Senate Passes Bill to Help Prevent Environmental Crimes

May 23, 2013

The New York State Senate today passed legislation that would prosecute those who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment while committing another crime. The bill (S1016), sponsored by Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I, Rochester), would deter thieves or other vandals from committing crimes that could result in contamination, and hold those accountable for financial and environmental damage from their actions. 

“So often, during the commission of a crime, defendants are so focused upon their intent that they disregard the impact of the additional damage they may cause in committing the crime,” said Senator Robach. “With appropriate penalties, I hope this bill would deter thefts such as this from occurring again and prevent significant environmental damage.”

In one incident that took place in August 2010, criminals in search of copper to steal and resell broke into a spare electrical transformer owned by Rochester Gas and Electric in the Town of Greece, Monroe County. In the process of accessing the copper, 4,800 gallons of oil was drained from the transformer, causing land and water contamination of the surrounding environment at an estimated remediation cost of over $1 million. None of the current Criminal Mischief statutes adequately address this environmental devastation.
This measure would make it a felony to commit such large-scale environmental damage, either intentionally or recklessly.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.