US EPA Approves 2013 Amendments to Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquires

Environmental Law

 

On December 30, 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) took direct final action to amend the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiry (“AAI”) Rule regarding ASTM International’s E1527-13 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process,” 78 Fed. Reg. 79319 (Dec. 30, 2013). This final rule allows for the use of E1527-13 to satisfy the requirements for conducting AAI under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). Further, EPA intends to remove all reference to ASTM E1527-05 in the AAI rule and recommends that all environmental professionals and prospective purchasers use the ASTM E1527-13 standard.

EPA had originally issued a direct final rule on August 15, 2013, however the rule was withdrawn after EPA received negative comments during the public comment period. Simultaneous with the issuance of the direct final rule, EPA had also issued a proposed rule to amend the Standards and Practices. EPA then relied on this proposed rule to respond to comments and proceed to this final rule.

AAI is a process of evaluating a property’s environmental conditions and assessing whether any contamination exists. A purchaser of potentially contaminated property must follow prescribed AAI standards and practices in order to receive the liability protections under Section 101(35) of CERCLA for bona fide prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners, or innocent landowners, as set forth in the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalizations Act (the “Brownfield Amendments”). The Brownfield Amendments require EPA to develop regulations establishing standards and practices for AAI. EPA issued a Final Rule (40 C.F.R. § 312) establishing standards and practices for conducting AAI in November 2005.  Under the 2005 Final Rule, Bona fide prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners, and innocent landowners could either conduct Phase I environmental site assessments pursuant to the AAI Final Rule or, alternatively, by complying with two ASTM standards recognized as equivalent to the AAI Final Rule: ASTM E1527-05, “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process,” and ASTM E2247-08, “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessments for Forestland or Rural Property.”

ASTM E1527-13 is the latest replacement option for bona fide prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners, and innocent landowners to use. This Phase I environmental standard updates its 2005 predecessor by clarifying and revising definitions of Recognized Environmental Condition (“REC”), Historical Recognized Environmental Condition (“HREC”), and Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (“CREC”). The most notable updates concern the revised definition of “migrate/migration” to specifically include vapor migration. This change now makes it necessary for environmental professionals to identify as a REC a release that migrates onto a subject property via a vapor pathway.

Further, guidance was added to ASTM E1527-13 at section 8.2.2, Regulatory Agency File and Records Review. The new standard for file and record review recommends that environmental professionals make efforts to review and document the validity of information taken from searches of agency databases. The goal is to increase validity in Phase I ESA reports. Because this new standard is more comprehensive than its predecessor and represents the current industry standard, prospective purchasers and users can be more confident in the ESA results. 

Although the final rule approving ASTM E1527-13 does not explicitly supersede or replace ASTM E1527-05, EPA strongly recommends that entities use the ASTM E1527-13 standard for the purposes of CERCLA landowner protections. EPA notes, however, that “[i]n the near future, EPA intends to publish a proposed rulemaking to remove the reference to ASTM E1527-05 standard in the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule.” EPA’s intent is clear: “to promote the use of the current industry standard and reduce confusion associated with the regulatory reference to a standard no longer recognized as current by ASTM International and no longer marketed by the standards development organization as reflecting its current consensus-based standard.”

Although the updated standards provide a more comprehensive assessment of environmental site history and conditions, complying with E1527-13 may be more costly and may increase the time needed to complete an ESA report than under E1527-05. However, the benefits will likely outweigh the possible increased cost. This new standard will provide a more comprehensive review of the historical environmental conditions at a property as well as risk of vapor migration and intrusion. A potential purchaser and user of the report will now have more confidence in the ESA report.

Although ASTM E1527-05 has not yet been removed as a standard to conduct AAI, it is not recommended that environmental professionals continue to use this standard. An environmental professional could face claims of professional negligence because EPA has clearly indicated that E1527-13 is now the current industry standard. Therefore, if a consultant fails to conduct an assessment of the real or potential occurrence of vapor migration and vapor release at a property, and such was later discovered, that consultant could face liability. For many environmental professionals, this change will not result in any material difference in the manner in which they conduct their Phase I ESAs. Nevertheless, all environmental consultants should review the new standards carefully and ensure their reports reflect the additional requirements.

