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An opinion piece by Lois Gibbs in the Aug. 26 News continues to blindly accept and repeat the misguided and erroneous information that is being spread by critics of Gov. George Pataki's comprehensive proposal to refinance and reform the state Superfund program.

Pataki's proposal would continue the most stringent cleanup standards in the nation, while putting in place a practical, predictable and consistent program that will allow more sites to be cleaned up faster and encourage greater private investment, as opposed to taxpayer-funded cleanups.

Cleaning up contaminated sites to the fullest extent possible to ensure the protection of public health and the environment, which is the existing practice of the Superfund program, will not change under Pataki's proposal. It would clarify and codify in law specific criteria that must be considered in determing a final cleanup plan for a site.

As always, all cleanup decisions will be based on sound scientific data. In addition, polluters would pay 100 percent of the costs of cleaning up any property they are responsible for contaminating.

While Gibbs feels that funding for Superfund is being held "hostage" in the debate over its reform, the governor and I agree that the refinancing and reform of the programs that clean up our brownfields and other contaminated properties must go hand-in-hand. New York cannot have one without the other.

Although I consider the existing Superfund program to be tremendously successful, the State Legislature has before it a historic opportunity to improve existing cleanup programs, making the program consistent with the federal Superfund program and programs in nearly every other state.

I urge all residents who care about the environment to step away from the Superfund rhetoric and look at the facts. If they do, they'll see that Pataki's progressive, common-sense reform and refinancing package is the right proposal.


State Department of
Environmental Conservation

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