DEC Adopts Regulation Establishing Sea-Level Rise Projections for New York

By Sahana Rao

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) recently announced the final adoption of a regulation establishing science-based sea-level rise projections for New York’s tidal coast. The regulation, which implements the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (“CRRA”) of 2014, was first proposed in late 2015 and was revised in late 2016. The final regulation can now be found at 6 NYCRR Part 490.

The CRRA requires DEC to adopt sea-level rise projections for the state. The projections adopted in this regulation are meant to help governmental entities, business owners, and planners incorporate climate resiliency into future planning endeavors. As described in a previous post, the regulation includes a range of projections for three separate regions: Long Island, New York City/Lower Hudson, and Mid-Hudson. Projections are provided over several time periods, starting from the 2020s and ending at the year 2100, and reflect various potential rates of sea-level rise. These sea-level rise projections must be considered in applications for certain permit and funding programs specified in the CRRA. However, the projections will not affect federal flood insurance rate maps and do not independently create any specific new design standards or permit requirements.

The CRRA requires applicants for certain types of permits or funding to incorporate consideration of these projections, and future physical climate risk more broadly, into their applications. Permit programs identified in the CRRA include those pertaining to oil and natural gas wells, mined land reclamation, and both freshwater and tidal wetlands. The CRRA also applies to requests for funding from various programs, including those dealing with landfill closure assistance, coastal rehabilitation project assistance, and local waterfront revitalization. The CRRA’s requirements for applications under these funding and permit programs went into effect on January 1, 2017, meaning that the requirement to consider these sea-level rise projections (originally slated for finalization in 2016) is effective immediately. Additionally, in accordance with the CRRA, DEC is in the process of formulating guidance for implementation of the Act. This guidance, known as the State Flood Risk Management Guidance, will contain tools to be used in the analyses of climate change impacts required under the Act.

For more information about the CRRA and the impacts of climate change on coastal landowners and regulated entities, please contact Michael Bogin, Katherine Ghilain, or Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz.