Eliminates the MTA's exemption from environmental quality review standards established by article 8 of the environmental conservation law.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public authorities law, in relation to eliminating the metropolitan commuter transportation authority's environmental quality review exemption
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill would eliminate special exemptions to the State Environmental Quality Review Act that apply solely to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends subdivisions 3 and 11 of section 1266 of the public authorities law by removing language which exempts the metropolitan commuter transportation authority from environmental quality review under article eight of the environmental conservation law.
Section 2 sets forth an immediate effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) is New York State's fundamental environmental protection law. It requires government agencies to consider the potential environmental impacts of actions they propose to take before making any decision to take those actions.
There are several exemptions to SEQRA sprinkled throughout the Consolidated Laws. However, these exemptions tend to be very narrow and apply only to acquisitions of specific properties. For example, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) enjoys a SEQRA exemption that is limited to the acquisition and purchase of the Sheridan Avenue steam plant in Albany. The MTA's SEQRA exemptions allow the authority to take just about any action without any environmental review. This is extremely unusual and perhaps unique. Public authorities that perform functions similar those performed by the MT A, including transportation authorities across the state such as the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, the Capital District Transportation Authority, and the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority, enjoy no SEQRA exemptions.
The MTA owns a great deal of real property, operates a huge quantity of equipment and affects the lives of millions of New Yorkers. Its actions can have very substantial environmental impacts and should be reviewed. This legislation will ensure that the MT A will be held to the same standard as other state public authorities and agencies.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2009-2010: Referred to Transportation; Reported to Finance 2007-2008: Referred to Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Undetermined.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1386 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 7, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. PERKINS, DILAN, DUANE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Trans- portation AN ACT to amend the public authorities law, in relation to eliminating the metropolitan commuter transportation authority's environmental quality review exemption THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivisions 3 and 11 of section 1266 of the public author- ities law, subdivision 3 as amended and subdivision 11 as added by chap- ter 314 of the laws of 1981, are amended to read as follows: 3. The authority may establish, levy and collect or cause to be estab- lished, levied and collected and, in the case of a joint service arrangement, join with others in the establishment, levy and collection of such fares, tolls, rentals, rates, charges and other fees as it may deem necessary, convenient or desirable for the use and operation of any transportation facility and related services operated by the authority or by a subsidiary corporation of the authority or under contract, lease or other arrangement, including joint service arrangements, with the authority. Any such fares, tolls, rentals, rates, charges or other fees for the transportation of passengers shall be established and changed only if approved by resolution of the authority adopted by not less than a majority vote of the whole number of members of the authority then in office, with the chairman having one additional vote in the event of a tie vote, and only after a public hearing, provided however, that fares, tolls, rentals, rates, charges or other fees for the transportation of passengers on any transportation facility which are in effect at the time that the then owner of such transportation facility becomes a subsidiary corporation of the authority or at the time that operation of such transportation facility is commenced by the authority or is commenced under contract, lease or other arrangement, including jointEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01761-01-1 S. 1386 2
service arrangements, with the authority may be continued in effect without such a hearing. Such fares, tolls, rentals, rates, charges and other fees shall be established as may in the judgment of the authority be necessary to maintain the combined operations of the authority and its subsidiary corporations on a self-sustaining basis. The said oper- ations shall be deemed to be on a self-sustaining basis as required by this title, when the authority is able to pay or cause to be paid from revenue and any other funds or property actually available to the authority and its subsidiary corporations (a) as the same shall become due, the principal of and interest on the bonds and notes and other obligations of the authority and of such subsidiary corporations, together with the maintenance of proper reserves therefor, (b) the cost and expense of keeping the properties and assets of the authority and its subsidiary corporations in good condition and repair, and (c) the capital and operating expenses of the authority and its subsidiary corporations. The authority may contract with the holders of bonds and notes with respect to the exercise of the powers authorized by this section.
[No acts or activities taken or proposed to be taken by the authority or any subsidiary of the authority pursuant to the provisions of this subdivision shall be deemed to be "actions" for the purposes or within the meaning of article eight of the environmental conservation law.]11. No project to be constructed upon real property theretofore used for a transportation purpose, or on an insubstantial addition to such property contiguous thereto, which will not change in a material respect the general character of such prior transportation use, nor any acts or activities in connection with such project, shall be subject to the provisions of article [eight,]nineteen, twenty-four or twenty-five of the environmental conservation law, or to any local law or ordinance adopted pursuant to any such article. [Nor shall any acts or activities taken or proposed to be taken by the authority or by any other person or entity, public or private, in connection with the planning, design, acquisition, improvement, construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of a transportation facility, other than a marine or aviation facility, be subject to the provisions of article eight of the environmental conservation law, or to any local law or ordinance adopted pursuant to any such article if such acts or activities require the preparation of a statement under or pursuant to any federal law or regulation as to the environmental impact thereof.]S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.