Governor Hails Superfund Legislation
Governor George E. Pataki has hailed the State Senate’s passage of landmark legislation that will refinance and reform the State’s Superfund Program to help clean thousands of contaminated properties across New York State, such as LILCO’s brownfield in Rockaway Park. This will be done while encouraging new investment and redevelopment.
Brownfields are properties where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination based on prior uses. "This historic legislation represents a victory for all New Yorkers. I applaud the Legislature for voting to restore our Superfund Program so we can move forward to clean up hazardous waste sites and return them to productive use," Pataki said. "By taking steps to protect our environment, this legislation will generate new opportunities for economic growth, bringing new jobs into communities around the state, while protecting the health of all New Yorkers."
The legislation, which has also been passed by the Assembly, will refinance and reform the State’s Superfund Program; create a new State Brownfields Program to encourage private investment through liability reform, tax incentives, and a predictable process for cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields; improve the municipal Brownfields Program funded through the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air bond Act to encourage even more municipal participation; and implement liability reform to the State Superfund Program and Oil Spill Program.
The proposal builds upon the State’s nearly 20 years of experience in cleaning up contaminated properties by making the programs more effective. It maintains the highest cleaning up standards in the nation, retains the "polluter pays" philosophy, expands the types of sites eligible for cleanup, provides expanded liability relief, ensures consistency with federal law and provides enhanced financial incentives to municipalities and volunteers to investigate, remediate, and redevelop brownfields.
Since 1986, the State Superfund has provided $1.2 billion for cleanup of more than 800 contaminated sites across New York State. However, the State Superfund funded by the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act was fully allocated as of March 31, 2001. DEC estimates that at least an additional 800 Superfund sites are still in need of investigation or remediation.
The new legislation provides long-term funding, accelerates brownfield cleanup and redevelopment, expands sites eligible for cleanup under State Superfund Program, improves the Municipal Brownfields Program, provides brownfield area planning opportunities, expands public participation opportunities and provides protective and predictable cleanups.