The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has released a proposed Environmental Incentive Policy, which is aimed at improving practices at businesses, local governments and other regulated entities to better protect the environment and prevent pollution. A public comment period on the draft policy extends through April 22.
"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," Commissioner Joe 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. Specifically, the policy will waive penalties for violations discovered and disclosed voluntarily, or discovered during pollution prevention or compliance assistance in partnership with other state agencies.
The policy also offers additional incentives to entities adding 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 entering 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.
Entities with a history of non-compliance are ineligible. Certain 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," Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York Rob Moore said.
"The Environmental Incentive Policy announced today, recognizes the private sector's persistent adoption of environmental stewardship as means to reduce costs, gain efficiency, and move beyond compliance," president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State Heather Briccetti said. "The Business Council praises the work of Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Martens and the Department of Environmental Conservation staff, for their commitment to bring this policy to maturity."
"I applaud Commissioner Martens and his staff for advancing this important environmental policy," Senior Vice President of D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C., Richard Walka said. "The policy provides the regulated community with an avenue to actually go 'beyond compliance' by advancing Pollution Prevention and Environmental Management System initiatives. A job well done."
The policy was developed with input from stakeholders representing environmental and environmental justice organizations, the business community, local government, farmers, academia and other state agencies.
Comments on the proposed policy can be submitted through April 22 by email to OGCWeb@gw.dec.state.ny.us or mailing them to Monica Kreshik, NYS DEC Office of General Counsel, 625 Broadway, Albany, N.Y. 12233-1500.
The draft policy can be viewed at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/2374.html#60.