On June 28, 2012, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation announced that new or expanding electric power plants will be required to conduct a comprehensive environmental justice (EJ) analysis before receiving state approval. See, 6 NYCRR Part 487 (see p. 7 at http://www.dos.ny.gov/info/register/2012/jun27/pdfs/rules.pdf) The newly adopted rule takes effect in 30 days and requires applicants to evaluate a number of issues during the siting process for new or expanded facilities, including whether the facility would have a disproportionate adverse impact on certain communities. The requirements cover new facilities or expansions generating at least 25 megawatts of power.
The new rule also requires that EJ studies include an analysis of the cumulative impact on air quality; the demographic, economic, and physical description of the community; and the significant disproportionate adverse environmental impacts. Applicants must also include plans to offset or minimize any significant impacts.
According to the regulatory impact statement that accompanied the regulation the intent “is to promote the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in facility siting by requiring a heightened analysis of environmental impacts and additional protections against significant and adverse disproportionate environmental impacts in low-income and/or minority EJ areas, which have historically been overburdened by the adverse environmental and public health impacts of industrial facilities. Accordingly, the proposed regulations require, in EJ areas only, a heightened analysis of environmental impacts and additional protections against significant and adverse disproportionate environmental impacts.’’