NYS Disadvantaged Community and Environmental Justice Requirements

by | Apr 30, 2024

New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Chapter 106 of the Laws of 2019 (CLCPA or Climate Act). Portions of this law were written to directly address the impact that climate change is having on what is described as disadvantaged communities (DACs).

Because studies have shown that DACs are disproportionately affected by climate change, New York’s Governor made sure that through equitable distribution of grant funding and tax credits to address climate change, those communities would receive the same consideration as others with more political and financial influence.


How Does the State Define a Disadvantaged Community?

New York defines DACs as communities that bear burdens of negative public health effects, environmental pollution, impacts of climate change, and possess certain socioeconomic criteria, or comprise high concentrations of low- and moderate-income households.

The high-level details of DACs can be found in New York State’s Disadvantaged Communities Barriers and Opportunities Report, which was generated by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and required with the passing of the CLCPA.


How Do Disadvantaged Community Requirements Differ from NYSDEC Environmental Justice Requirements?

DAC requirements are from CLCPA § 7(3). If a proposed project will cause an unmitigated adverse additional disproportional impact to a DAC, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has the legal authority, under CLCPA § 7(3), to deny the project. You can read about these requirements in more detail in Walden’s recent blog here.

Environmental justice requirements are from the NYSDEC Commissioner Policy 29 – Environmental Justice and Permitting. Under this policy, the state made several amendments to the NYSDEC environmental permitting process. These updates include the determination of potential environmental justice areas, conditions for projects in these areas that may be damaging to the environment, and enhanced requirements for public participation and environmental review.

A requirement of this policy is the implementation of public participation plans, which are site-specific programs that better communicate proposed actions to citizens and allow them to play a larger role in the review process. Before they are put into effect, public participation plans must be submitted to and approved by NYSDEC. These plans must include:

  1. Identification of the stakeholders to the proposed action located in a potential environmental justice area;
  2. Distribution and posting of written information on the proposed action and permit review process;
  3. Public information meetings to keep the public informed about the proposed action and permit review status;
  4. Establishment of easily accessible document repositories in or near the potential environmental justice area.

As you can see, New York State is working to advance environmental justice through different laws and regulations that touch the lives of many residents in the state. In an ongoing effort to ensure fairness in shared resources, the governor and state legislators have been paying close attention to proposed and in-progress projects throughout the state. Those that help DACs manage health and social challenges brought on by climate change are likely to receive favorable reviews when grants and other financial incentives are dispersed.

Walden is tracking regulatory changes that are being made in response to New York’s CLCPA and how they will potentially impact our clients. Contact our sustainability team at 516-518-3705 for help with any compliance concerns.

machine guarding, machine guard, manufacturing, machinery, EHS, EH&S, worker safety

Photo by Brendan O’Donnell on Unsplash

Read more about the CLCPA’s DAC requirements and how these will affect solid waste management facilities here. Contact Walden at 516-518-3705 for help navigating climate-related regulatory requirements.