In New York, If the Cats are Away the Mice will Play…

by Morgan Wieziolowski

Widener University Political Science Major

New York State needs to improve their regulation and inspection of water within the state, regardless of large staff cuts from the DEC in the past few years. Actions taken against polluters of NY water systems has dropped twenty-five percent in the past three years. Over 850 staff members that work for the state DEC (Divisions of Air and Water Quality Management) lost their jobs and no one seems to be covering the positions of those workers. Pollution and waste dumping is going unattended and unprotected, the state needs to change their system of management. Corporations and factories are able to self-report their waste and fuel emissions with no one to question or check whether the reports are accurate. Large facilities are refusing to follow their permits and regulations because they “don’t have to.” It is a little disheartening to think that a corporation in the United States is allowed practically free reign in their chemical/waste/disposals and emissions. Obviously the staff members for the DEC are not doing their jobs, or are unable to do the jobs of those who were laid off.

Governor Cuomo should address this issue directly by either proposing to shift some funding to the DEC, to rehire the people needed or hiring new staff that will accomplish the inspections and regulations necessary. He should crack down on corporations caught not following permits, by creating legislation with harsher consequences for the corporations, beyond the scope of fines. Sometimes it makes more sense financially for a Corporation to pollute the air/water, (breaking state/federal permits) rather than paying a fine. The state should come up with consequences that will actually incentivize the corporation to follow the laws. It could also start at a City Council meeting or a County level. Especially because the water pollution is more significant in certain areas of the state than others. For example a law could say, that any corporation in the state that has been proven to break the NYS or Federal environmental protection laws more than three times in a twenty year period, is no longer permitted to run business in the state of New York. Such a law would force companies and businesses to follow the regulations because they would want to maintain the business in the state, which is much more of an incentive, or consequence. However if there is no one regulating or inspecting that these Corporations are following the laws then there is not really a point in having a new piece of consequential legislation in the first place.



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