In 2012, the Sewer Pollution Right to Know Act (SPRTKA) was signed into law in New York State. This law requires that owners of publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) advise the public when raw or partially treated sewage, including combined sewer overflows (CSOs), is discharged into New York's waterways. On November 9 2016, the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) regulations implementing the SPRTKA took effect.
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."
New York City's lead-based paint law (Local Law 1 ) 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Proponents and opponents of hydraulic fracturing alike have been waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the Wallach v. Town of Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield cases. The wait is over - in late June, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the power of local governments to adopt zoning ordinances which restrict or ban oil and gas operations within their borders.
Can a party who is not the holder of a certain environmental permit be required to perform the obligations set out in that permit? The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation thought so, and argued as much in the case of a property owner who had purchased land where a hazardous waste storage facility had operated years earlier. The purchaser, Thompson Corners, LLC, had never held a permit to operate the facility, which had closed years before the purchase, and was never required to obtain one.
Perhaps you've heard of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," a "plastic soup" of floating waste in the Pacific purportedly twice the size of the United States, but did you know that similar plastic pollution has been documented throughout the Great Lakes? Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney have recognized the threat that this pollution poses to human health, and have recently announced legislation that could speed significant changes in the plastics industry and stop the pollution at its source-your bathroom sink. Unlike in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the culprit in the Great Lakes is not necessarily dumping, but rather the ubiquitous plastic abrasives found in hundreds of common personal care products. Known as "microbeads," these tiny plastic particles are found in everything from cosmetics to toothpaste. They get washed down the drain your bathroom sink, and float untreated through sewage treatment plants into lakes and streams. Once in the environment, they can accumulate and concentrate PCBs and other persistent toxic chemicals that are present in New York's waters as a legacy of the state's industrial past.