Local governments will get a portion of state -imposed air pollution fines under legislation recently cleared by the Senate. Under the bill, the local government where the violation occurred would receive 25 percent of fines over $50,000.
Currently, the fines go to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Clean Air Fund, established with the Air Pollution Control Act in 1992. The Fund finances the Department’s Bureau of Air Quality.
“Some in the DEP might not be too crazy about it but we’re not changing any environmental policy just helping the local communities where the violations occur,” said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, RDelaware, the sponsor of the bill.
Arneson said the bill stems from fines imposed on a Sunoco oil refinery in Pileggi’s district.
“In this particular case, the local government wasn’t even aware the fines occurred,” Arneson said.
The bill requires the money to be used for parks, recreation projects, trails or open space. It also requires the municipality to submit a project proposal to DEP within 180 days of the notification of the municipality.
The local share of the fine will not be available if all fines and penalties deposited in the Clean Air Fund are less than $1,850,000 for the previous fiscal year or if the United States Environmental Protection Agency jointly prosecuted the violation.