Environment Committee Update
June 27, 2012
Contact: Darren Suarez
A number of bills were under some consideration this year by either or both houses of the legislature. The Business Council interjected in the discussion regarding many of these proposals. The legislature proposed and contemplated numerous bills that would regulate or prohibit products that contained specific chemicals and numerous attempts to prohibit or regulate natural gas drilling.
- Invasive Species Act.
A.9422-A (Sweeney) / S.6826-A (Little)
Requires the department of environmental conservation, in cooperation with the department of agriculture and markets, to take action with respect to nonnative animal and plant species.
- Sewage Right to Know.
A.10585-A (Sweeney) / S.6268-D (Grisanti)
Enacts the "sewage pollution right to know act;" requires publicly owned treatment works to report discharges of untreated or partially treated sewage.
- Unredeemed Deposits.
A.10519 (Sweeney) / S.7525 (Grisanti)
Requires that unredeemed container deposits shall be credited to the environmental protection fund.
- $10 million of the revenue in FY 2013-14.
- $20 million of revenue in FY 2014-15.
- $30 million of the revenue in FY 2015-16.
- $40 million of the revenue in FY 2016-17.
- $50 million of the revenue in FY 2017-18.
- $60 million of the revenue in FY 2018-19, and every year thereafter.
- Brownfield Tax Credit Extender.
A.10593 (Sweeney) / S.7788 (Rules)
Extends brownfield redevelopment tax credits, remediated brownfield credit for real property taxes for qualified sites and environmental remediation insurance credits until December 31, 2015. In 2003, the Legislature authorized tax credits as part of the Brownfield Cleanup Program. The authority for those credits is set to expire on March 31, 2015. This legislation will delay the sunset of those tax credits until December 31, 2015.
- Greenhouse Gas.
Relates to global warming pollution control; establishes greenhouse gas limits and a greenhouse gas reporting system.
- Record of Compliance.
Requires detailed “record of compliance” data to be submitted with every environmental permit application filed with the Department of Environmental Conservation.
SEQRA reform. Land use and project review requirements were identified as a significant barrier to new investment in the Regional Council planning process. The Business Council is developing legislation to address procedural concerns regarding the State Environmental Quality Review Act that would provide more certainty as the timetable and technical requirements of environmental reviews and environmental permitting.
In May the Gotham Gazette ran a story about the DEC proposed Self Audit program http://bit.ly/Lza9zH. The article contains a leaked internal draft of the proposed program. The DEC official is quoted as saying that the agency had “held stakeholder meetings with environmental groups, municipalities and businesses to get their input on developing a self-audit policy.” More meetings were planned, they said.
The proposed policy enables companies and other entities to enter into self-audit “agreements” with the DEC. These agreements can be comprehensive, covering all environmental laws and regulations applicable to a facility, or limited to a portion of those requirements. Companies and other regulated entities that commit through a self-audit agreement to minimize their impact using “environmental management practices and pollution prevention systems” would be offered a variety of incentives.
The incentives are still being developed but they could include public recognition of the company’s efforts and access to technical assistance services, according to the draft document. Perhaps more importantly, they could include additional assistance with penalties and timeframes for correcting violations.
The Business Council would be interested in obtaining our members opinions regarding the self audit.