The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) has in many ways lived up to its name – fees established under the law have prompted scores of companies to reduce or eliminate their use of chemicals, cutting overall payments into the program. Unfortunately, the people who run TURA have taken that as a cue to jack up fees to a level that may drive many of the remaining companies out of state.
The TUR Administrative Council voted 4-2 a week ago to begin the regulatory process to raise TURA fees nearly 50 percent for many companies, with total overall fees collected increasing 42 percent, (some of the smaller companies get less of an increase).
The two members to vote against the proposal were Timothee Rodrique, Chief Engineer, Division of Fire Safety and Tim Wilkerson, Regulatory Ombudsman, Director of Economic Policy Development. The proposal will now proceed through the normal process for regulation changes, including public comment.
Enacted in 1989 and amended most recently in 2006, TURA requires Massachusetts companies that use large quantities of listed chemicals to evaluate and plan for pollution prevention opportunities, implement them if practical, and annually measure and report the results.
AIM opposes the proposal to increase fees:
- The universe of filers under the TURA program is only 468 companies. Forcing those companies to pay more to fund programs from which they derive no benefit is anti-business and acts more as a tax than a fee.
Mmany companies left on the list either manufacture or distribute listed chemicals, or use these chemicals in a way for which there is no substitute. These companies thus pay a tax for merely operating – and employing workers – here in Massachusetts. No other state levies such a fee.
The fee is even applicable if a company uses these chemicals for public safety or pollution control.
AIM was also concerned with the lack of analysis related to the impact these fees would have on users and the lack of notification to the impacted parties.
AIM has at times supported regulatory fee increases, but only when those hikes are connected to a benefit the payers are receiving. Here, the program is continuing to collect fees only because many of the remaining companies are caught in an endless cycle of reporting. The overall fee income is declining because a shrinking number of companies use these chemicals, which under normal conditions would be considered a success. Here it just means more fee increases for the remaining companies to maintain the program
As the regulatory process continues we urge those who will be impact to make comments and call their elected officials to make the point that the fee increases should be reasonable and connected to a service provided.