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September 11, 2003

Council renews opposition to Superfund bill

The Business Council has again urged lawmakers to reject a Superfund refinancing/brownfield reform bill, arguing that its new fees on business are too onerous and that it would do to little to encourage brownfield redevelopment.

In the final hours of the legislative session last June, there were reports that the legislative leaders and Governor Pataki had reached a three-way agreement on the bill (S.5702-Marcelinno/A.9102-DiNapoli). The Assembly passed the bill. The Senate was expected to return to Albany this week to vote on it, and its approval was expected.

The bill would refinance the state Superfund program, establish a statutory program for voluntary cleanups of brownfield sites, and make numerous other changes to the state's environmental cleanup programs.

"This legislation will fail to make brownfield sites sufficiently competitive with greenfield alternatives, and therefore will fail to promote significant private sector brownfield redevelopment in New York State," The Council said in a legislative memo sent to lawmakers Sept. 5.

"Further, its fee structure will have adverse impacts on the state's manufacturing sector, and unintended adverse impacts on brownfield and other cleanup projects," the memo added.

The bill offers no significant improvement over the current voluntary cleanup program, said Ken Pokalsky, director of environmental and economic development programs. For example:

The bill does provide for enhanced investment incentives, but they "are insufficient to offset the lack of certainty and the increased costs and delays."

The Council also opposes the significant new hazardous waste surcharges, which would range from$4,000 to $360,000 per year. These will hurt manufacturers and increase the costs of brownfield cleanups, Pokalsky said.

Many small and mid-sized manufacturers will see fees go up 10 to 20 times, he noted.

"We recognize the pressing need to refinance the state Superfund program, and the desire to settle years of legislative stalemate on the issue of brownfield cleanups," the memo concluded "However, even though we support the general intent of this legislation, the bill contains too many shortcomings to be seen as a reasonable, effective compromise."