"This is an administration that is openly disdainful of any and all things environmental," said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, a Long Island Democrat who is chairman of the chamber's Environmental Conservation Committee.
An internal memo from the Department of Environmental Conservation paints a bleak picture of a gutted agency unable to accomplish its full mission if Gov. David Paterson achieves the job cuts he wants, according to Times Union.
If DEC cuts the 209 jobs demanded by the governor, the agency will have lost 22 percent of its staff since April 2008.
To reach this latest cut, DEC may have to turn over unspecified programs to either federal or local officials, according to a memo sent by the agency to the state Budget Division and obtained by the Times Union.
The unsigned, undated memo warns that fewer polluted sites would be cleaned up, fewer regulators would be available to oversee the potential natural gas drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale, and stocking of game fish could halt.
In order to avoid cuts to programs that protect human health or address immediate environmental damage, the memo suggests the most logical places for deep cuts would be outdoor recreation and sports -- including skiing, fishing, hunting, camping and hiking.
"Many of our programs are hanging by a thread. The public would be shocked to learn how thin we are in many areas," it states. "DEC is in the weakest position that it has been since it was created 40 years ago."
DEC spokesman Yancey Roy referred comment on the memo to the state Budget Division, which did not return a call. Roy said he was not aware of any pending layoff notices at DEC.
In April 2008, DEC had 3,775 staffers; Paterson's goal of 209 further job cuts, coming on the heels of 260 staffers who left last month under an early retirement program, would reduce that to 2,926 by December. Paterson has called for a total reduction of 2,000 additional state workers by the end of the year, although unions have threatened legal action to block that action.
"This is an administration that is openly disdainful of any and all things environmental," said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, a Long Island Democrat who is chairman of the chamber's Environmental Conservation Committee. "This is penny-wise and pound foolish. We are paying a price for this, and already are unable to access federal funding for ourselves and not-for-profit agencies because DEC no longer has the people to do the paperwork. How dumb is that?"