February 16, 2000
Council raises environmental
Urges fair fees, use-based cleanup, liability reform
Any Superfund refinancing and brownfield reform should emphasize appropriate cleanup standards, fair funding, and reformed liability limits for parties that clean sites, The Business Council has told legislative leaders. In a Feb. 15 letter to lawmakers on environmental proposals in the Executive Budget, Ken Pokalsky, The Council's director of environmental and regulatory programs, argued that:
- Cleanup standards should reflect the planned use of the site. The Executive Budget includes too little reform of soil and groundwater standards.
- Responsible parties that do state-approved cleanups should get relief from future liability for that contamination, with limits on how such cases are reopened. Non-responsible parties should be explicitly released from all future liability for contamination they did not cause.
- The Council opposes "extraordinary fee increases" proposed in the Executive Budget to support state-financed cleanups. Benefits of such cleanups are broad and public, so they should be paid for through broad-based general revenues, not narrowly targeted fees.
- The Council opposes new enforcement provisions and financial penalties proposed in the Executive Budget that would unfairly pressure parties negotiating with the state Department of Environmental Conservation over plans to clean hazardous wastes or oil spills.