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Environmental Justice Update: New York Becomes Second State to Require EJ-Focused Cumulative Impact Analysis

Summary

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the "Cumulative Impacts" bill into law, making New York the second state in the US to require an evaluation of "cumulative impacts" impacting specific communities before issuing or renewing an environmental permit. The notion of "Cumulative Impact" study is based on the idea that certain areas are ecologically "overburdened;" a facility that poses no hazard to non-overburdened communities may offer a higher threat to a place where industry is already concentrated. The Cumulative Impacts bill in New York changes the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to require a review of "cumulative impacts" on "disadvantaged communities" before approving or renewing a permit. Facilities operating in these "disadvantaged communities" would be required to file "existing burden reports" comprising information — including baseline environmental monitoring data acquired over the last two years — with certain exclusions for "minor" permits.

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