New York Adopts Nation’s Strongest Environmental Justice Law
Michael B. Gerrard and Edward McTiernan
On March 3, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the strongest environmental justice (EJ) law in the United States. While federal guidelines and the laws of some other states — notably California, Massachusetts, and Washington — require analysis, disclosure and consideration of EJ issues, only a New Jersey law adopted in 2020 imposed substantive limitations, as we discussed in our May 12, 2021, column. New York’s new law—building on enactments in 2019 and 2020 — is even more restrictive.
The new law — which we’ll call the EJL — provides that the Department of Environmental Conservation(DEC) “shall not issue an applicable permit for a new project if it determines that the project will cause or contribute more than a de minimis amount of pollution to a disproportionate pollution burden on the disadvantaged community.” Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Sec. 70-0118.