title_header

ERIE.GOV | Your information resource from the government of Erie County, New York


County Executive Elected Officials County Departments Living In Erie County Visiting Erie County Growing your business in Erie County State and regional municipalities

May 2013 Column - Tonawanda Coke fine money must remain local


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick announces that Town of Tonawanda resident Ron Hoeltke has been named the April 2014 Citizen of the Month in recognition of his service to local youth sports. Hoeltke, a longtime supporter of the Tonawanda...

Let me add my voice to the chorus of others praising Ralph Wilson upon the occasion of his passing.  There was a misperception in some quarters that Mr. Wilson came into Buffalo and took a ton of money back to his home in Detroit.  This...

Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick reminds residents that on Saturday, April 12, electronics will be collected at GM Tonawanda Engine Plant No. 1, 2995 River Road, between Sheridan Drive and Edgar Avenue. Items will be collected from 9 a.m. to...

The devil is in the details.  I could not help but think of this old saying as I sat watching County Executive Mark Poloncarz deliver his State of the County Address a couple weeks ago.

Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick has planned two District Outreach Meetings on Tuesday, March 4 to meet with residents and discuss County issues. 

oneilj - Posted on 08 May 2013

By now, most people are aware that a federal jury recently found Tonawanda Coke Corp. guilty of violating the Clean Air Act and the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act.

What people may not understand is where the case goes from here. There is good reason for this, as there is relatively little precedent to guide us. It is not every day, after all, that David beats Goliath. But that is what happened here, as area residents joined together to form the Clean Air Coalition, which was successful in attracting the attention of state and federal regulators to the problems plaguing their neighborhoods.

The trial of Tonawanda Coke now enters the sentencing phase. As it currently stands, federal Judge William Skretny is preparing to pronounce sentence on July 15.

The corporation could be liable for fines of around $200 million. With this in mind, a number of groups and local officials have been meeting to coordinate our efforts to urge the court to keep as much fine money as possible in the area impacted most by the corporation, namely, the Tonawandas and Grand Island.

Rep. Brian Higgins’ office, state legislators and officials from Grand Island and the Tonawandas have all been involved in these efforts. So, too, have the Clean Air Coalition and its founder, Jackie James Creedon, who now operates the Tonawanda Community Fund.

The hope is that we can convince Judge Skretny to use fine money to benefit the communities most severely affected by the pollution. Toward this end, I have introduced a resolution in the County Legislature seeking to put the county on record as favoring local disposition of the fine money.

Other local governments either have passed or are about to pass similar resolutions. Together, we are attempting to assemble a list of suggestions for the court regarding specific uses of the fine money. It is encouraging to see people from the various municipalities of all political parties come together to provide a united front.

Individuals can help, also. U.S. Attorney William Hochul is accepting victim impact statements to aid the court in determining an appropriate sentence in the case. This provides a vehicle by which the personal stories of those most directly impacted by Tonawanda Coke can make the court aware of their situations.

 

Statements must be submitted by July 1 to United States Attorney’s Office, Attn: Sharon Knope, 138 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY, 14202.

Although we can never totally reverse the damage that has been done, by working together, we can achieve the best result possible for the citizens of our community.

If you have thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. I can be contacted by phone at 858-8672 or via email at kevin.hardwick@ erie.gov.