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Great Lakes Article:

Outlook good for hazardous waste bill
By Aaron Besecker beseckera@gnnewspaper.com
Niagara Gazette
Published June 1, 2007


The outlook is positive for a bill said to be aimed at the heart of hazardous waste landfilling in Niagara County, according to a lawmaker from the Adirondack region.

State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, this week said she believes a bill that would prohibit toxic landfills within the Great Lakes Basin will have “no problem” passing her chamber of the Legislature.

Little, a member of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, also said she is unsure about how Gov. Eliot Spitzer might act on the pending legislation if given the chance.

Bill No. 5862, sponsored by Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, moved through the environmental committee this week.

If it becomes law, it would prohibit the siting of hazardous waste landfills with the potential to discharge into Great Lakes Basin. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature in 2006, only to be vetoed by Gov. George Pataki.

Many in the Niagara region see the bill as having the potential to stop a planned expansion at CWM Chemical Services in Porter. CWM is the Northeast’s only active commercial hazardous waste landfill.

CWM officials view the bill as an attempt to shut down their company, and believe it may be unconstitutional if it becomes law.

“We don’t look at this bill as being environmentally friendly,” company spokeswoman Lori Caso said last month.

This year’s bill, which consists of the same language as the vetoed bill, has been sent to the Senate’s Rules Committee. It is now eligible to be sent to the house floor for a vote.

Companion legislation in the Assembly, introduced by Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, could be voted on next week.

Little likened the bill’s philosophy to that of a recent ban on landfills within the Adirondack Park.

“Water is very hard to purify once you have polluted it,” she said.

A staffer for the chairman of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee wasn’t as optimistic about the bill’s potential.

Deborah Peck Kelleher, a member of Sen. Carl Marcellino’s staff, pointed to Pataki’s veto memo, which noted the bill would affect 24 counties, or more than half the state.

Peck Kelleher said the language of this year’s bill does not address the issue raised by Pataki.

When a bill is vetoed and resubmitted, lawmakers typically look to see if the issues raised have been resolved, she said.

Marcellino, R-Syosset, has chaired the committee for 11 years. Peck Kelleher said he was unavailable to comment for this story.

Amy Witryol, a Lewiston resident, questioned the belief that the scope of the bill is overly large.

“As we noted last year, it seems inappropriate for Gov. Pataki to have vetoed the bill because he doesn’t like the federal definition of the Great Lakes system and he thinks it’s overprotective,” Witryol said. “We don’t.”

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