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The New York State Energy Plan, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015, calls for a doubling to 50 percent of the portion of the electricity used in the state that comes from renewable sources by 2030. This would lower greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and reduce the use of fossil fuels, especially natural gas. Much of this new renewable energy would be generated by wind and solar projects. Some of it would be from wind facilities to be built offshore in the Atlantic Ocean; the rest would be on the land. Various federal and state incentives and mandates, as well as declining costs, have induced private developers to propose large onshore wind and solar farms. However, a number of upstate and Long Island municipalities have adopted or are considering local laws that would inhibit this construction and thus make it more difficult for the state to meet its renewable energy goals. As state statute, Article X of the Public Service Law, allows the state to override these local laws. This column discusses the history and contents of Article X, the case law under it and its predecessors, and how it can be used to help the construction of renewable energy facilities.
The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), the statute that requires the preparation of environmental impact statements for discretionary actions by state and local governments, has long been the most generative source of environmental litigation in New York. The following column discusses the downward trend of litigations under SEQRA in addition to the continuous rise of exemptions from SEQRA. Specifically, the author delves into recent exemptions from SEQRA, standings of SEQRA plaintiffs, SEQRA suits by applicants, safety issues under SEQRA, irregularities under SEQRA, and lastly, SEQRA state and city handbooks.
New laws were signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013 regarding notice requirements in the Brownfield Cleanup Program, Bottle Bill enforcement, mercury thermostats, oversized lobsters, shark fins, and Eurasian boars, among other things. On the regulatory front, the state promulgated final regulations concerning New York's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and regulatory relief for certain dairy farms, and proposed regulations for liquefied natural gas facilities and invasive species. This annual survey describes new environmental laws that were enacted in New York in 2013, as well as several significant regulatory developments. Specifically, this survey looks at developments in the areas of air emissions, brownfields, energy, infrastructure, land preservation, solid and hazardous waste, water pollution, and wildlife.
The New York State Legislature on June 22, 2011, overwhelmingly passed the Power NY Act of 2011. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it on Aug. 4. The new law revives Article X of the Public Service Law after a nearly nine-year hibernation. As before, the law creates a one-stop, state-led program for permitting electric generating facilities while preempting local requirements. But the new Article X differs from its predecessor in several important ways: It covers facilities as small as 25 megawatts, it has even more generous provisions for funding intervenors, and it requires important new rules on environmental justice and carbon dioxide emissions. In this article, the author provides some background and history into Article X. In addition to this, the author explains the workings of the new version of Article X, including its siting board, pre-application and application processes, hearing and decision processes, and lastly, its impact on environmental justice.
Improving energy efficiency is widely acknowledged as the most economical way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the other adverse environmental impacts of fossil use. The United States lacks a comprehensive regulatory program for energy efficiency, although often overlooked are the roles of the state public utility commissions (PUCs). PUCs have long been in charge of setting retail electricity rates and service standards. In recent years, many of them have launched programs and set policies to encourage or require the electric and gas utilities that they regulate to use energy more efficiently or to help their customers do so. This column summarizes the variety of powers and techniques of PUCs to advance energy efficiency, such as the use of energy efficiency targets, utility incentives, shared benefits, on-bill financing, and low-income programs.
In recent months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has started a campaign to pass legislation that would give voters the chance to approve a $3 billion environmental bond act. The 'Restore Mother Nature Bond Act' is designed to complement New York's ambitious Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act by providing funds for the Department of Environmental Conservation and others, to support nature-based projects that mitigate flood risks, restore natural habitats and improve storm resiliency. In this column, the authors examine the background to, and purposes of, the nascent Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. In addition to this, they also discuss constitutional challenges and funding issues associated with the act.
The legal environment for local government in Florida is beginning to change when it comes to sea-level rise. Innovations in institutional structure and governance strategies are underway in the State as well. This paper reviews three recent developments, which relate primarily to comprehensive planning in the State, and explores their implications for Florida’s local governments, among others. It begins with the State’s decision, in 2011 legislation, to give local governments a new, optional tool – referred to as “Adaptation Action Areas” – to address sea-level rise and related issues in local comprehensive plans. The paper then turns to a second piece of Florida legislation, this one enacted in 2015, which also identifies sea-level rise as a concern but this time mandates that local governments begin to address it and other causes of flood-related risks through their comprehensive planning process. Finally, the paper discusses a third initiative, launched in 2009 by four Southeast Florida counties – Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe – to foster local government and regional coordination on sea-level rise and other climate change issues
This annual survey describes new environmental laws that were signed into law in 2010 in New York, as well as two executive orders issued by Governor David A. Paterson and important new regulations from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation concerning endangered and threatened species. The new laws discussed in this survey include the following topics: Air Quality, Brownfields, Endangered Species, Energy, Emissions/Climate Change, Green Jobs, Hazardous Substances, Land Use, Pesticides, Public Health, Recycling, State Environmental Quality Review Act, Solid Waste, Transportation, Wetlands, and Wildlife.
In September 2014, New York enacted the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA), which requires in part that the New York Department of State and the Department of Environmental Conservation create model local laws relating to climate adaptation for use by local governments. In an effort to assist the State with drafting model local laws for adaptation; to encourage the State to incorporate a broad range of adaptation strategies, including retreat from areas of high flood risk; and to assist local governments with implementation of these programs. The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has assembled existing and suggested local law provisions that reflect diverse approaches to adaptation to climate-enhance flood risk. This document is a collection of useful statutory options- one that takes note of local law provisions enacted by local governments in New York, as well as relevant state laws enacted in New York and other jurisdictions. This paper is organized into three sections: Permitting Review, Targeted Development Restrictions and Prudent Development, and Protection/Armoring.
A jurisdiction that seeks to enact a municipal wind energy ordinance must first delineate areas suitable for wind energy projects in its comprehensive plan. Then, the municipality must choose a legal mechanism to regulate wind energy projects within those areas. Lastly, the municipality must write specific regulations addressing details such as size, location, and noise. This paper discusses the choices that a municipality in New York must make in drafting a wind energy ordinance, with reference to how existing codified wind energy ordinances and model municipal wind energy ordinances have dealt with these choices.