Environmental activists say the clock is ticking for residents as the Albany County executive considers whether to sign a local clean air law.
County Executive Dan McCoy has had the Clean Air Law on his desk since August 13th. The Democrat must decide by next September 10th whether to sign or veto the bill.
"We've been reviewing it. I've been a little crazy with everything going on so I'm letting my law department cross their T's and dot their I's on this. We had the public hearing last week so we took that into consideration. You know my biggest concern is LaFarge sued in Maryland and prevailed in federal court. So let's make sure it’s written properly so we can enforce it in court, if that's the route that we take and we don't lose in court."
The LaFarge Cement Plant in southern Albany County has been interested in burning tires for some time. Activists warn burning tires is dirtier than the coal that the plant currently burns.
Former EPA regional administrator Judith Enck says while McCoy should definitely take his time with it, the sooner the Clean Air Act is signed into law, the better.
"There was a public hearing on this last week. People overwhelmingly spoke in support of the Clean Air Act. The Albany County Legislature, when they voted at a very wide margin in a bipartisan way by the vote of 32 to 7 to adopt this law. Now I know that LaFarge is threatening to sue the county if they stand up for the people who live here, who want clean air. And I think that the County Executive can work with the County Legislature to address any legal concerns that he has, after he signs the bill into law, they can make what's called chapter amendments, because we all want this law to hold up in court."
McCoy says it's not that easy...
"You know the legislature didn't work with our department of law. They didn't show it to us after they voted on it. So we're just trying to figure it out. People know me. I do have an environmental-friendly great record. But I wanna be able to prevail in court to make it fit. So if I get my briefing from Eugenia, our county attorney, and other people that've been working on it, I'm not gonna rush to make a decision. You know I wanna make sure when we do this, that it's done right, and that we prevail in court if that's the route that we end up going through. LaFarge has already said they're gonna take us to court."
Enck maintains any legal kinks can be worked out later.
"I think the county executive cares about the environment. My guess is he doesn't want millions of tires burned on his watch, and therefore this can be worked out with the County Legislature. It starts by the county executive's signing this bill into law."
If signed, Local Law B will stop new waste facilities from setting up shop in Albany County. It will stop Lafarge from burning tires and trash at its Ravena plant, and will prohibit Norlite in Cohoes, which burned toxic firefighting foam for two years, from burning new waste.
LaFargeHolcim did not return calls for comment.