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Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

The Spanish Requirement

March 17, 2015

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

Omri Ben-Shahar concludes a scathing attack on contemporary disclosure laws with a barbed reference to a 400-word pronouncement, called the "Spanish Requirement". It was a prepared statement read in Spanish by 16th Century conquistadors to New World inhabitants, which warned them, having been put on notice, to "acknowledge the Church as the rule and superior of the whole world" or else!

More Than You Wanted To Know book jacket
Image: Book Jacket

While Professor Ben-Shahar concedes, "Happily, disclosures no longer excuse slaughter and slavery", he and his co-author Carl E. Schneider in More Than You Wanted to Know: The Failure of Mandated Disclosures, set out to make the case that today's disclosure laws, often called "sunshine" laws, are, at best, a waste of time because they fail to inform, warn or change anyone's behavior. At worst, disclosure laws shield bad actors from legal liability and let timid politicians hide behind the supposed virtues of enacting sunshine laws rather than passing bills to outlaw the behaviors that disclosure laws are supposed to help us see and thus avoid or amend. These are serious indictments, and as a long-standing supporter of New York City's very own sunshine statute, the Energy Benchmarking Law, enacted in 2009, I knew I needed to read this book with care. What if it's right?

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Marcia Bystryn

How New York City Can Deliver On Its Zero Waste Goal

May 06, 2015

By: Marcia Bystryn

On Earth Day, Mayor de Blasio presented a bold vision for a New York City that sends zero waste to landfills. This ambitious goal figured prominently into the sustainability section of his OneNYC plan. I believe we can get there, but it will require a great deal of focus and innovation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the release of “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” a comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers

New York City currently sends four million tons of waste to landfills every year. Landfills are notorious emitters of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Sending waste to out-of-state landfills is expensive too — in 2012, it cost the City over $85 million. Removing organic material from landfills not only reduces methane in the atmosphere and carbon emissions from collection and long-haul carting trucks, it also presents an opportunity to harness its positive value as a potential clean energy source or compost input. The City knows this export option is not sustainable over time.

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