Today my administration submitted phase one of our written comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) regarding the wholly inadequate draft Consent Order between the NYS DEC and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP). These comments focus on the damages caused by the dumping of highly turbid water down the Lower Esopus Creek and are specifically aimed at the failure of the proposed Consent Order to address these damages to Ulster County property owners.
I am deeply troubled that the NYS DEC and the NYC DEP were both aware in advance of the Consent Order of the comprehensive data and documentation concerning damages to Ulster County property owners on the Lower Esopus that resulted from DEP’s turbid water releases. Unfortunately, it is also obvious that this information was completely ignored during Consent Order negotiations. For this reason, phase one of the comments I am submitting today are accompanied by more than 500 pages of data: evidence of the damages to Ulster County property owners. Phase two will include the County’s legal comments regarding the Consent Order and will be submitted on or before the July 16, 2012 deadline. It is appalling that the damages to Ulster County, our residents, our environment and our economy have been disregarded and what has taken place is closed door meetings between the NYS DEC and NYC DEP. What is equally troubling is the fact that the fate of the citizens of Ulster County without Ulster County’s input and without reliance on this critical data.
This issue highlights that fact that Ulster County has been excluded from the Consent Order process and the people of Ulster County are being disenfranchised. It is my great hope that the NYS DEC reverses course, uses this and other critical information to hold the NYC DEP accountable, and protects the residents of Ulster County. The NYC DEP behaves like an “occupying nation” within Ulster County. A State agency cannot, should not and must not be complicit with these injustices.