Government Affairs Albany UpdateMay 31, 2002
The Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed a formal guidance document regarding its voluntary cleanup program (VCP). The DEC has been running the VCP since the mid-nineties, even though New York still has no formal brownfield law. To date, more than two hundred investigation and/or cleanup projects have been approved under the VCP.
While the proposal sets forth general program guidelines to be used by applicants and DEC review staff, it does not establish legally binding obligations on program participants or the state. However, the guidelines will be used by the DEC in drafting voluntary cleanup agreements (or, at the volunteer's discretion, cleanup order), and these agreements will impose enforceable requirements on program participants.
Key provisions of the draft guidelines include:
- Most contaminated sites are eligible for the VCP. Exceptions include: most EPA National Priority List sites, all Class 1 sites on the state's superfund registry, and RCRA corrective action sites. Sites subject to DEC or EPA enforcement actions may also be considered ineligible.
- Most parties are eligible to participate. Ineligible parties include: persons responsible for discharging petroleum; responsible parties, other than "innocent owners," at Class 2 state superfund sites; and persons subject to an enforcement action for the cleanup of a site.
- The VCP's cleanup goal is to make sites protective of public health and the environment given the contemplated use of the site. The guidance lists four cleanup levels: unrestricted use, residential, commercial and industrial. However, the proposed guidance does not propose specific cleanup standards.
- All cleanup agreements will be set forth in legally enforceable contracts or orders.
- Participants receive a post-cleanup liability release that is binding on DEC only; the state reserves the right to require additional cleanup for ongoing off-site migration of petroleum, newly discovered contamination, failure to comply with the agreement or order, actual or "threatened" releases of contamination, and unauthorized changes in site use.
- All VCP projects, including investigation projects, will be subject to public notice and public participation requirements.
- Remediation plans will generally require the removal or treatment of contamination sources; responsible parties will have to do on and off-site cleanups; non-responsible parties will have to do on-site cleanups.
The guidance document can be obtained from the DEC's web site at: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/der/
The Business Council will be submitting comments to DEC during the public review period, which ends June 28, 2002. For more information, contact Ken Pokalsky.
With the $6.75/hr. minimum wage proposal already passed in the Assembly and currently sitting in the Senate Rules Committee, The Business Council is joining with several other employer groups in meeting with key Senators to provide information on how this bill would affect businesses in New York State. On Tuesday, June 4, 2002, representatives from The Business Council, NFIB, The Farm Bureau, NYS Association of Convenience Stores, the Retail Council of NYS and the Food Industry Alliance of NYS will meet with Senator Bruno and nine other members of the Senate Majority in separate meetings during the day to discuss this issue.
The Assembly Energy Committee will hold two hearings next week on Article X of the Public Service Law. The June 5th Albany hearing will be held in hearing room B of the Legislative Office Building at 12 noon. A New York City hearing will be held on June 6th at 10am in the Assembly hearing room, 250 Broadway, Room 1923, 19th floor.
Article X is the law that governs the siting of major electric
generating facilities in New York State. The law is set to
expire at the end of this year. The Business Council has
endorsed S.6230-B (Wright)/A.9826-A (Tonko) which would renew
the law for five years while addresses a few key areas that
would better define the process and speed the timetables
under Article X. The bill has drawn broad support from the
generating, energy/utility and labor communities. The bill,
which was drafted by the Independent Power Producers of New
York (IPPNY), is also supported by the Energy Association
and the New York State AFL-CIO.
Memo in support