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Government Affairs Albany Update

April 22, 2005

EJ Grants
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky

Governor Pataki's Executive Budget proposal included funds to make grants to community groups who wanted to intervene in environmental permit reviews based on "environmental justice concerns." Under this proposal, $500,000 would have been made available for FY 06, for grants of up to $25,000 per permit action. This proposal was not adopted by the Legislature. Instead, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, legislation authorizing "community impact research grants." The specific bill language is provided below. Unlike the Governor's proposal, this program is not specific to "environmental justice" concerns (i.e., disproportionate impacts on minority/low income communities), and is not related to permit-specific reviews. DEC has yet to issue any further details on how this grants program will be administered.

A.555-C (Budget) page 73, lines 18 thru 40

For community impact research grants. Such grants shall be in an amount of up to $25,000 for community groups for projects that address a community's exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks. Such projects shall include studies to investigate the environment, economy and public health of the community. Projects shall be of a research nature that will be used to expand the knowledge or understanding of the affected community. The results of the investigation shall be disseminated to members of the affected community. Community groups eligible for funding shall be located in the same area as the environmental and/or public health problems to be addressed by the project. Such groups shall be primarily focused on addressing the environmental and/or public health problems of the residents of the affected community and shall be comprised primarily of members of the affected community ....$500,000

Vaper Intrusion Guidance
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky

The Department of Health has announced a one-month extension for the public comment period on their proposed "Vapor Intrusion" technical guidance document. This policy proposal provides the state and responsible parties with guidance on how and when to investigate and mitigate vapor intrusion impacts. Vapor intrusion refers to adverse indoor air impacts caused by vapors emanating from contaminated soils and/or groundwater, and could result in mandatory abatement actions including additional site cleanup, installation of vapor mitigation systems in industrial, commercial and residential buildings, and the possibility of civil damage claims. This is an emerging issue in the field of environmental remediation, and New York and other states, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are developing response plans. The Business Council's Environment Committee has an active Vapor Intrusion Work Group, which has developed extensive draft comments on the DoH policy document. Key concerns include: overly broad mitigation triggers; mandatory provisions inconsistent with guidance; lack of a step-wise, tiered approach to vapor intrusion assessments; failure to recognize an OHSA preemption for all occupational exposures and others. Information on the DoH's proposal are available online at www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/gas/svi_guidance/.

If you would like to participate on the work group, and/or provide input to our comment-development process, please contact Ken Pokalsky at your earliest convenience.

Independent System Operator Releases Power Trends 2005

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) released its annual state-of-the-grid report this week, confirming that New York State should have enough energy to meet its needs this summer, but warning about potential downstate supply deficiencies in the near future.The report recommends, among other things, that the Legislature re-enact the Article X siting law. Without this streamlined permitting process, the NYISO contends that it will be very difficult for new generation to be built in a timely manner to meet future needs. The report states that "in order to have sufficient in-state generation, New York State needs to site significant generation additions, commencing immediately, to meet its capacity requirements between the years 2008 and 2011."

The report further urges that an effective fuel-diversity strategy be developed to deal with the increasing dependence on and dwindling domestic supply of natural gas.

The report can be found on the NYISO's web site at:
www.nyiso.com/topics/articles/news_releases/2005/ptrends 2005.pdf

Chapter Amendment

The Chapter Amendment -- S.4271 -- to the Budget omnibus revenue bill [Chapter 61, nee S.3671] signed into Law on April 13, 2005 was given Chapter number 63.

Energy Panel - Government Law Center Breakfast

The Government Law Center of the Albany Law School will be conducting a panel entitled "Energy Infrastructure: New York's Engine for Growth" at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 in the Assembly Parlor, 3rd Floor of the State Capitol in Albany. The event is part of the Warren Anderson Legislative breakfast Seminar Series, and is accredited for one hour of nontransitional CLE credit in the area of "Professional Practice".

Panelists include:

The panel will be moderated by Howard Shapiro, President and CEO of the Energy Association of New York State. The program is free of charge, but space is limited, so you must call the Government Law Center at (518)445-3259 to register.