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New York State Environmental Law Archives

Two Decades Later, New York Proposes First Major Amendments to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)

On January 17, 2017, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released proposed amendments to SEQRA - the department's first major revisions to such regulations in more than two decades. The proposed amendments follow recent efforts by the DEC to modernize SEQRA and are intended to streamline the process by, among other things, new environmental assessment forms along with the creation of workbooks and a spatial data platform on DEC's website (EAF Mapper). According to the DEC, the EAF Mapper "enables users in performing environmental assessments to access the same geographic information relied on by DEC staff.expanding the list of Type II actions that are not subject to SEQRA review."

City Council Members Seek to Redefine "Reside" in Local Lead Paint Law

New York City's lead-based paint law (Local Law 1 [1982]) requires landlords to remove lead-based paint in any apartment unit in which a child under 6 years of age resides. The issue in Yaniveth R. v. LTD Realty Co. was whether a child "resides" in an apartment containing lead-based paint when the child does not live in the apartment but spends approximately 50 hours per week there with a caregiver. The child, who was found to have elevated blood lead level at the age of one lived with her parents but usually stayed with her maternal grandmother five days per week while her parents were at work and did so since she was three months old.

Tonawanda Coke Corporation Enters into a $12 Million Settlement with DEC and EPA for Alleged Violations of State and Federal Environmental Law

The U.S. Federal Government and the State of New York jointly announced on May 11, 2015 a $12 million settlement with Tonawanda Coke Corporation for a litany of alleged environmental violations at TCC's western New York coke manufacturing facility.

DEC Issues New York State's Official Rationale for Fracking Ban

DEC has issued its long-awaited environmental impact study for high volume horizontal fracturing, or fracking, in New York State. This document contains the state's official findings on the environmental and human health impacts of fracking, namely, that too much uncertainty surrounds the impacts of the process to proceed with issuing permits for fracking.

New State Legislation Requires Increased Climate Resilience for New York Infrastructure

As in other areas of environmental policy, New York State is a leader in grappling with global climate change. Since 2009, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has had a policy in place that requires it to consider energy use and greenhouse gas emissions when it prepares or reviews an Environmental Impact Statement under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

New York's Highest Court to Weigh in on Who Bears the Cost of Regulatory Inaction on Fracking

Fresh off its hotly anticipated August 2014 decision upholding the right of municipalities to zone oil and gas extraction operations out of their towns, the New York State Court of Appeals is set to weigh in on another oil and gas extraction issue. This latest matter arrived at the Court of Appeals through a somewhat unusual route, but promises to decide whether landowning lessors or industry lessees bear the cost of state level regulatory inaction on high volume hydraulic fracturing of shale with horizontal drilling (also known as fracking). 

EPA Blocks Clean Water Act Funding for Tappan Zee Bridge Reconstruction

The U.S. EPA easily rejected Governor Andrew Cuomo's loan request, refraining from calling it chutzpah of the highest order: the Governor tried to pass off bridge construction as an environmental project worthy of the federal Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). 

New York Attorney General's Office Releases Report on Extreme Rainfall Trends in New York State

Over the past decade, the changing climate has contributed to an increase in the number of extreme weather events throughout the world. New York State is no exception. Here, we rely on plentiful water resources to provide our necessities such as agriculture, energy, and drinking water. However, this makes New York particularly vulnerable to these drastic weather conditions. The effects of climate change upon our community cannot be ignored. 

Can an Oral Contract Ever be an Enforceable Promise to Fund an Environmental Remediation?

When someone says the word "contract," what comes to mind? For most, it would probably be a signed piece of paper that sets out certain legally enforceable promises made between two parties. But oral contracts can exist, too, and an oral contract can be just as enforceable as a written contract. The problem is that proving the contents of an oral contract is difficult precisely because there is no written record of the agreement. 

County Water Authority has Standing to Sue for Groundwater Contamination, but Timeliness is Governed by New York's Three Year Statute of Limitations

Fixed contaminant standards need not be reached, much less exceeded, in order to cause an injury that courts can recognize. An intermediate appeals court in New York has ruled that the Suffolk County Water Authority may sue chemical companies for groundwater contamination even where the contamination does not exceed an EPA drinking water standard known as a Maximum Contaminant Level. However, this may be a pyrrhic victory, as that same court also ruled that many of the SCWA's claims were too late under New York's three-year statute of limitations for injuries from latent effects of exposure to harmful substances. 

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