other public official,” mentioned Peter Scully, a former regional director of the state Division of Environmental Conservation and a deputy Suffolk County government. “The final word passage of the Pine Barrens Safety Act is one thing that’s a part of his legacy that will likely be acknowledged for generations, as a result of it can assist to verify we’ve ample provide pure consuming water for the long run.”
Longtime colleague Assemb. Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor) was Southampton city supervisor when the regulation handed. Thiele, who with Englebright performed weekly basketball video games on the State Police Academy in Albany throughout their tenure, mentioned Englebright was ready to translate the technical reasoning for preserving the area into legislative phrases.
A background in science
“He had the scientific background that we would have liked to justify why the Pine Barrens Act was necessary.” Thiele mentioned. “He put the science in political science.”
Adrienne Esposito, government director of the Farmingdale-based Residents Marketing campaign for the Surroundings, mentioned nobody has left a better legacy of land safety on Lengthy Island.
“Once we would go to him with safety and restoration concepts, he instantly will get it,” she mentioned, “Different legislators many occasions should be satisfied, cajoled. However he turned a associate as an alternative of a blockade.”
A respect for the setting was instilled by his grandfather, a vegetable farmer in Evansville, Indiana, and thru his participation within the Boy Scouts, he mentioned.
His instructional background is within the pure sciences, however he’s additionally dedicated to preserving historic websites, which in his district embody a plaque put in this fall and funded partially with state cash on the Patriots Rock website in Setauket. He can communicate at size concerning the Setauket connection to the Culper Spy Ring simply as simply because the Island’s geohydrology.
“He seems to be low-key, however there is a ardour that burns inside Steve about these points,” Thiele mentioned.
Englebright, who lives in Setauket together with his spouse Sue Meyers, a Setauket hearth commissioner, mentioned he’ll proceed to foyer on environmental points, together with laws requiring producers to take duty for recycling their merchandise, in addition to historic preservation. He didn’t rule out one other run for public workplace.
“I could also be leaving this workplace, however I am definitely going to proceed to be concerned,” he mentioned. “I will proceed to be a voice for advocating for preservation and safety of the important sources that outline who we’re.”