This direct final rule became effective on December 30, 2013. Prospective purchasers and environmental professionals should now use ASTM E1527-13 in conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessments to comply with the AAI rule and to be eligible to claim limitations on CERCLA liability in conjunction with a property purchase.

For more information on the new ASTM E1527-13 or liability protections under CERCLA, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani

New York Green Bank to Kickstart Clean Energy Investment

Environmental Law

 

The State of New York wants to jump start investment in clean energy projects.

In Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2013 State of the State address, he proposed the New York Green Bank (“NY Green Bank”), a financing mechanism to spur private sector investment in “commercially-proven energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean technologies.”

On December 19, 2013, the New York Public Service Commission (“PSC”) approved $165 million in funding of the NY Green Bank. This funding was combined with $45 million previously allocated to it from emission allowance sales under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) and created an initial $210 million reserve to achieve the Bank’s objectives.

The NY Green Bank will not operate like your typical bank; you won’t be able to make deposits or get a free water bottle when you open an account. Rather, the NY Green Bank will partner with “financial institutions and industry participants such as energy service companies, developers and equipment manufacturers to support economically viable clean energy projects.”

The State realized that the current system of providing subsidies and grants to incentivize clean energy was not working. New York State entities spend approximately $1.4 billion annually towards clean energy development and implementation, yet despite this level of spending, clean energy goals were not being reached. That model was not sustainable. The hope is that this one is.

The NY Green Bank will leverage private capital to finance its initial investments, and once those investments mature, the capital will be returned to the bank to be reinvested in other new clean energy projects. There are many “economic and creditworthy” renewable energy projects throughout New York that cannot get the financing. Several barriers prohibit private sector capital from flowing to these projects, namely “federal policy uncertainty, the absence of standardized contracts and underwriting criteria, and limited loan repayment and project performance data.”

To overcome these barriers, the NY Green Bank will operate with the following objectives:

  1. To enhance total market participation by providing credit support and/or aggregation mechanisms designed to scale clean energy generation and energy efficiency projects.
  2. To partner, rather than compete, with market intermediaries — such as project developers, energy service companies, or financial institutions—that are already making progress in the market, but where that progress is constrained by the lack of availability of reasonably priced financing.
  3. To leverage both the capital and institutional capabilities of its private sector partners.
  4. To not be in the subsidy business, but rather will earn a return on investments to preserve and grow its capital base, recycling that capital into new clean energy projects when its initial investments mature, ultimately creating a fully self-sustaining $1B support system for the clean energy finance market.[1]

 

With the establishment of the NY Green Bank, New York has set itself up to compete in the renewable energy future and to attract cleantech and sustainable energy projects to the Empire State. The NY Green Bank compliments New York’s other clean energy objectives, such as the New York Renewable Portfolio Standard which is New York’s goal to reach 30% renewable energy supply by 2015.

A positive sustainability loop has been created for renewable energy in New York. As these programs boost finance and development of clean energy projects throughout the state, there will be real short and long-term benefits for the economy and environment; our dependence on fossil fuels are reduced, jobs are created, air quality is improved, consumer energy bills are reduced, and our energy system as a whole is more resilient. New York’s energy future appears to be very bright.

The NY Green Bank expects to begin engaging potential partners in January 2014.

For more information on clean energy investment and the New York Green Bank, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.


[1] New York Green Bank, Summary, Available at http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/GBBackgrounder91013.pdf.

