How the iPad Brought Democrats and Republicans Together in New York

In Albany 2.0, elected officials would use electronic devices to read and vote on bills—dramatically reducing paper usage.

new york recycling

Legislator Jim Tedisco—that's him  between the towers of paper—discusses New York's move to limit Albany's massive paper usage. (Photo: JimTedisco.com)

Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

If only every environmental issue was as easy as this one.

Legislators across New York’s political spectrum are set to rid the state of one very wasteful problem—the required printing of all pieces of legislation. In Albany’s new, green world order, elected officials would instead rely on iPads and other electronic devices to read and vote on bills.

In an average two-year legislative session, the New York legislature prints 19 million pages of text—at a cost of $325,000 for the paper and ink, reports The New York Times. (Please tell me they’re recycling that paper!)

The measure, which was agreed on in June, still needs to be approved by the voters next year.

“Mother Earth is smiling today and so are taxpayers because the New York State Legislature is about to go digital to stop the wasteful printing of bills that can easily be displayed electronically on a laptop, iPad, Kindle or some other mobile device,” said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco. “This is a victory for taxpayers and for anyone who cares about reducing our carbon footprint.”

The state would be following other state’s anti-paper lead, as more than half of America’s state legislatures have or are in the process of going paperless.

Not surprisingly, American governments—local, state, and federal—used 122 billion sheets of paper in 2011.

In case you’re wondering, that’s 400 sheets for every U.S. citizen, or 80 percent of the average ream of office paper.

E-politics aren’t fully green, however, as Climate Progress points out:

Evidence points to e-readers being much greener methods of consuming text — though production of the device can have environmental costs. Whether New York’s state legislators will save any emissions, however, depends on the devices they choose to use. Reading at a computer can still be inefficient and environmentally unfriendly, given the energy it takes to power a computer.

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