Environment Committee Alert

Contact: Darren Suarez
December 7, 2011

Environment Committee Meeting

The next meeting of The Business Council’s Environment Committee will be Monday, January 23 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (new time) at the Albany Crowne Plaza.

At the meeting, Senator Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney have been invited to discuss 2012 environmental legislative matters.  

Additionally, there will be a discussion of the Environment Committee's priority issues for the upcoming legislative session and an update on ongoing administrative action by Department of Environmental Conservation.

Please feel free to contact me with any specific suggestions for agenda items.

Testimony on Chemical Registry

On December 5, 2011, The Business Council provided testimony at a Public Hearing held jointly by the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, Health, and Consumer Affairs and Protection.  The hearing was to examine issues related to the regulation of toxic chemicals in children's products.  

The Business Council testimony recommended that “States should be cautious in their approach to the regulation of chemicals. Hasty approaches to the regulation of chemicals in New York are likely to prove costly, provided limited value, and create deadweight loss.”

New York Works Infrastructure Fund: To Support Environmental Infrastructure

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to a plan creating New York’s first infrastructure fund to inject over $1 billion in job creating investment. The accelerated state funding will leverage $10 billion in direct capital investment to create thousands of direct jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges; parks, dams and flood control projects; upgrading water systems and educational facilities; and investing in energy efficient improvements to commercial and residential buildings. The plan will focus on projects that support regional Economic Development Plans in the transportation, energy, environment and public facilities sectors. The accelerated infrastructure fund investment is within the state’s debt ceiling.

Specific investments undertaken by the New York Works Infrastructure Fund include replacing deficient state and local bridges in every region of the state, rehabilitating dams and flood control infrastructure, renovating parks, rebuilding water systems, conducting energy retrofits on homes, farms, businesses, and schools, as well as accelerating major SUNY and CUNY projects.

The Governor and the legislative leaders agreed on proposing legislation that will permit the New York Works Infrastructure Fund to bid the design and construction of infrastructure projects as a single contract, reducing costs and improving construction time.

Financing for the infrastructure fund would be provided through advancing capital investment and the creation of a public/private infrastructure fund. $700 million in state capital investments would be front loaded to increase job and economic impact by moving up capital projects planned for 2013 to 2012 wherever possible. An additional $300 million from the Port Authority would be directed towards funding for infrastructure projects in New York City. A new public/private infrastructure fund would raise up to $1 billion from pension funds and private investment.

DEC Extends Comment Period

The public comment period on proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing has been extended from December 12, 2011 to January 11, 2012. The public was given the extra month to comment on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s 1,500-page environmental review and proposed regulations on the practice known as hydrofracking. 

Senate to Hold Hearing on Hydrofracturing

Senators Grisanti and Gallivan announced an upcoming hearing to discuss hydrofracking’s impact on area water resources. The hearing will be held at the Inn on the Lake, 770 South Main Street, Canandaigua, New York, Ontario County on Monday, December 12 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Part 201

The Business Council will prepare comments upon the scope of proposed 6 NYCRR Part 201, Permits and Registrations amendments. Many members of The Business Council attended meetings hosted by the DEC on the proposed changes. Following those meetings interest was expressed in TBC providing comments. Members interested in expressing an opinion about the amendments should contact Darren Suarez; he will be preparing The Business Council's response.

Water Withdrawal

Three public information meetings will be held regarding the upcoming changes to water withdrawal regulations found in 6 NYCRR Parts 601 and 621.

The purpose of Part 601 is to regulate the use of New York's water resources pursuant to the ECL by implementing a permitting, registration and reporting program for water withdrawals equaling or exceeding a threshold volume of 100,000 gallons per day. This Part also implements New York's commitment under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact to create a regulatory program for water withdrawals in the Great Lakes Basin.

There are several statutory exemptions to the permit requirement. The proposed regulations add more exemptions.

For existing water withdrawal systems that are not exempt and that are above the size threshold as of February 15, 2012, an 'initial permit' process is provided, which is somewhat less costly and time-consuming than the standard permit process and provides additional time to comply depending on the capacity of the water withdrawal system. To take advantage of the initial permit process, existing withdrawals must be properly reported by February 15, 2012.

Informational meetings will held as follows:

Date: December 8, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: West Henrietta Fire Training Center (Station 6)
  60 Erie Station Road Extension
  West Henrietta, NY
Date: December 12, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: NYS DEC Central Office
  Room 129A, 625 Broadway
  Albany, NY

Best Available Retrofit Technology for Heavy Duty Vehicles

Proposed rulemaking documents for 6 NYCRR Part 248, Use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel and Best Available Retrofit Technology for Heavy Duty Vehicles were filed with the Department of State on November 28, 2011. The DEC is scheduling hearings in January on the proposed rules.