Posted by Miriam Villani

SCOTUS to Hear Question on EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Stationary Sources

Environmental Law

 

The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) has agreed to hear arguments on a narrow question concerning the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources such as oil refineries and power-generating facilities. In the seminal case Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), the Court held that carbon was a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The Court further held that pursuant to Clean Air Act § 202(a)(1), the Agency was required to regulate motor vehicle emissions if it found that such emissions endangered the public health and welfare. In 2009, the EPA made its Endangerment Finding determining that greenhouse gases endangered the health and welfare of Americans and, pursuant to this finding, the EPA enacted standards for motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. However, the issue now is whether the EPA’s authority to regulate motor vehicle emissions gives it the right to regulate stationary-source emissions. This issue stems from the EPA’s issuance of the “Timing Rule,” which determined that EPA’s authority to regulate motor vehicles triggered its authority to regulate stationary sources through permit programs under the Act. The Court is only reviewing this narrow issue and not revisiting the scientific underpinning of climate change and whether carbon is a pollutant. Both industry leaders and environmentalists are content with this review, though for very different reasons. Those representing industry are encouraged by this decision hoping that the Court will reign in EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Environmentalists are glad that the Court is only reviewing a very limited question and it is their belief that no matter the decision, it will not have a significant impact on the EPA’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Arguments will be heard in early 2014.

For more information on greenhouse gas emission standards and EPA regulatory authority, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani

NYSDEC Finalizes Environmental Audit Incentive Policy

Environmental Law

 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) has finalized its Environmental Audit Incentive Policy. The Policy, which becomes effective November 18, 2013, encourages regulated entities to self-audit their operations and facilities with the goal of improving compliance with environmental laws and regulations, and protecting public health and the environment. After gathering comments and insight from business leaders, government officials, and other stakeholders over the past year, NYSDEC’s final policy invites eligible entities to review and investigate their current business practices and adopt internal approaches, including environmental management systems and pollution prevention, to prevent environmental violations.

The Policy provides NYSDEC with authority to reduce or waive civil penalties for violations when regulated entities discover violations through their internal audit and voluntarily disclose their findings to NYSDEC. Further, as NYSDEC states in its Policy, “[t]his Policy also identifies incentives for regulated entities to go ‘beyond compliance’ by agreeing to evaluate and incorporate environmental management and pollution prevention into their systems.”

The establishment of this Policy in no way limits the NYSDEC’s authority to regulate, inspect, and enforce the environmental laws of New York State and NYSDEC will continue its effort to protect human health and the environment. This Policy incentivizes entities for being proactive and taking affirmative steps to ensure environmental compliance. Many entities within the regulated community have already developed and implemented environmental management systems, and “[t]his Policy supports those efforts and encourages widespread use.”

The final policy does not apply to every entity and for every environmental violation. NYSDEC narrowly tailored its policy to only apply to eligible entities[1], for eligible violations[2], who notify NYSDEC in writing of the violation within 30 days from discovery[3] (or other time frame established as part of an environmental audit agreement). 

Voluntarily disclosing a violation is only one part of the process. Once NYSDEC is notified of the violation, the eligible entity must then “correct all disclosed violations expeditiously, consistent with any applicable time frame and protocol prescribed by law and regulation, and as may be directed by the Department in writing.”  The Department expects the violation to be corrected within 60 days of notification.

The benefits and incentives for complying with the policy are not unsubstantial. Typically, civil penalties for environmental violations include “an amount representing the gravity of the violation and an amount equal to the economic benefit of delayed compliance.”[4] For those eligible entities that voluntarily disclose violations, pursuant to this Policy, NYSDEC will waive the gravity component. For eligible entities that engage in environmental audits or have an environmental management system as part of its ordinary course of business, NYSDEC will further reduce the penalties, including reduction of the economic benefit component. Eligible entities that enter into formal audit agreements and make long-term commitment to an environmental management program are provided the highest level of incentives.

This Policy serves two necessary functions. First, NYSDEC does not have the resources or manpower to inspect, investigate, and fine every regulated facility in violation of New York State environmental law and regulations and this self-audit policy removes that heavy burden from the Department and enables the regulated community to go “beyond compliance” and be rewarded for it. Second, the Policy will lead to immediate response to environmental violations, assisting in the ultimate goal of further protections to human health and the environment.

While cynicism may remain in critics who foresee regulated entities taking advantage of the NYSDEC policy by only reporting minor violations to mask larger environmental issues, the overall consensus among both environmental groups and business leaders is that this policy creates public and private sector cooperation that will lead to environmental stewardship through efficient and cost-effective practices.

For more information on NYSDEC’s Environmental Incentive Audit Policy and environmental issues in business operations, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.


[1] Entities will not be eligible if, within the past five years, they received a Notice of Violation, Environmental Conservation Appearance Ticket, Notice of Hearing and Complaint, or an administrative or judicial order, and were uncooperative in remedying past violations. The Department defines uncooperativeness as including “failing to respond to Department correspondence, or failing to take good faith steps to remedy violations….” See NYSDEC, Commissioner Policy 59 – Environmental Audit Incentive Policy (Oct. 16, 2013) http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93791.html.

[2] Eligible violations include “violations of New York State law and regulations discovered by an eligible regulated entity through an environmental audit, or discovered by the Department, its contractors, or other state, federal or local government agencies during pollution prevention or compliance assistance.” A full list of violations excluded from eligibility under the Policy can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93791.html.

[3] “A regulated entity is deemed to have discovered the violation when any officer, director, employee, or agent of the facility knows or has reason to believe that a violation has, or may have, occurred.” See NYSDEC, Commissioner Policy 59 – Environmental Audit Incentive Policy (Oct. 16, 2013) http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93791.html.

[4] See id.

Posted by Miriam Villani

Suffolk County Finally Putting Land Bank to Good Use

Environmental Law

 

The Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation (“SCLBC”) had not undertaken any activities pursuant to its mission since its creation in March 2012, until now. The mission of the SCLBC is to take control and redevelop vacant and abandoned properties, many of which are environmentally contaminated.

The SCLBC, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”), is assessing four eastern Long Island brownfield sites in an effort to remediate the contamination at the properties and return them to the tax rolls. Suffolk County is taking advantage of the USEPA’s Targeted Brownfields Assessment (“TBA”) program which assists eligible entities in minimizing uncertainty of contamination at brownfield sites. Through the TBA program, the USEPA contracts directly with environmental professionals to conduct environmental assessment activities to address the eligible entity’s needs.

 The four sites selected are: 70 Moffitt Boulevard in Bay Shore, in tax arrears since 2006; 95 Eads Street in West Babylon, in tax arrears since 1998; 1600 5th Avenue in Bay Shore, in tax arrears since 1996; and 156 Grant Avenue in Islip, in tax arrears since 1991.

In a press release announcing this collaboration, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone stated, “[t]his partnership allows us to take an important first step to redevelop abandoned and polluted brownfield properties that are blights on our local communities. We will continue to explore both private and public opportunities to clean-up and remediate dilapidated properties in our neighborhoods and the Land Bank will form the backbone of these efforts.”

Pursuant to the TBA program, these four properties will be assessed by a USEPA contractor, and the assessment will include a historical investigation and a preliminary site inspection to determine whether environmental contamination exists. Since contamination almost certainly exists at these selected properties, a more in-depth Phase II Environmental Site Assessment will be conducted. The Phase II will include the sampling of soil and groundwater to determine the location and extent of the environmental contamination.

Suffolk County, not satisfied with redeveloping only these four properties, has announced its intention to apply for a $1.2 million grant from the New York State Attorney General Land Bank Community Revitalization fund. With 133 properties within Suffolk County considered potential brownfield redevelopment sites, this additional funding would allow the SCLBC to support more environmental assessments with the USEPA TBA program, and begin transferring these sites to the land bank.

