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EPA and the City University of New York Agree to Environmental Self-Audit Program
Release Date: 01/31/2003
|(#03005) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the City University of New York (CUNY), the country’s largest urban university, have taken a significant step to ensure the health and safety of CUNY’s more than 400,000 students and staff by signing an environmental audit agreement. Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator, and Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of the City University of New York, have signed an agreement under which CUNY has agreed to carry out a comprehensive environmental self-audit program.
“CUNY has achieved an A+ for the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. “Hundreds of thousands of students and staff who attend or work at this huge institution will benefit from this environmental self audit program. CUNY’s agreement with EPA sends a clear message: voluntary self audits and disclosures protect people’s health and the environment on college and university campuses and avoid penalties for violations; it’s the way to go.”
“I am pleased to join with the leadership of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in announcing the participation of The City University of New York in the environmental self-audit program,” said CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “ Whether you work or study at a CUNY college, or visit a campus for a community event, we want you to know that we are taking the necessary actions to ensure a safe and healthy environment.”
CUNY has agreed to undertake a comprehensive environmental audit, self report any violations, correct deficiencies in its environmental management, and take steps to prevent recurrence of violations. EPA has agreed to waive most penalties for self-disclosed violations. The agreement covers all major federal environmental programs including air, water, pesticides, solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous substances and chemicals, environmental response, emergency planning, Community Right-to-Know and toxic substances control. This agreement with CUNY is part of EPA’s Colleges and Universities Initiative, which has been in place since 1999. EPA established the initiative because many institutions of higher learning were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement strategies to comply with them. As part of the initiative, EPA sent letters to 365 colleges and universities in New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico; held free workshops to help colleges and universities comply; established a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law; and warned colleges and universities that EPA inspections of their facilities – with the risk of financial penalties – were imminent. EPA attempted to make the institutions aware of the agency’s Voluntary Audit Policy through which institutions can investigate and disclose hazardous waste violations to the agency and, as a compliance incentive, if the necessary conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.
This is EPA’s fifth audit agreement with a university in New York and New Jersey. The first agreement was with Rutgers University in New Jersey, the second with the State University of New York (SUNY), the third with Syracuse University, and the fourth with The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. The self-audit agreement covers CUNY’s campuses in all five boroughs including 17 senior and community colleges and its graduate, law and medical schools.
EPA continues to encourage colleges and universities to participate in the Colleges and Universities Initiative. To date, 48 colleges and universities in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico have come forward to disclose violations to EPA. More than half of those schools have been granted a 100% waiver of certain penalties while the other cases are still under review. In 2002, EPA has filed complaints with penalties totaling more than $1.5 million against Columbia University, Long Island University, New Jersey City University, Pratt Institute, Manhattan College and Princeton University. The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated.
The campuses included in this agreement are:
Borough of Manhattan Community College,
Bronx Community College
City College and Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education
The CUNY Graduate Center
Hostos Community College
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Kingsborough Community College
LaGuardia Community College
Medgar Evers College
New York City College of Technology
Queens College and City University School of Law
Queensborough Community College
College of Staten Island