Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Republican Governor J. Fife Symington III vetoed a similar measure back in the 1990s. Since his aide Chuck Coughlin is the shadow governor of Arizona today in Governor's Brewer's office, maybe another veto is possible.
I will join in the Tucson Weekly's call to Stop the Polluter Protection Act! Call Gov. Brewer and Urge Her To Veto HB 2199:
[W]e’re once again asking you to reach for your telephone to give Brewer a call and ask her to veto HB 2199, otherwise known as the Polluter Protection Act.
Supporters of the bill—which include all of the Republican lawmakers in our neck of the woods—say the legislation will create an “environmental audit privilege” that will just encourage companies to clean up any toxic messes that they discover in the course of doing business.
But opponents of the legislation—such as the Sierra Club and most of our Democratic lawmakers—argue that it lets polluters off the hook if they discover they’ve been violating environmental regulations, as long as they report the problem to the government. Those reports are hidden behind a veil of secrecy and can’t be used in civil lawsuits if the state or other injured parties decide to sue over violations of the law, with all sorts of restrictions on how the information could be used in future lawsuits, including limits on who could testify—which would go a long way to silencing whistleblowers.
You don't have to be Erin Brockovich to realize that the new law creates an incentive for businesses to ignore the environmental regulations that keep poisons out of Arizona’s air and water. If a company knows that it hide wrongdoing in legal web of secrecy and say it’s sorry after committing violations, it’s gonna be a lot easier for bad actors to commit bad deeds. And that is bad news for companies that do play by the rules, because their competitors will be the ones cutting corners to drive them out of business.
Call Gov. Brewer at 1-(800)-253-0883 and tell her to veto HB 2199. Arizona doesn’t need a Polluter Protection Act.
UPDATE: Too late. Capitol Briefs:
Companies can now hide pollution records
Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation Thursday that will allow companies to shield some records of their pollution from the public.
Proponents of the legislation, including the state's mining interests, said the new law will encourage businesses to seek out their own environmental violations and come up with a plan to correct the problem if they do not believe their discoveries will be used against them. That is accomplished through a provision which makes any records of the activities "privileged," meaning a company need not disclose it in any civil lawsuit or administrative proceeding.
None of that applies if the company violated the terms of any state or federal permits which limit its discharges.
Opponents said while the measure does not provide actual immunity, it can leave other nearby property owners in the dark about activities that may affect them.