Today, environmental groups submitted a response to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft policy documents. This will determine how the Department of Environmental Conservation will implement and enforce New York’s leading climate law, The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
DAR-21 and CP-49 are two draft policy documents that propose how the DEC will enforce Section 7(2) (CLCPA), which determines whether new or existing polluting infrastructure is eligible for an air permit. DEC has delayed providing guidance on Section 7(3). This is a key component of the CLCPAs environmental justice regulations. It rejects any proposed action that would have adverse effects on communities already suffering from high levels of pollution or other inequities and prioritizes actions that reduce pollution in these communities.
The DEC recently cited CLCPA as one of the main reasons for denial of permits for two fossil-fuel power plants. This is because the rules apply to all state agency. These will refer to finalized guidance by DEC before evaluating and determining whether a proposed action is consistent with the States Environmental Conservation Law. The current proposal does NOT clarify that the DEC is required to reject applications for infrastructure that will cause an increase in emissions. The organizations argue that DEC should revise the draft policies documents to ensure that the agency upholds the law’s commitment for an equitable phasedown of all greenhouse gases emissions. This is to ensure that the agency prioritizes communities that are most vulnerable.
The CLCPA’s keystone is the mandate to reduce emissions quickly and to prioritize the historical and present impacts of polluting infrastructure on disadvantaged areas. Josh Berman, Senior Associate at Sierra Clubs Environmental Law Program.Sierra Club welcomes comments and urges DEC strengthen DAR-21, CP-49, to better reflect the CLCPA commitment to rapidly scale down greenhouse gas emissions. It also urges DEC strengthen the guidance to clarify that no projects that do not comply with Section 7(3) are allowed in New York.
These policies will guide the DEC’s implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act through agency decisions on permit applications and beyond. It is therefore crucial that the agency makes the right decisions. They must follow a framework that will enable the state to fulfill its promises of a fast and equitable transition towards a zero-emission economy.Hillary Aidun, Associate Attorney at Earthjustice.
For any technical questions or other background, reach out to: Josh Berman, Senior Attorney, Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, [email protected]; Hilary Aidun, Associate Attorney, Earthjustice, [email protected]
CLCPA Section 7.(2) All state agencies must evaluate whether the proposed action is inconsistent or will hinder the achievement of the CLCPA’s emission mandates (40% reduction in GHGs before 2030, 100% zero emissions electric industry by 2040, and 85% reduction by 2050). If an agency finds an action incongruent, it must determine if it is still justifiable and, if so establish mitigation measures.
CLCPA Section 7.3 It is forbidden for state agencies to “disproportionately burden disadvantaged community” when issuing permits or granting approvals, licenses or permits. Agencies must prioritize reducing GHGs, and co-pollutants within disadvantaged communities.