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New York Environmental Law Blog

NYC Digs Up New Solutions to Polluted Soil

2018 11 13 PUREsoil Soil Bank Image.jpgClean Soil: A Poem

A fist of soil,

by any other name

would still be dirt.

But dirty soil can be,

might be clean soil,

if given a chance to do so.

First the obvious: we all know that soil is inherently dirty (it is dirt after all!). But not all soil is created equal. In some instances, that stuff we call dirt might actually be clean and economically useful. But how can dirt and soil ever be considered "clean"? New York City is tackling this apparent oxymoron with the launch of PUREsoil NYC.

New York Supreme Court Requires At A Minimum Some Explanation From Lead Agency For SEQRA Determination

New York Supreme Court Requires At A Minimum Some Explanation From Lead Agency For SEQRA Determination

What's one of the easiest ways for a court overturn a lead agency's determination under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)? One way to fall short is when the lead agency provides limited or no reasoning for its decision-making. The Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals learned this the hard way in a recent Supreme Court decision.

First a bit of background on SEQRA: As we have noted in a previous blog, in New York, any construction project that requires state "action," including approval from a "state agency" that may have a "significant effect on the environment," must go through a SEQRA assessment to determine if the proposed project "may" have an adverse environmental impact. During the initial stages to determine whether a project may have an adverse environmental impact, lead agencies are required to take a close look at the proposed action and typically issue reasoned explanation as to their ultimate decision. Projects are either flagged for further SEQRA investigation or determined to not require further review through the issuance of a "negative declaration." Lead agencies are given a lot of deference, and courts rarely reverse lead agencies in SEQRA matters.

Animal Feeding Operations to Face Updated Stormwater Permitting Requirements


When it comes to stormwater discharges from agricultural operations, every so often New York State (NYS) has to ask: where's the beef?

As a result of that inquiry and after careful review of existing guidelines, the New York State (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation (the "DEC") recently decided to publicly notice a draft of the new State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Companies affected by the new permit had the chance to voice their concerns or support of the proposed new General Permit, GP-0-19-001, through October 5, 2018.

U.S. Climate Alliance 2018 Initiatives


President Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement back in 2017, but that doesn't mean that individual states are waiting on climate action. This past June marked the first anniversary of the U.S. Climate Alliance, and we are seeing our climate leaders take on new initiatives to ensure a clean energy future for the United States.

What's the Big Deal with PFAs?


DEC Finalizes Major Changes to State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Regulations

DEC Finalizes SEQR updates

What's a New York developer to do about the seemingly interminable environmental review of proposed projects and the costs these reviews add to affected projects?

Hope that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hears your prayers. And it has, for some of you.

New York & Connecticut to EPA: Curb Smog Pollution from Other States ASAP

EPA to act on Smog Blog ImageWhen the federal government's failure to regulate air pollution on time (as required by Congress) leads to environmental exposure of a state's residents, what remedies are there to protect the populace? Answer: the affected states can sue. That's exactly what happened when New York and Connecticut sued the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently.

Earlier this summer, the EPA was ordered by a federal district judge who is demanding that the feds create final plans to regulate smog pollution by early December 2018. Specifically, the district court is requiring the EPA to act to control smog pollution that continues to blow into New York and Connecticut from upwind states like Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

DEC Proposes Stormwater Permitting Rule for Wineries, Breweries, and Hard Cideries in New York

2018 08 29 SPDES Permit for Wineries Blog Image.jpgThe New York State (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation (the "DEC" or "Department") is brewing up new stormwater regulations that will directly affect licensed wineries, breweries, and hard cideries in New York State.

The DEC's proposal requires issuance of a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("SPDES") General Permit that will cover facility wastewater discharges of such facilities to groundwater. Process wastewater generated through production of wine, beer, and hard cider is classified as an "industrial waste" that needs to be monitored and treated appropriately before the water discharges into ground water of the state. The DEC determined that a general permit with uniform standards for management of the wastewater would be appropriate and useful for that regulated industry.

New York Supreme Court Reverses Lead Agencies in SEQRA Case, Determined They Arbitrarily Misclassified Project That Will Disturb More Than 150 Acres of Land

2018 08 08 SEQRA Reversal Case Blog Image.jpg

"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck." This simple idiom can be helpful in even the most complex circumstances. In a recent CPLR Article 78 case challenging a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) determination out of Wayne County, the Power Authority of the State of New York and the New York State Canal Corporation (collectively, the "State Agencies") should have considered it.

Tenant Liability Exemption under CERCLA Broadens in 2018 Congressional Appropriations Law

2018 08 01 BFPP Expansion Tenant Blog Image (JR1).jpg

The original goal of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was to clean up highly contaminated dump sites. Its provisions weren't meant to deal originally with your everyday contaminated parcel that is the subject of most commercial property transactions. To address your everyday transactions, Congress passed brownfields amendments in 2002, and that's where the changes in law we discuss here most often apply.

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