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New York Governor Signs Climate Change Preparedness Bill

On September 22, 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the “Community Risk and Resiliency Act”, which amends several provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) to incorporate consideration of potential climate change impacts, including physical risks due to sea level rise, storm surges and/or flooding, when evaluating projects under a number of existing programs.  The law amends ECL Article 23, also known as New York’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law, in a manner that will prompt the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and applicants for oil and gas well permits to consider the effects of climate change.  One provision within the law requires DEC, in consultation with the Department of State, to prepare guidance on implementing the law’s requirements, including development of “relevant data sets and risk analysis tools and available data predicting the likelihood of future extreme weather events,” by January 1, 2017.  Applications and/or permits received after the adoption of the Department’s guidance must comply with the law.  However, the statute also sets a final effective date of January 1, 2017, indicating that applicants must comply with the law even if the Department has not completed its guidance by that date.