The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently published proposed amendments to the Part 617 environmental review regulations. The text of the amendments as well as the generic environmental impact statement assessing the impact of the proposed amendments can be found on the NYSDEC website. Public comments on the regulations are being accepted until May 19, 2017.
The basic thrust of the regulations is to “streamline the process without sacrificing meaningful environmental review.” Anyone with experience in the area knows that the process needs streamlining. Among the areas addressed are additional categories of Type II actions (actions that do not require an impact statement) and new provisions regarding deadlines.
Interested parties should review the proposal let their voice be heard. Anything that can streamline the process should be welcome. It is possible, however, that the regulations are not the primary reason that the process needs to be streamlined. Local government officials who oppose projects use the SEQRA process to delay and add to the cost of projects. Therefore, in all likelihood, well intended regulatory change is likely to have little real impact on the process.