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A01779 Summary:

COSPNSRRosenthal L, Colton, Otis, Galef, Mosley, Hunter, Gottfried, Thiele, De La Rosa, Williams, Weprin, Glick, D'Urso, Crespo, Fahy, Fernandez, Reyes, Cruz, Aubry, Barron, Steck
Add §3-0308, En Con L
Identifies the criteria the commissioner of environmental conservation should consider in publishing a list of high local environmental impact zones; provides that high local environmental impact zones are areas most adversely affected by existing environmental hazards.
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A01779 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
SPONSOR: Peoples-Stokes
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to high local environmental impact communities   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to publish a list of those areas in the State that are most adversely affected by existing environmental hazards.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill adds a new § 3-0308 to the Environmental Conserva- tion Law requiring DEC to publish a list of "high local environmental impact zones", which are defined as those areas of the State which are most adversely impacted by existing environmental hazards. The analysis of environmental burdens experienced in various areas will be based on the best information available (i.e., at the level of census tract, census block group or nine-digit zip code) to allow more precise target- ing of high local impact zones wherever practicable. The biennial list will include zones that exist in whole or part in at least 5% of the zip codes in the state. In compiling this list, DEC must consider numerous potentially adverse environmental impacts within each zip code or area, including: *releases of toxic chemicals and petroleum discharges; *emissions, discharges and stored waste authorized by permit; *the amount of pesticides sold and used; *the number of bodies of water determined by DEC to be impaired; *the presence of inactive hazardous waste disposal sites; and *whether the area has been designated as nonattainment for one of more pollutants pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act. DEC will be required to publish the listing every two years, together with a report identifying the factors considered and how those factors were weighed in compiling the list.   JUSTIFICATION: The siting of projects with potential adverse environmental impacts is a complex and difficult process. Local residents are never in favor of having such projects located in their communities, and thus government decision makers must undertake a difficult balancing of competing inter- ests in order to select the most appropriate location for the project. Historically, geographical areas with existing environmental hazards have frequently been selected for the placement of new projects, presum- ably due to the belief that the "incremental" adverse impact would be less in such an area than in a "pristine" area with no existing environ- mental problems. Unfortunately, this process can lead to a concentration of environmental hazards within a small geographical area, and a concom- itant increased risk to residents of those areas. Residents of communities with a high presence of environmental pollution are frequently disproportionately afflicted with associated health prob- lems, and there is widespread recognition that such communities are disproportionately populated by persons of low income and/or persons of color. This bill seeks to address this problem by requiring DEC to identify "high local environmental impact zones", which are defined as those areas of the State that are most adversely impacted by existing environ- mental hazards. The need for consideration of such cumulative impacts has been recognized at the federal level, where the EPA has established a principle of "fair treatment" in environmental decision making, as mandated by President Clinton's 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice. This bill will help to ensure that New York State similarly recognizes the existence of such overburdened communities, and that future siting decisions are made only after considering the potential adverse impacts on these communities. There is no current statutory requirement for the identification of areas that are most adversely impacted by existing environmental hazards. Nevertheless, most of the information that DEC is required to consider in compiling the list of "high local environmental impact zones" under this bill is already available to DEC pursuant to existing provision of state and federal law.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.8489 of 2009/2010; A.611 of 2011/2012; A.3729 of 2013/2014; A.3382 of 2015/2016; A.1862 of 2017/2018.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: To be determined.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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