United States: New York Environmental Legislation In 2017

In 2017, New York State enacted multiple laws that tackle aspects of two major environmental issues facing the state: protecting water quality and advancing the state's clean energy goals. In addition, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed laws concerning oil tankers on the Hudson, elephant welfare, food waste, and lead paint. He also approved a moratorium barring New York City's plastic bag fee from taking effect. This annual survey reports on these developments and other environmental laws enacted in 2017.

Drinking Water

The 2017-18 budget legislation established new regulatory programs to monitor emerging contaminants in public drinking water systems and to mitigate and remediate drinking water impacts caused by solid waste disposal sites. The monitoring law (L. 2017, ch. 57, part M) requires public water systems to test for substances on a list of emerging contaminants promulgated by the Department of Health (DOH). This list will include 1,4-dioxane, perfluorooctane-sulfonic acid, and perfluorooctanoic acid, as well as other substances added based on recommendations from a newly established Drinking Water Quality Council. DOH will set notification levels for listed chemicals; the presence of contaminants in drinking water at concentrations at or above those levels will trigger notification requirements.

To address sites causing drinking water contamination, the budget legislation created a new Article 27, Title 12, in the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), to supplement existing authorities to investigate and mitigate risks caused by waste disposal sites with the potential to impact groundwater. The law (ch. 57, part T) directs the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to prepare annual comprehensive plans for mitigating and remediating solid waste sites that threaten drinking water supplies, including by identifying priority sites. When actual or potential threats to public health are identified, DEC's powers under the new law include implementing or ordering measures such as installation of treatment systems and provision of alternative water supply sources.

The budget legislation also required DEC to work with DOH to incorporate drinking water quality data into a geographic information system (GIS) and required the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to study the feasibility of compiling a database of water quality infrastructure projects funded by EFC, DOH, and DEC. The budget bills contained a number of measures to fund projects to protect water quality, including replacements of septic systems and lead service lines, intermunicipal water infrastructure projects, emergency infrastructure construction and repairs, and source water protection projects (ch. 57, part T).

Another state law (ch. 245) addressed funding for water quality protection by authorizing the Village of Hoosick Falls to issue up to $1.5 million in bonds for reimbursement of "extraordinary expenses" incurred and "extraordinary revenue losses" suffered as a result of the discovery of perfluorooctanoic acid in its municipal water supply in 2014. Another 2017 law aimed at protection of drinking water requires DEC to issue regulations for Long Island compost and mulch facilities to prevent water quality impairment (ch. 449).

Clean Energy

A number of laws were enacted in 2017 to promote development of clean energy sources. An amendment to the Power NY Act of 2011 made geothermal energy systems eligible for on-bill financing (ch. 425), while amendments to the Real Property Tax Law made micro-hydroelectric energy, fuel cell electric generating, micro-combined heat and power generating equipment, and electric energy storage equipment and storage systems eligible for a 15-year property tax exemption (ch. 336). A new provision in the Public Service Law (ch. 415) requires establishment of an energy storage deployment program to promote installation of systems "capable of absorbing energy, storing it for a period of time, and thereafter dispatching the energy." In a signing statement, Governor Cuomo said the law would facilitate development of renewable energy sources. To encourage development of renewable energy sources to support electric vehicles, another law requires that investor-owned utilities establish residential tariffs for purchase of electricity solely for charging electric vehicles (ch. 337). The law is intended to encourage electric vehicle charging during periods when significant amounts of renewable energy are dispatched to the electric grid. Another law eased requirements for municipal sustainable energy loan programs. The law (ch. 320) allows participation in loan programs even if the renewable energy generated on property owned by a participant is to be used off site. In addition, the law eliminates a requirement limiting the maximum loan amount to 10 percent of the appraised value of the property and allows municipalities to use State funds—not just federal funds—to finance their loan programs.

A law signed in December 2017 requires the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to provide incentives for affordable residential green buildings (ch. 486).

Also in December, Cuomo vetoed a bill (S6157/A7722) that would have added approximately 1,100 acres of privately owned land to the Central Pine Barrens and Core Pine Barrens Areas on Long Island. The landowners had initiated plans to develop solar energy projects at the sites; the legislation would have impeded the projects. Cuomo said he objected to the legislation, which "unnecessarily pits land preservation against renewable energy, both of which are necessary to preserve the State's environment and natural resources for future generations."

At the end of December, Cuomo signed amendments to the New York City Administrative Code (ch. 503) requiring the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission to permit use of all hybrid electric and electric vehicle models as taxicabs so long as they meet requirements for use as for-hire vehicles.

Oil Tankers

Another new law authorizes DEC to establish guidelines for operation of petroleum-bearing vessels on the Hudson River and to establish zones where such vessels cannot operate (ch. 351). The law—a response to a currently suspended U.S. Coast Guard proposal to establish new anchorage grounds on the river between Yonkers and Kingston— directs the DEC commissioner to prepare a report with recommendations for plans, policies, and programs affecting petroleum-bearing vessels on the Hudson.

Lead Paint

Changes to §1373 of the Public Health Law imposed more stringent enforcement requirements for addressing lead paint hazards. The amendments (ch. 411) impose a mandatory duty on the Commissioner of Health to give written notice and demand discontinuance of a paint condition conducive to lead poisoning whenever an "area of high risk" has been designated. Previously the determination of whether to issue such a notice and demand was left to the commissioner's discretion. In addition, the amendments made a formal hearing mandatory whenever a landlord failed to comply and placed the evidentiary burden on landlords to establish that a paint condition conducive to lead poisoning does not exist. The formal hearing requirement will likely change in 2018—Governor Cuomo indicated in an approval memo that he had reached an agreement with the Legislature to address his concern that requiring formal hearings could interfere with more effective enforcement mechanisms.

Solid Waste

Several measures signed into law may affect generation of solid waste. One measure (ch. 316) authorizes development of guidelines to encourage school districts and higher education institutions to donate "excess, unused, edible food" to local voluntary food assistance programs. Another bill (ch. 312) requires implementation of recycling programs at state parks, historic sites, and recreational facilities. The governor vetoed a bill (S6750) that would have required chain pharmacies to provide drug disposal collection points but said he was directing DEC to prepare a report on the feasibility of a statewide pharmaceutical stewardship program.

In February, Cuomo signed a bill (ch. 7) preventing a New York City law charging a five-cent fee for "carryout merchandise bags" from taking effect. Cuomo said that plastic bag pollution was a "statewide challenge" warranting a "statewide solution." He established a New York State Plastic Bag Task Force to develop a "uniform and equitable" plan to address the "plastic bag problem." Recommendations were expected by the end of 2017.

Wildlife

Pursuant to the Elephant Protection Act (ch. 333), circuses and other entertainment acts may no longer use elephants beginning in October 2019. Cuomo also signed bills increasing fines and penalties for illegal takings of big game (ch. 408) and directing DEC to prepare a report on deer management techniques to address deer overpopulation in urban and suburban areas (ch. 466).

Regulatory Process

A year after signing a bill increasing the length of notice periods for some environmental regulations from 30 to 45 days, Cuomo signed legislation that requires 60-day notice periods prior to holding public hearings (ch. 455). The new legislation amends not only provisions governing ECL rulemaking processes but also provisions in the state Administrative Procedure Act and the Executive Law that apply more broadly.

Previously published in the New York Law Journal

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

    Disclaimer

    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

    Registration

    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

    Cookies

    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

    Links

    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

    Mail-A-Friend

    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

    Emails

    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .

    Security

    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions