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Aril 2002

Council opposes Assembly Superfund plan, citing its fees, lack of critical reforms

A new Assembly plan to refinance the state's environmental Superfund program would substantially increase business fees without enacting any of the Superfund or brownfield-redevelopment reforms needed to balance environmental and economic needs, The Council's environmental specialist said. The Council strongly opposes the proposal.

"The higher fees proposed would overwhelmingly affect upstate manufacturers," said Ken Pokalsky, director of environmental and regulatory affairs. "That seems unwise when New York's existing Superfund fees already exceed the maximum possible in most states, and many policymakers, including the Assembly, are concerned about how we can reinvigorate the upstate economy."

The Assembly bill: The Assembly's Superfund bill would:

Superfund fees in New York: The Business Council recently sent information to the Assembly documenting how high New York's environmental fees already are in relation to other states'. The March 26 letter cited "An Analysis of State Superfund Programs" Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Law Institute (ELI).

"New York's annual cleanup expenditures far exceed that of most states, and New York's existing hazardous waste-related fees greatly exceed the Superfund-related business fees imposed in virtually every other state," Pokalsky wrote in that letter. Enacting fees at the proposed level "would dramatically increase New York's outlier status on this cost-of-doing business factor."

The ELI analysis showed that only two states, New York and New Jersey, spent more than $50 million on remedial programs in 1998.

"In contrast, among the 42 states providing expenditure data, the average state spending on cleanups was $12.8 million, while the median spending level was just $2.3 million," Pokalsky wrote. "Two-thirds of all states spent $10 million or less on remediation programs."

The Council's recommendations on Superfund refinancing and reform: The Business Council believes that the permanent refinancing of state Superfund should be part of a comprehensive reform package that includes a fairer funding mechanism, reforms in cleanup standards, and liability relief for parties that clean contaminated sites.

Specifically, The Council believes that: