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February 2009 Archives

February 10, 2009

Welcome to the Environmental Law Section blog!

Welcome to the NYSBA Environmental Law Section blog! We are excited to have this up and running and will be posting items of interest to members of the Environmental Law Section in the coming days. If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at the address below.

Cullen Howe

Fourth Department upholds DEC's decision not to accept property into Brownfields Cleanup Program

On February 6, 2009, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, reversed a trial court and held, by a 3-1 vote, that DEC's decision not to admit Lighthouse Pointe Property Associates, LLC into the Brownfield Cleanup Program was not arbitrary and capricious. The majority cited the recent Court of Appeals' decision in Riverkeeper, Inc. v. Planning Board of the Town of Southeast, 9 N.Y.3d 219 (2008) in holding that "it is not the province of the courts to second-guess a reasoned agency determination or to invade the process by which such a conclusion is reached."

February 13, 2009

Public Service Commission Announces that It Will Consider Utility Proposals for Advanced Meter Infrastructure Projects

On February 12, 2009, the Public Service Commission announced that it would consider utility proposals for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) projects. AMI refers to a metering system that provides customers with price information on an hourly or more frequent basis and that provides for daily or more frequent transmittal of measurements over a communication network to a central collection point. AMI includes the communications hardware and software and associated system and data management software that creates a network between advanced meters and utility business systems and which allows collection and distribution of information to customers and other parties such as competitive retail providers, in addition to providing it to the utility itself. The stored data can be used for time-sensitive rates, load profiling, demand forecasting, outage detection, “smart grid” management, and a variety of other uses. The PSC’s decision establishes minimum functional requirements for AMI in New York. In addition, it creates a process for the development of a generic approach to the benefit/cost analysis of AMI. Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc. (Con Ed), Orange & Rockland Utilities Inc. (Orange & Rockland) and Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. (Central Hudson) had previously filed proposals for pilot programs to test AMI systems. Based on the PSC’s decision, Con Ed, Orange & Rockland and Central Hudson will file updated pilot AMI projects within 60 days. The PSC’s decision will be available at

February 18, 2009

New York City Panel on Climate Change Released Report that Predicts Higher Temperatures and Rising Sea Levels for New York City

On February 17, 2009, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the release of New York City-specific climate change projections developed by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) that show climate change poses real and significant risks to New York City. According to the report, New York City will face higher temperatures and more rapidly rising sea levels, as well as more frequent and intense extreme weather events – like heat waves, heavy rainstorms, and coastal flooding – over the course of the century. The report will be used to inform the actions of the City's Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which was appointed last summer and is made up of City, State, and Federal agencies, regional public authorities and private companies that control critical infrastructure in New York City.

Using global climate models and local information, the New York City Panel on Climate Change projects that by the end of the century New York City's mean annual temperatures projected to increase by 4 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Annual precipitation is also projected to increase by 5 to 10 percent, and sea levels to rise by 12 to 23 inches. Recent evidence, however, including accelerated ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica, suggests that sea levels could rise at a faster rate than projected by the existing models – potentially to 41 to 55 inches by the end of the century. While this “rapid ice-melt” scenario does not have the same level of confidence associated with it as those developed by the global climate models, the NPCC included it in their projections given the large impact it would have on the City should it occur.

The report also projects that extreme events – such as heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts, and coastal flooding – are likely to become more frequent and more intense. In contrast, cold day events, where the temperature drops below freezing, will decrease in frequency. By the end of the century, New York City could experience approximately 2.5 to 4.5 times more days per year over 90 degrees than experienced on average from 1971-2000; approximately 2.5 to 4 times more heat waves (as defined as three consecutive days over 90 degrees) a year than experienced on average from 1971-2000; more frequent, intense rainstorms; a current 1-in-10 year coastal flood about once every 1 to 3 years; and a current 1-in-100 year coastal flood about once every 15 to 35 years.

The NPCC was charged with developing climate change projections for New York City and tools to assist the City’s Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. The first of these tools, the Climate Risk Information Workbook, which contains detailed climate change projections for New York City primarily based on global climate model simulations, was released on February 17. The report will be used by the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which consists of 38 City, State, and federal agencies, regional public authorities, and private companies that operate, maintain and regulate critical infrastructure in New York City. The Task Force, which was also launched in August 2008, is working to identify the risks and opportunities posed by climate change and will release an initial report on its findings and draft adaptation strategies later this year. A copy of the report is available at (New York City Mayor’s Office Press Release February 17, 2009).

February 19, 2009

DEC rolls out Climate Smart Communities Program

This week, DEC rolled out the Climate Smart Communities Program, a component of which is the Climate Smart Community Pledge. The Program is a state and local partnership to encourage climate protection. State agencies collaborating to the program include the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the New York State Department of State and the New York State Public Service Commission.

The Climate Smart Community Pledge is available at

February 25, 2009

New York City Enacts Laws Limiting Engine Idling

On February 10, 2009, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed laws that limit engine idling by non-emergency vehicles to one minute and that broaden enforcement of City anti-idling measures. The first bill (Intro. No. 631-A, 2007), in addition to imposing the one-minute limit near schools, also requires the New York City Environmental Control Board and the City Finance Department to issue annual reports on the number of violations issued and the total value of assessed penalties. The bill further makes knowledge of anti-idling laws a requirement for passing license tests for drivers of taxis and for-hire vehicle. The second bill (Intro. No. 40-A, 2006) provides two New York City agencies--the Parks and Recreation Department and the Sanitation Department--with authority to issue tickets for idling violations. The agencies had previously been assigned that responsibility administratively. Copies of both bills are available at

Renewable energy issues discussed in Obama's speech

Below is a link to an article in the New York Times discussing President Obama's emphasis on renewable energy in his speech to the country last night.

About February 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Envirosphere in February 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.