Facility inspections by the state’s environmental regulators have declined by 35 percent from 2009 to 2012, according to a new report from an Albany-based advocacy group.
The Environmental Advocates of New York study shows the Department of Environmental Conservation’s enforcement has declined over the same time period, with violations dropping by 25 percent. There were 840 fewer facilities inspected in 2012 than in 2009.
The group contends the drop in inspections and violations is due to a steep decline in DEC staffing over the years, particularly in the agency’s air and water quality department, which has lost 235 positions since the 2007-08 state fiscal year.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo often speaks about the need to make state government work better, and in some instances, he has,” said Dave Gahl, Environmental Advocates’ executive director. “And while the Cuomo administration is not responsible for the deep DEC staff cuts of previous administrations, the Governor’s philosophy has been for his agency to do less with less, leaving it struggling to protect public health, safety, and our shared environment.”
The report is based on data the DEC is required to provide to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The biggest decline, according to the report, came from inspections of facilities that hold a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or SPDES, permit. Such permits are held by facilities that discharge into waterways, such as sewage treatment plants and stormwater systems.
DEC inspected 1,028 of those facilities in 2009 compared to 264 in 2012, a 74 percent drop, the report found. The number of violations, however, remained steady, with 23 percent of the water facilities cited for enforcement.
The full report is below. We’ll update with a response from the DEC when it comes in.