- Comptroller Documents Dangers of DEC Staffing Cuts on Enforcing Laws

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2014

Travis Proulx: 518-462-5526 x238, tproulx@eany.org

Comptroller Documents Dangers of DEC Staffing Cuts on Enforcing Laws

Statement from Executive Director Peter Iwanowicz

“Dramatic cuts over the last decade to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have significantly hindered the state’s ability to properly regulate polluters and enforce the environmental laws. DEC staff do exceptional work to protect the environmental and improve our health, but their work load has increased and they are under increasingly challenging circumstances.  

Today, DEC staff lack the capacity to enforce many laws. A September, 2013 Environmental Advocates report found that the DEC has been forced to reduce across-the-board inspections 35%, slash water pollution inspections by 74%, and even cut stack testing for climate pollution 44%. The dangers of understaffing grow with each passing day, whether it be not enforcing state laws, or the poor vetting and review of proposals like Governor Cuomo’s debacle of a plan to raid clean water funds to build a bridge.

Anyone who believes the DEC is properly equipped to protect New Yorkers from fracking or the transshipment of crude oil through our state lacks a basic understanding of government and what is actually needed to enforce our laws and keep communities safe.

In recent years, Governor Cuomo has not cut staff levels, but he has failed to acknowledge the growing demands placed on staff – particularly from climate change – and the need for adequate staffing resources in his executive budget. A functioning government does not and cannot mean ignoring state laws that serve to protect the public.

Environmental Advocates of New York is grateful for the report issued by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. We’re ready to partner with Governor Cuomo and state legislators to ensure the DEC is adequately resourced in this state. With a windfall approaching $5 billion, there is no excuse to ignore the real world harms of underfunding our state’s environmental agency.”