ALBANY, N.Y. - U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to restart a federal program to cleanup empty gasoline stations and nearby contaminated land, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports. The senator said this week that he would take his request to Congress in the form of the Brownfields Tax Incentives.
The program would provide a tax deduction for environmental cleanup costs on eligible properties for the year the work took place. The Senate will consider a group of expired tax cuts to kickstart business development by the year€™s end, and Schumer said he would slip in the brownfields deduction with that.
"Gas stations are often located on prime real estate in bustling downtown areas that are worth every penny to local developers, even given the need for cleanup," said Schumer. "This plan can help turn toxic, vacant sites into productive gateways to our upstate communities, and I will push hard to get this done."
Nationwide, 450,000 brownfields exist, around half of them with petroleum pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Letting brownfields alone can trigger environmental disasters.
"[Underground storage tanks] don€™t just stay intact in the ground," said Alison Jenkins, fiscal policy program director for Environmental Advocates of New York. "They rupture€¦or the oil leaks out of them. It€™s tough to find them, too, unless you know they€™re there, because they€™re underground."