MAS Calls for Green House Gas Emission Analysis in SEQRA
April 21st, 2009, 9:17 pm
In honor of Earth Day, MAS has released a study that details a suggested framework for analyzing climate change, and enables New York State to evaluate and address the potential climate change impact of different actions in land-use, energy and industrial transportation, and other issues. In order to fight climate change, it is critical that we reduce green house gases (GHG). Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency formally declared six green house gasses to be pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. The MAS study concludes that the state has the ability to require far-reaching environmental review that can substantially advance efforts to reduce GHG. Meaningful environmental review can greatly assist governmental agencies and the public in understanding the climate change consequences of an action, while helping to address the resulting impacts. “Climate change is a global challenge and New Yorkers have the responsibility to aggressively reduce GHG emissions and prepare for the changes in air temperature, sea level, and precipitation, and the massive implications of those changes, to human and natural environments,” said Vin Cipolla, President of the Municipal Art Society. “New York is making great strides to reduce the state’s GHG emissions, but more solutions can and should be pursued to drastically reduce its contribution to global climate change.” MAS convened a group of experts, led by Professor Michael Gerrard, the former General Counsel of MAS and currently a professor and Director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, to identify a method for analyzing climate change in an EIS under SEQRA.MAS produced the study to facilitate public discussion regarding the best way to analyze climate change in New York. “While global climate change is the most significant environmental issue of our time, it has, to this point, been largely ignored in most analyses under SEQRA and City Environmental Quality Review,” said Michael B. Gerrard.“New York State should join Massachusetts, California and Washington and use this tool to protect the environment.” Specifically, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has the authority and mandate under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to require an environmental impact study (EIS) analysis for the following inquiries:
- How will an action’s life-cycle GHG emissions affect climate change?
- And, how can a project’s adverse impact be minimized?
- How will climate change affect the project?
- And, how can a project best anticipate and prepare for the effects of climate change?