On Thursday, June 19, 2014, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (A.6558-B-/S.6617-B). The Act amends the Environmental Conservation Law, Agriculture and Markets Law, and Public Health Law. Among other things, the Act:
- Requires the New York Department of State (DOS), in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to prepare model local laws that consider future climate risks from sea level rise, storm surges, and flooding to help municipalities prepare for extreme weather events and other climate-change related risks.
- Requires DEC, no later than January 1, 2016, to promulgate regulations establishing science-based state sea level rise projections.
- Requires DEC to promulgate rules regulating existing and new petroleum bulk storage facilities that include consideration of climate-change related risks including flooding, storm surges, and rising sea levels.
- Provides funding, subject to appropriation, to municipalities for local waterfront revitalization planning projects that mitigate future climate risks. Projects may include preparation of new local laws, plans, and studies, and construction projects.
- Provides funding on a competitive basis, subject to appropriation, to municipalities or not-for-profits toward the cost of coastal rehabilitation projects that consider future climate risks.
- Allows the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to enter into maintenance and operation agreements for open space land conservation projects in urban areas or metropolitan park projects with municipalities, not-for-profits, and unincorporated associations, if the project demonstrates consideration of climate-change risks.
The legislation implements some of the recommendations made by Governor Cuomo’s NYS 2100 Commission, established following Superstorm Sandy.
The legislation was approved in both houses by wide margins, and had support from a diverse group of stakeholders including: The Nature Conservancy in New York, The New York League of Conservation Voters, The Business Council of New York State, the General Contractors Association, The Reinsurance Association of America, The American Institute of Architects New York State, The Municipal Arts Society of New York, Audubon New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Advocates of New York, and The Adirondack Council.
The New York League of Conservation Voters describes the legislation as “one of the environmental community’s top priorities for this session,” saying passage of the Act is “an important step in preparing the Empire State for a changing climate.”
The Nature Conservancy hails passage of the Act as marking “a transition in New York State from focusing predominantly on reactive disaster relief policies to work to proactively reduce risk and increase community resilience.”