Environment Committee Alert
January 5, 2012

Contact: Darren Suarez

State of the State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, in Albany outlined his priorities for this year in his State of the State (SOS) address on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. The full address can be found on the governor’s office’s Web site.

The Governor did not address hydraulic fracturing in his public address but did include a section in the written document on hydraulic fracturing in the Southern Tier. The State of the State contains an update on the review of the impact of proposed gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing including a discussion of the public participation. The document states the “DEC is reviewing all the comments and expects the final environmental impact study and the advisory panel’s recommendations to be released in 2012, before any decisions are made on how to proceed.”

DEC Proposes Regulations to Meet the Power NY Act of 2011 Requirements

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing to adopt a new 6 NYCRR Part 251, CO2 Performance Standards for Major Electric Generating Facilities, and revisions to 6 NYCRR Part 200, General Provisions. The proposed Part 251 will establish carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for new major electric generating facilities (defined as facilities that have a generating capacity of at least 25 megawatts (MW)), and for increases in capacity of at least 25 MW at existing electric generating facilities. The revisions to Part 200 incorporate references to federal rules.

The DEC also proposes to adopt a new Part 487, Analyzing Environmental Justice Issues in Siting of Major Electric Generating FacilitiesPursuant to Public Service Law Article 10. The proposed Part 487 will establish the regulatory framework for undertaking an analysis of environmental justice issues associated with the siting of a major electric generating facility, including the evaluation of significant and adverse disproportionate environmental impacts, if any, which may result from the facility’s construction or operation.

Hearings for the proposed regulations described above will be held as follows and are scheduled in places that are reasonably accessible to persons with impaired mobility:

DEC will conduct a public information session regarding Part 487 for one hour prior to each of the public hearings listed in this Notice. During these sessions, DEC staff will entertain questions from the public concerning Part 487 only. Each public information session will commence at 2:00 p.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. These sessions are intended to be informal and will not be part of the official hearing record. Any comments that the public wishes to be included in the record should be submitted during the official public hearing, or by mail or email at the address listed below.

Water Withdrawal

The DEC will be accepting comments on the changes to water withdrawal regulations found in 6 NYCRR Parts 601 and 621 until January 22, 2012. The Business Council will be developing comments based upon membership input.

The proposed water withdrawal regulations will repeal the existing 6 NYCRR Part 601 entirely and adopt a new Part 601. These regulations seek to harmonize elements of the existing Part 601 with the water withdrawal bill (A.5318-A/ S.3798) signed into law by Governor Cuomo on August 15, 2011.

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.

Best Available Retrofit Technology for Heavy Duty Vehicles Hearings

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 has announced that they will hold joint legislative public hearings on:

a) proposed amendments to 6 NYCRR Part 248, Use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel and Best Available Retrofit Technology for Heavy Duty Vehicles;

b) proposed amendments to 6 NYCRR Part 219, Incinerators; and attendant revisions to 6 NYCRR, Part 200, General Provisions; and

c) proposed infrastructure assessment for the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for lead as part of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision.