- Cuomo, State Legislators Urged to Step up Efforts to Reform Toxic Site Cleanup Program

For Immediate Release: June 10, 2014Travis Proulx (Environmental Advocates): 518-462-5526 x238Jody Kass (New Partners): jodykass@npcr.netDan Hendrick (NYLCV): 917-207-8715Laura Haight (NYPIRG): 518-436-0876 x258

Cuomo, State Legislators Urged to Step up Efforts to

Reform Toxic Site Cleanup Program

Inaction on Costly and Off-Target Brownfields Program Disadvantaging Communities

Albany – Governor Cuomo started 2014 with Brownfield Cleanup Program reform near the top of his environmental and economic development agenda. With the Legislature preparing to adjourn this year’s legislative session next week, advocates are urging the Governor, Assembly and Senate leaders to come together to enact common-sense reforms that will benefit our communities. The Senate and Assembly have introduced reform legislation, but there is still no bill from – or three-way talks led by – the Governor.

The current program’s instability – coupled with a lack of long-term resources for the state Superfund and other critical programs like the Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) and Environmental Remediation Program that clean up toxic sites – leaves projects in limbo, adds dangerous blight to communities, and undermines the state’s economic development efforts.

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “The brownfields program, which expires next year, is broken and needs to be fixed. The state’s current economic development agenda is dragged down by this costly and off-target program, and there are thousands of sites that need to be cleaned up. Governor Cuomo made a commitment when he laid out his 2014 agenda, and both houses have brought proposals to the table. Common sense reforms can and should become law this year.”

Jody Kass, executive director of New Partners for Community Revitalization said, “Since 2003 New York has been a national leader with pioneering brownfield programs to address the state's toxic legacy from our industrial past. But that will all be lost if Albany's inaction allows these programs to lapse. Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders need to fully fund BOA, extend and target the brownfield tax credits, re-authorize long term financing of Superfund, and open up the Environmental Restoration Program. Inaction jeopardizes not only our national leadership on these issues but also New Yorkers' health and the environment.”  

Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters said, “Governor Cuomo and the Legislature must renew and reform the Brownfield Cleanup Program as soon as possible. Because of the lack of clarity and funding, very few new projects will enter the program -- stalling the renaissance that so many communities desperately need. The Brownfield Cleanup Program is one of NYLCV's top priorities for the year and we strongly encourage our state leaders to renew this program in the current session.”

Laura Haight, senior environmental associate of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) said, “All of the state's major programs for cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated sites are in peril. Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers need to address this problem this year, so toxic waste cleanups across the state don’t grind to a halt.”