Capital New York:
Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion on a statewide brownfield cleanup program that is woefully insufficient, according to a report issued by a leading environmental advocacy group in New York.
"The current program is out of control," Peter Iwanowicz, head of Environmental Advocates of New York, said in statement accompanying the report. "Taxpayers are footing the bill for an extraordinarily costly and broken system that is in desperate need of reform.”
The report, entitled "Ripe for Reform," says that since 2009, close to $800 million in tax breaks have gone to redevelopment at brownfield sites and not for cleanup, leaving thousands of sites in need of remediation. In releasing the report last week, the group joined Citizens Budget Commission in urging Albany to enact reforms proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Brownfields are sites of concentrated contamination that are the environmental legacy of New York's 20th century manufacturing industry. Former gas and oil refineries, chemical plants and foundries are the chief sites in need of remediation.
According to the EANY report, whole regions of the state have been ignored by New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program, while the "cleanup" aspect of the program has given way to lucrative redevelopment tax credits. The group reports that 86 percent of all payouts since 2009 have been redevelopment credits as opposed to remediation costs.