 Suffolk County and the SCLBC are finally acting on its mission set forth over a year ago, to assess and redevelop environmentally contaminated properties and return these properties to the tax roll. The potential here is huge, and not just from an environmental or a financial perspective, but for overall community improvement and growth. The redevelopment of these blighted properties could be a rising tide that will lift all boats. But alas, nothing in the environmental sector happens immediately. We must continue to monitor the SCLBC and see what progress is made in the coming year. But it is hard not to be optimistic about the future benefits of the land bank and its collaboration with the USEPA.

For more information on the use of municipal land banks and brownfield redevelopment, please contact Miriam Villani and Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani

New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination Site Listed on NYSDEC Inactive Hazardous Waste Site Registry

Environmental Law

 

On June 18, 2013, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) added the New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination Site (the “Site”) to its Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. The Site was classified as a Class 2 site because it presents a significant threat to public health and the environment. The Site was first listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) on its National Priorities List (“NPL”) in 2011. New York State Environmental Conservation Law § 27-1301(2) requires NYSDEC to list all NPL sites within the state on its Registry.

The New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination Site is located within the Towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York and involves volatile organic compound (“VOC”) contamination of the groundwater. The primary contaminants of concern in the underlying aquifer are tetrachloroethene (“PCE”) and trichloroethene (“TCE”) which are chemicals used in paints, solvents, cleaners, automotive products, and dry cleaning fluids. The presence of these VOCs in the groundwater is a result of waste discharges by multiple current and past industrial and commercial facilities located in the vast area of Nassau County that makes up the Site.

The major concern is to the public health because the groundwater underlying the Site is the sole source aquifer for the public water supply. Several of the local public supply wells have been found to have TCE and PCE concentrations above the Maximum Contaminant Level (“MCL”). Water is being treated by engineered controls to remove contaminants prior to distribution to the public, however, a significant threat to public health remains due to the potential for contaminants in the groundwater to reach public supply wells that do not have the necessary treatment systems in place.

Currently, EPA and NYSDEC are working in concert to monitor and investigate the Site. EPA is reviewing and analyzing data generated from the monitoring of the public supply wells and formulating a comprehensive strategy for future investigation and remediation. NYSDEC continues to monitor and maintain all activities currently in place. Property owners adjacent to the Site or renting or leasing property near the Site should be aware of this classification and ensure their drinking water is being treated. Further, current and past owners and operators of industrial and commercial facilities within the Site area that have used, stored, or disposed of VOCs should keep abreast of the investigation and the status of steps being taken by the government agencies, which are likely to seek out potentially responsible parties to undertake and/or fund the investigation and remediation of the Site.

For more information on this Site and on groundwater contamination and inactive hazardous waste site classification, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani

Tenants Can Now Obtain Protection from CERCLA Liability

Environmental Law

 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) created new guidance relieving tenants who lease currently or formerly contaminated property of certain liabilities as long as they satisfy specified requirements. The December 5, 2012 Guidance Document titled “Revised Enforcement Guidance Regarding the Treatment of Tenants Under the CERCLA Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser Provision” adds to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) liability protection under Section 107(r) for parties that qualify as bona fide prospective purchasers (“BFPP”).

Under the guidance, a tenant can itself qualify as a BFPP or piggy-back on the BFPP status of the property owner. If the property owner loses BFPP status, at no fault of the tenant, the tenant may be able to maintain its BFPP status as long as it meets the following criteria:

     1. All disposal of hazardous substances at the facility occurred prior to execution of the lease;

     2. The tenant conducted All Appropriate Inquiry (“AAI”) prior to execution of the lease;

     3. The tenant provides legally required notices;

     4. The tenant takes reasonable steps with respect to hazardous substance releases;

     5. The tenant provides cooperation, assistance, and access;

     6. The tenant complies with land use restrictions and institutional controls;

     7. The tenant complies with information request and administrative subpoenas;

     8. The tenant is not potentially liable for response costs at the facility or “affiliated” with any such person (other than through the lease with the owner); and

