From the Gotham Gazette:
Industries that use pesticides, treat wastewater and store hazardous chemicals could have penalties for breaking pollution laws reduced or waived if they agree to self-report violations under a policy being considered by New York’s leading environmental regulator.
Any entity that enters into an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to self-audit would also “not be prioritized for inspection during the audit period,” stated a draft of the proposed policy obtained by the Gotham Gazette.
The proposed policy was expected to be discussed at the DEC's regional directors meeting earlier today.
The DEC regulates sources of air and water pollution, including private industry, agricultural uses, and municipal facilities like waste transfer stations and sewage treatment plants. It is responsible for enforcing over 40 New York State environmental laws and over 50 federal laws, including provisions of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. The agency would also be charged with regulating hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.
The self-audit policy, described in a draft document dated May 14, would apply to any private business or public entity, including federal, state and municipal agencies and facilities, which are regulated under state environmental law.
A self-audit, however, “is not required for disclosure and may not be warranted in certain circumstances,” the document states. Environmental violations involving suspected criminal conduct would not be eligible for a penalty waiver.
Further, the DEC would conduct an inspection if it receives “a complaint concerning the regulated entity or have reason to believe that a violation has occurred resulting in serious actual harm.”
DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Marc Gerstman said the goal of the proposed policy was to promote compliance with environmental laws.