With AMD's supposed arrival creeping over the horizon, residents and officials have been wrestling with the question of how to best ensure Malta and its environment will remain safe with a microchip manufacturing facility at Luther Forest Technology Campus.
The state's Department of Environmental Conservation presented a possible solution to the town board on Monday evening, June 2, in the form of the New York Environmental Leaders (NYEL) program. It's a new, voluntary initiative that the DEC is encouraging businesses, big and small, to adopt, and it focuses on having companies go above and beyond the bare minimum requirements of the DEC and the state Environmental Protection Agency.
John Vana of the DEC appeared before the town board to explain the plan.
He said that the program is really about going beyond what the DEC already requires. The goals are twofold, to motivate and sustain high environmental performance and to provide recognition and incentives to members.
Those who participate in NYEL have the choice to enter the program on the entry tier or leadership tier. Based on a list of performance indicators such as material use, water and energy use, and air emissions, members of the entry tier would have to identify two areas in which they plan to show considerable improvement over the DEC baselines. Those in the entry tier would have five years to meet that goal before entering the leadership tier, in which they would identify four commitments to improve over three years.
"The DEC is more accustomed to command and control. In this case, the program is intended to complement DEC compliance programs," said Vana.
Their progress would be tracked by the DEC through annual reports and site visits to occur at least every three years in the leadership tier. The findings of such visits would be made public, which is something the town has been pushing for in discussions with AMD. Councilman Peter Klotz noted that "the town wants to know what's going on without being too intrusive or getting over our heads technically."