Bill S321-2013

Requires environmental impact statements to consider cumulative effects of an action

Requires environmental impact statements to consider cumulative effects of an action for projects in communities already experiencing the impact by polluting facilities; defines "cumulative environmental impacts".

Details

Actions

  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
  • Jan 9, 2013: REFERRED TO ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S321

TITLE OF BILL: REVISED 12/10/12 An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to the requirement for an environmental impact statement

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF THE BILL: The purpose of this bill is to ensure that lead agencies consider the cumulative effects of a proposed action when an environmental impact statement (EIS) is performed during the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill would add a new provision to environmental impact statement preparation under SEQRA requiring an analysis of cumulative environmental impacts of a proposed action, including efforts to minimize such impacts. Under the bill cumulative environmental impacts would be defined as impacts that may occur when a proposed action or actions:

* May result in changes in two or more elements of the environment; * When considered together with one or more pending or proposed actions, may result in changes in one or more common elements of the environment; * Will result in one or more other actions likely to be undertaken as a result thereof; * Is a part of a proposal or plan that includes or contemplates one or more other simultaneous or subsequent actions; * Is dependent upon approval or completion of one or more other actions; * Is a plan, program, or series of actions that will restrict the range of future alternatives, policies, or actions; * When considered together with existing or background levels of contamination or pollution or actions which have had an adverse effect on the environment, may result in combined or synergistic impacts on the environment; or * A combination of one or more of the above. * Such impacts would be considered without regard to whether the action or actions are proposed by the same individual, person, or agency, or whether the action is pending for approval by one or more agencies.

JUSTIFICATION: The decision whether or not to prepare an EIS should not be made in isolation from existing community pollution levels or a previous decision requiring that an EIS be prepared for the project when it was proposed in another location. Nonetheless, EIS's have not been required by the department even though these factors are significantly present. No EIS was required to be prepared by New York City or the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Regulated Medical Waste Incinerator. This was apparently an important part because the standards and various environmental and risk assessment studies were performed to the satisfaction of DEe. This is unacceptable.

A number of contaminant-emitting facilities are already located in the affected community, and no analysis was prepared and circulated to the public about existing pollution levels in the community and the cumulative impact of these and the new facility. A primary purpose of an EIS is to present pertinent information to the public for its scrutiny and comment. The environmental and risk assessment data developed should have been released to the public as part of an EIS process. Adding additional consternation to the public in the case in question is that an EIS was required for a similar type of facility located in a rural area of the State. Presently, a project which is required to have an EIS prepared when proposed at a location in one DEC region is able to move its project to another DEC region and avoid such a requirement. This happened in the case of a transformer incinerator first proposed for relocation within Region 3 which then moved to Region 4. Region 4 staff also recommended that an EIS be prepared, but this was changed by regional and headquarters DEC office staff apparently as a result of intervention requested by the applicant.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: Senate: 2011-2012 - S.7272 - Referred to Environmental Conservation Assembly: 2009-2010 - A.840 - Referred to Environmental Conservation/S.843 Referred to Environmental Conservation 2007-2008 - A.1009 - Referred to Environmental Conservation 2005-2006 - A.1423- Advanced to 3rd Reading Cal. 411/S.3131- Referred to Environmental Conservation 2003-04 - A.2847 - Advanced to 3rd Reading Cal. 599/S.2988- Referred to Environmental Conservation 2001-2002 - A.1328- Passed Assembly/S.2410 Referred to Environmental Conservation

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

This bill could lead to preparation of some additional environmental impact statements with associated lead agency review costs. Preparation costs are usually borne by project applicants.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the 180th day with provisions.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 321 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sens. AVELLA, MONTGOMERY -- read twice and ordered print- ed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Environmental Conservation AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to the requirement for an environmental impact statement THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraphs (b) and (f) of subdivision 2 of section 8-0109 of the environmental conservation law, as amended by chapter 219 of the laws of 1990, are amended and a new paragraph (e-1) is added to read as follows: (b) the environmental impact of the proposed action including short- term [and], long-term AND CUMULATIVE effects; (E-1) AN ANALYSIS OF THE CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT; (f) mitigation measures proposed to minimize the environmental impact, INCLUDING CUMULATIVE EFFECTS; S 2. Section 8-0105 of the environmental conservation law is amended by adding a new subdivision 9 to read as follows: 9. "CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS" MEANS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS THAT MAY OCCUR WHEN A PROPOSED ACTION OR ACTIONS: (I) MAY RESULT IN CHANGES IN TWO OR MORE ELEMENTS OF THE ENVIRONMENT; (II) WHEN CONSIDERED TOGETHER WITH ONE OR MORE PENDING OR PROPOSED ACTIONS, MAY RESULT IN CHANGES IN ONE OR MORE COMMON ELEMENTS OF THE ENVIRONMENT; (III) WILL RESULT IN ONE OR MORE OTHER ACTIONS LIKELY TO BE UNDERTAKEN AS A RESULT THEREOF; (IV) IS A PART OF A PROPOSAL OR PLAN THAT INCLUDES OR CONTEMPLATES ONE OR MORE OTHER SIMULTANEOUS OR SUBSEQUENT ACTIONS;
(V) IS DEPENDENT UPON APPROVAL OR COMPLETION OF ONE OR MORE OTHER ACTIONS; (VI) IS A PROGRAM OR PLAN HAVING WIDE APPLICATION OR IS A PART THERE- OF; (VII) IS A PLAN, PROGRAM, OR SERIES OF ACTIONS THAT WILL RESTRICT THE RANGE OF FUTURE ALTERNATIVES, POLICIES, OR ACTIONS; (VIII) WHEN CONSIDERED TOGETHER WITH EXISTING OR BACKGROUND LEVELS OF CONTAMINATION OR POLLUTION OR ACTIONS WHICH HAVE HAD AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE ENVIRONMENT, MAY RESULT IN COMBINED OR SYNERGISTIC IMPACTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT; OR (IX) A COMBINATION OF ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE. CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS SHALL BE CONSIDERED WITHOUT REGARD TO WHETHER THE ACTION OR ACTIONS ARE PROPOSED BY THE SAME INDIVIDUAL, PERSON, OR AGENCY, OR WHETHER THE ACTION IS PENDING FOR APPROVAL BY ONE OR MORE AGENCIES. S 3. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law; provided, however that effective imme- diately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.

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