STAFF CONTACT :
The Business Council opposes this bill that would require detailed “record of compliance” data to be submitted with every environmental permit application filed with the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Our reason for opposition is straightforward. The Department of Environmental Conservation has had an effective, workable “record of compliance” policy in place for more than a decade, and we have seen nothing to suggest that this current approach is inadequate. Further, not only would A.5967 replace the DEC's current approach, it would also add significantly to the paperwork involved in permit applications while producing no appreciable environmental benefits.
As background, the DEC has had a record of compliance policy in place since 1992. It requires applicants to submit detailed compliance history information, but only in instances where the DEC believes that such additional information will be necessary to evaluate an applicant's fitness to be engaged in a regulated activity. Such information covers the applicant's compliance history, and if the applicant is a corporation, it can include information on corporate directors, officers and principal shareholders. The state's current policy also covers compliance histories under environmental laws in other states.
The Department's current record of compliance policy has proven effective, while avoiding placing undue administrative costs on the regulated community, for the better part of the last decade.
Ironically, the DEC's initial policy approach was very similar to that proposed in A.5967 in that it required compliance data to be submitted as part of every application regardless of how many permit applications and renewals an entity filed each year. It also set no time limit for this retrospective reporting, and failed to recognize that, in many cases, due to the Department prior regulatory experience with an applicant, a record of compliance submission would not provide useful additional information. After considerable input from the regulated community, the previous administration substantially modified its record of compliance policy to focus on applicants with poor or unknown compliance histories.
In summary, The Business Council believes that the DEC's current record of compliance policy provides the Department with sufficient authority to obtain additional background information from permit applicants. We oppose A.5967 because its statutory mandate would be inflexible, more costly to comply with, and unnecessary to assure environmental protection.