The courts decided 46 cases under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in 2018. However, the most important action under SEQRA was in the Legislature, followed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Legislative Action

O n July 18, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, L. 2019 ch. 106. Tucked in the back as Section 7(2), apparently not to be codified in the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) or elsewhere, is this provision:

In considering and issuing permits, licenses, and other administrative approvals and decisions, including but not limited to the execution of grants, loans, and contracts, all state agencies, offices, authorities and divisions shall consider whether such decisions are inconsistent with or will interfere with the attainment of the statewide greenhouse gas limits established in article 75 of the [ECL]. Where such decisions are deemed to be inconsistent with or will interfere with the attainment of the statewide greenhouse gas emission limits, each agency, office, authority or division shall provide a detailed statement of justification as to why such limits/criteria may not be met, and identify alternatives or greenhouse gas mitigation measures to be required where such project is located.

The referenced Article 75—the Climate Change article of ECL that was added by the same enactment—includes Section 75-0107, "Statewide greenhouse gas limits." It calls for these emissions in 2030 to be 60% of 1990 levels, and in 2050, 15% of 1990 levels. The law's preamble has an aspirational goal of a 100% reduction by 2050. The law also has binding requirements that by 2030, at least 70% of New York's electricity come from renewable sources, and that by 2040 100% come from "zero emissions" sources, which means renewables plus nuclear.

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