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EPA and the City University of New York Agree to Environmental Self-Audit Program

Release Date: 01/31/2003
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(#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.

More information on EPA’s Voluntary Audit Policy is available. The Web site for the Colleges and Universities Initiative is

Additional Information

The campuses included in this agreement are:

Baruch College
17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Borough of Manhattan Community College,
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Bronx Community College
West 181 Street & University Avenue
Bronx, NY 10453

Brooklyn College
Bedford Avenue and Avenue H
Brooklyn, NY 11210

City College and Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education
Convent Avenue and 138th Street,
New York, NY 10031

The CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Hostos Community College
500 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451

Hunter College
695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021

John Jay College of Criminal Justice
899 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Kingsborough Community College
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11235

LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11235

Lehman College
Bedford Park Boulevard West
Bronx, NY 10468

Medgar Evers College
1650 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 1225

New York City College of Technology
300 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Queens College and City University School of Law
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing, NY 11367

Queensborough Community College
222-05 56th Avenue
Bayside, NY 11364

College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10314

York College
94-20 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11451