     9. The tenant does not impede any response action or natural resource restoration.      

Although this guidance is not law, it is intended to assist USEPA personnel in exercising the Agency’s enforcement discretion. The USEPA intends to apply this guidance on a site-specific basis only to the extent appropriate based on the facts regarding the property, however it “is not a rule and it does not create new liabilities or limit or expand obligations under any federal, state, tribal, or local law. It is not intended to and does not create any substantive or procedural rights for any person at law or in equity.”[1]

Under section IV of the guidance, the EPA generally will not be involved with facility-specific transactions or determinations of BFPP status. As a general rule, tenants should be wary of environmental conditions at a property prior to entering into a lease, but should take some comfort in this USEPA guidance as long as the tenant meets the criteria for BFPP status.

For more information on CERCLA liability protections for tenants and BFPP status requirements, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.


[1] USEPA, Revised Enforcement Guidance Regarding the Treatment of Tenants Under the CERCLA Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser Provision, at 2.

Posted by Miriam Villani

The Evaluation of Building and Zoning Ordinances in the Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy

Environmental Law

 

It is unclear how many more severe weather events will destroy and devastate our coasts before comprehensive action is taken to prevent catastrophic damage. Superstorm Sandy was the most serious of these recent events. It provided a warning that if nothing changes, the nearly 400 miles of Long Island coastline will continue to be ravaged and its residents displaced. And, with sea-level rise projected to be 2 to 5 inches by the end of this decade, the damage could be ever-more severe. While this storm caused great loss, it also provided an opportunity. The current land use, zoning, and environmental laws and policies which regulate development in coastal areas should be scrutinized and changed in consideration of the potential environmental impacts.

While the long-term solution to ending extreme weather events may rest with the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the anthropogenic effect on climate change, the immediate impacts of storms like Sandy can be mitigated by the enactment and amendment of local land-use and planning laws and regulations.

In 2010, the Long Island Regional Planning Council published a report titled, Sustainable Strategies for Long Island 2035. This report outlines recommendations and sustainable measures for residents, businesses, and municipalities to adopt and enable Long Island to have a prosperous economic and environmentally sustainable future. In identifying the short-term and long-term risks associated with climate change, the Council recommended the revision of building codes in the coastal communities of Long Island, including the City of Long Beach, Town of Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Babylon, Islip, South Hampton, East Hampton, and Shelter Island.

In addition to building codes, changes to local zoning ordinances are necessary in these environmentally-vulnerable areas, however, these land-use law changes must be consistent with the local comprehensive plan. Before a municipality can make a change to its zoning ordinance based on concerns over sea-level rise or other environmental circumstances, express language concerning climate change and other environmental-related risks must be added to the comprehensive plan to ensure that all amendments and changes to the law on this basis will be consistent with the plan. New York State agencies and municipalities must look to integrate adaptive planning into the Plan for the projected effects of climate change and provide for changes to land-use planning ordinances. 

In 2007, the New York State legislature created the Sea Level Rise Task Force to assess impacts to the State’s coastlines from rising seas and recommend protective and adaptive measures. In a final report issued in December 2010, the Task Force made recommendations to discourage development in vulnerable coastal areas as well as to update the state and local building codes to address the impacts associated with sea level rise, coastal storms, and coastal flooding. Suggested changes include increasing setbacks to require structures be set back on a lot as far landward or upland as feasible, or limiting the size and height of structures to allow only for smaller structures that can be more easily relocated and put fewer people at risk. For vulnerable coastal areas, municipalities could downzone permitted uses by limiting development and redevelopment of critical facilities in these areas or require that more intense uses obtain special use permits.

In the aftermath of Sandy, FEMA has released updated flood maps for ten counties in New York and New Jersey. FEMA expects to release new flood maps for New York City and Westchester early this year. With the on-going changes to our coastal zones and floodplains, now is the time to develop robust and flexible land-use regulations to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate.

For more information on land-use and zoning regulations in response to sea-level rise, and on local municipalities’ efforts to adapt to climate change, please contact Miriam Villani, Michael Sahn, or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani