The Business Council opposes S.4618/A.3279, which would confer standing on private citizens to bring suits in response to alleged violations of the environmental quality review provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law.
The bill states that an individual “shall not be denied standing solely on the grounds that the injury alleged by such person does not differ in kind or degree from the injury that would be suffered by the public at large.”
Our opposition to this legislation is that it is contrary to a recent opinion of the state’s highest court.
Since this legislation was introduced the New York State Court of Appeals has held in the Save the Pine Bush, Inc. v. Common Council of the City of Albany decision issued on October 27, 2009, that “a person who can prove that he or she uses and enjoys a natural resource more than most other members of the public has standing under the State Environmental Quality Review Act to challenge government actions that threaten that resource.”
We believe that this legislation should reflect the Court of Appeals decision by adding the following language, taken directly from the first paragraph of the Court’s decision: “provided that such person can prove that he or she uses and enjoys the natural resource more than most other members of the public.” By adding this clause, the legislation would effectively codify the Court of Appeals’ recent decision, and also obviate potential confusion that could arise from courts attempting to interpret the impact of the proposed bill and the Save the Pine Bush decision upon each other.
For the reasons discussed above, The Business Council strongly recommends that S.4618/A.3279 be amended to reflect the ruling of the Court of Appeals.