Senate Passes Bill to Help Prevent Environmental Crimes

February 29, 2016

The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S834), sponsored by Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I, Rochester), to deter criminal activity and prevent environmental crimes. The measure would make it a criminal offense for those who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment while committing another crime.

Senator Robach said, “With the passage of this legislation, we would be able to hold criminals accountable for their actions and long-term damage they might cause while committing a crime. We often forget about the effects on the environment and focus on getting justice for the crime, only to realize that the environmental damage can have a lasting impact on nearby homes and communities, and is often costly to remedy. Now criminals will have to answer to these charges as well.”

During a related incident that took place in the Town of Greece, Monroe County, criminals broke into a spare electrical transformer owned by Rochester Gas and Electric, stealing copper to resell for profit. The removal of the copper resulted in 4,800 gallons of oil being drained from the transformer, causing land and water contamination of the surrounding environment -- an estimated remediation cost of over $1 million.

There are currently no criminal mischief statutes that properly address this type of environmental devastation. This bill would make crimes that result in large-scale environmental damage, either intentionally or recklessly, a class C felony.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

Senators Involved