DEC Proposes Amendments To SEQRA Regulations, Part Seven: Fee Transparency

Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") proposed amendments to the regulations implementing the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA”), currently codified in 6 NYCRR Part 617. This the seventh post in our series examining the proposed amendments.  The focus of this post is fee transparency.

In addition to substantive alterations to the SEQRA regulations, such as by amending the Type I and II lists, the proposed amendments also address several accounting issues.  One particularly notable change relates to the fee assessment authority of lead agencies.  Currently, a lead agency must provide a cost estimate when it assumes responsibilities for preparing the EIS.  The proposed amendments would change this language to increase transparency.

The proposed amendments require that the lead agency provide, upon request from the project sponsor, “an estimate of the costs for preparing or reviewing the draft EIS.”  The applicant is also entitled, upon request, to receive copies of invoices or work statements prepared by a consultant and submitted to the lead agency for services rendered in preparing or reviewing the EIS.  In explaining its rationale for these amendments, DEC states that “a project sponsor should have the right to receive an estimate of the lead agency’s costs for the review of the EIS along with written documentation to support such fees” as a matter of “fairness and disclosure.”

DEC held a public hearing on the regulations on March 31, 2017.  It will no be accepting comments on the proposed amendments until May 19, 2017. Drafts of the proposed amendments and additional information on submitting comments is available on the DEC website.

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