Tonawanda News — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed new policy that officials say would strengthen its ability to prevent pollution.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said Friday that the goal of the proposal, called the Environmental Incentive Policy, would incentivize businesses and governmental entities to better protect the environment.
“This policy will encourage companies to audit their operations and quickly return to compliance before an inspection is scheduled and fines are levied for violations,” Martens said. “It will also reward companies who make a long-term commitment to beyond compliance performance in order to save money and protect the environment.”
The draft policy offers a variety of incentives to businesses, local governments and other regulated entities to audit their operations and prevent future violations, according to Martens. Specifically, the policy includes waiving penalties for violations that are discovered and disclosed voluntarily, or discovered during pollution prevention or compliance assistance in partnership with other state agencies.
Martens said the policy also offers additional incentives to entities that add systematic environmental management and pollution prevention to their operations. Other incentives, including recognition and priority for technical and financial assistance from the state, are available to entities that enter into an audit agreement and make a formal, long-term commitment to environmental management and pollution prevention by entering into DEC’s New York Environmental Leaders program.
Groups with a history of non-compliance are ineligible and some violations are also excluded from the policy, including recurring violations and those involving criminal activity or actual harm to human health or the environment.
“The Department of Environmental Conservation has worked with a broad segment of stakeholders to create a program that can complement existing regulatory programs and help businesses and municipalities make a stronger commitment to pollution prevention,” said Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York.
The policy was developed with input from stakeholders representing environmental and environmental justice organizations, the business community, local government, farmers, academia and state agencies.
Comments on the proposed policy can be submitted through April 22 or by mail to: Monica Kreshik, NYS DEC – Office of General Counsel, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-1500 or by e-mailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.