Orange County Partnership calls on Gov. Cuomo to amend SEQRA

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:20

    The Orange County Partnership, the external marketing agency for the economic development of Orange County, has sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggesting two straightforward amendments to the State Environmental Quality Review Act regulations that would neither weaken nor shortchange the environmental protections currently provided by the law. In New York State, all government approvals and permits require an environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. It requires the approving governmental body to identify and mitigate the significant environmental impacts of the activity it is permitting. The process can often take at least 18 months or more to complete. As it currently exists, there is no way to calculate, with any certainty, the time and cost of going through the process. This uncertainty in the approval process has been a decisive factor when companies take their business opportunities outside New York State. The first proposed amendment would simplify the draft environmental impact statement process, providing a clear path to obtain public comment, a key milestone in the approval process. The second proposed amendment would require that the final environmental impact statement be adopted within six months of the close of the public hearing if further study is warranted, or within two months if no further studies are needed. Neither of these amendments would diminish the broad authority under State Environmental Quality Review Act to evaluate any and all significant adverse environmental impacts. That authority would remain unchanged and adopting these amendments would only require a regulatory rule-making by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Orange County Partnership has proposed these amendments to Governor Cuomo in the spirit of seeking ways to make New York competitive again. Maureen Halahan, President and CEO Orange County Partnership