Source: Times Union (Albany, NY), April 8, 2016
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com
Oil giant Exxon Mobil has paid the largest single settlement ever into a four-decade-old state fund that cleans up oil and petroleum spills.
The company is paying $10.75 million to the taxpayer-supported Environmental Protection and Oil Spill Fund to cover the state’s costs in cleaning up eight former gas stations, including a location on North Pearl Street in the city of Albany, according to an announcement by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The state started paying for the initial cleanups in 1989 and began pressing Exxon for payment in 2004, with the most recent claims dating to 2012. Cleanups are run through the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Under the settlement, Exxon will also take over responsibility for remaining cleanup costs at four of the eight gas stations, which also includes a location in Amsterdam, Montgomery County. The other spills were in Putnam, Orange, Sullivan, Onondaga and Erie counties.
“This settlement transfers the responsibility of eight oil spill cleanups from taxpayers to the spiller, where it belongs,” said DiNapoli. “The Oil Spill Fund is designed to help protect our families and our communities from the consequences of oil spills, because New Yorkers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of these costs.”
The fund gets most of its cash from taxpayers in the form of a gasoline tax. Added Schneiderman: “This settlement ensures that the state will not be forced to foot the bill to clean up hazardous oil spills.”
In 2013, Exxon paid the then-largest single payment to the cleanup fund — more than $8 million — to cover disputed costs of a state-run cleanup of a former oil terminal on the St. Lawrence River.
At that time, the fund, had spent more than $464 million since 1978 on spill cleanups, $306 million to run the program, and collected $196 million from polluters. During that same period, the gasoline tax kicked in $577 million.
By 2015, the fund had spent $490 million, $342 million to run the program, and had collected $219.8 million from polluters like Exxon. The share to support the program from the gasoline tax rose to $622 million.