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Legislative Memo

BILL:

A.94 (Lentol)

Support

SUBJECT:

DEC Consent Orders

 

DATE:

May 3, 2004

 

The Business Council opposes this legislation which, among other things, would required the Department of Environmental Conservation to hold public hearings on draft consent orders for “major” violations of the state Environmental Conservation Law.

The Business Council believes this legislation would limit the utility of the consent order process to the DEC, and present disincentives for regulated parties to enter into consent order negotiations, while providing no substantive benefits to the public at large.

Requiring public notice of, and comment on, draft consent orders would delay the DEC's civil violation settlement process , and delay efforts to bring noncomplying entities back into compliance with the state's environmental protection requirements. More importantly, by adding additional parties to the consent order process, this legislation would make the consent order process a quasi-adjudicatory procedure, thereby reducing the attractiveness of this settlement approach to the regulated community.

The DEC has long-standing policies and procedures for entering into consent orders, which have proven to be both an effective and efficient approach to resolving alleged violations of the ECL. The focus of the DEC's settlement policies are: returning a facility to compliance as quickly as possible; eliminating any economic benefit related to non-compliance; and assuring the imposition of a civil penalty that is commensurate with the nature and gravity of the violation. By avoiding time-consuming and resource-intensive administrative hearings, the settlement of alleged violations through consent orders is of benefit to the regulated party, the DEC and the public at large.

In summary, The Business Council believes that this proposed legislation would impose unnecessary – and possibly counterproductive – requirements into the development of consent orders addressing alleged environmental violations. The Business Council believes that current Departmental practices and legal obligations assure that environmental and public health safety is adequately protected under the current consent order process. For these reasons,
For these reasons, The Business Council respectfully opposes enactment of A.94.