environmental audit privilege
Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: HB2199
Legislative Session: 2012 Legislative Session
HB2199 NOW: environmental audit privilege is the resurrection of the "Polluter Protection Act." It allows companies to do internal audits, to keep the information, including violations of law, secret, and the information in the audit cannot be used to prosecute them for violations of law. What a deal! This was a horrible idea 17 years ago and is still a really bad idea. All it does is reward the most irresponsible industries and companies, the "bad actors."
Senator Gallardo attempted to amend it on the Floor to change the name of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to the Department of Polluter Permitting. That amendment failed and the bill advanced, but Senators Gallardo, Landrum Taylor, and Nelson all spoke out against it.
To see how your senator voted, click on HB2199 Senate Vote.
To see how your reprsentatives voted, click on HB2199 House Vote.
To send a message of disappointment to the Governor, just click on Polluter Protection Act.
It includes punitive measures for anyone who releases information from an audit; it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor to disclose information in the audit. Thus it will have a chilling effect on any whistleblowers in a company or in a regulating agency.
Secrecy and the fact that anything found in an audit cannot be used relative to civil or administrative enforcement actions create the type of program that can jeopardize state delegation agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA cannot approve a state program that lacks enforcement authority.
We can support a system that challenges businesses and others to significantly contribute toward protecting and achieving a healthy environment. This, however, is no such a system. Allowing the least responsible entities, the bad actors, to have a shield of secrecy will not improve environmental compliance or the publics confidence in policy makers or in the companies that are actually trying to do the right thing.
Will the air be cleaner, the water more drinkable, or our soils less contaminated if this bill is passed? Not at all. Under this Environmental Audit Privilege, there are no compliance requirements and everything is hidden with zero public scrutiny.
What about neighbors of a facility? How will they know that the company has violations and that they or their businesses are potentially at risk? The public and any neighboring businesses or homes are totally cut out of this process and kept in the dark.
The effect of this bill will be to shield the bad actors and the most irresponsible companies and individuals. It will not increase environmental compliance. It will not make our air more breathable or our water more drinkable.