The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) recently issued its final policy on Assessing Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Environmental Impact Statements, dated July 15, 2009 (the “Policy”), a draft of which was released for public review and comment in March 2009 (the “March 2009 Draft”). The Policy applies to DEC staff review of environmental impact statements (“EISs”) when DEC is the lead or involved agency under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) and energy use or greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions have either been identified as significant impacts in the positive declaration or are required to be analyzed in an EIS as a result of scoping.
The Policy requires the analysis of direct and indirect emissions from both stationary and mobile sources and provides guidance as to how such emissions should be quantified. It provides specific guidance for assessing methane emissions from landfills, emissions from waste generation and building energy use. The Policy requires the analysis of GHG emissions of alternatives evaluated in the EIS. It also requires an assessment of the GHG reductions possible through the implementation of mitigation measures (including those that are considered and rejected). The Policy specifies that preference is be given to on-site mitigation measures and sets forth a number of examples in the following categories: building design and operation measures, efficiency or mitigation measures for on-site GHG sources, site selection and design measures, transportation measures and waste reduction or management measures.
Multiple commentors requested that DEC provide guidance as to when a proposed project’s impacts should be considered “significant”. DEC declined to do so, noting in its response to comments that “the Policy merely provides methodologies for assessing GHG and energy use” and referring project proponents to the Environmental Assessment Form (“EAF”), which is being revised to include questions regarding energy use and GHGs, as a tool for determining significance.
The Policy and DEC’s responses to the comments received on the March 2009 Draft are available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/56552.html.
 The EAF is an Appendix to the SEQRA regulations; accordingly, such revisions will be the subject of a formal rulemaking process.