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Report: Air, Water and Hazmat Pollution Enforcement Drops in NY

Photo: Water pollution entering Hudson Valley estuary in the Capital region. Photo credit: John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper.
Photo: Water pollution entering Hudson Valley estuary in the Capital region. Photo credit: John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper.
September 13, 2013

NEW YORK – A new report says staff cuts at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are resulting in a lot less oversight of air, water and hazardous-materials pollution across the state.

It's the DEC that regulates pollution, and Andrew Postiglione with Environmental Advocates of New York says his group’s report looks at 22 percent staff cuts at the DEC over recent years to determine the impact those cuts are having on New York's ability to protect itself.

"And what we found was that inspections were down by 35 percent across all permit categories,” he says. “Violations were down by 25 percent. What this says to us is that DEC is looking less and finding less."

Postiglione says his group is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rethink his Open for Business Policy and to restore many of the 850 positions that have been cut at the DEC since 2008.

Postiglione adds New York already is behind the curve when it comes to wastewater pollution because as far back as 2008, the DEC identified $38 billion in improvements that still need to be made to protect New York's water supply.

"A lot of our wastewater infrastructure is past its useful life right now,” he explains. “And as these break down we're going to have more and more pollution events. It's more and more important that we have DEC officers out looking for these things."

Postiglione says the report also found that informal enforcement actions dropped by 24 percent over the past four years.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY