Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Part 492, Climate Smart Community Projects - Regulatory Impact Statement Summary

Regulatory Impact Statement Summary
6 NYCRR Part 492, Climate Smart Community Projects

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Department) proposes to create a new 6 NYCRR Part 492 describing the procedures applicable to "clean vehicle projects" and "climate adaptation and mitigation projects," authorized by Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) §§ 54-1511, 54-1521, and 54-1523. "Clean vehicle projects" include rebates available to municipalities for the purchase or lease of eligible vehicles (up to $5,000 per vehicle), and eligible infrastructure projects which support the public charging and/or fueling of eligible vehicles (up to $250,000 per facility). "Climate adaptation and mitigation projects" include competitive state assistance payments available to municipalities for climate adaptation and mitigation projects (up to $2,000,000) including, but not limited to, natural resiliency measures, nature based mitigation projects, relocation or retrofit of existing facilities due to flooding or sea level rise, greenhouse gas emissions reduction outside the power sector, and climate change adaptation planning and supporting studies.

1. STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The statutory authority to promulgate Part 492 is found in ECL §§ 54-1501, 54-1503, and 54-1521. ECL § 54-1501 defines Climate Smart Community (CSC) projects as, "adaptation and mitigation projects, including flood mitigation and coastal and riparian resiliency, greenhouse gas reductions outside the power sector and climate change adaptation planning, and clean vehicle projects."

ECL§ 54-1503 authorizes the Commissioner to undertake Climate Smart Community (CSC) Projects and ECL § 54-1521 requires the Department, in consultation with NYSERDA, to promulgate rules to implement this title.

2. LEGISLATIVE OBJECTIVES

ECL § 54-1503 authorizes the Commissioner to undertake CSC Projects and ECL § 54-1521(4) requires the Department, in consultation with NYSERDA, to promulgate rules to implement this title, including regarding the procedures and guidelines for claiming rebates for clean vehicle projects. According to the 2016 Regular Session Law Chapter 58, Part U, §8, the Commissioner is authorized to issue rebates through a request for proposal, "until January 1, 2018 or such time as regulations are adopted pursuant to section 54-1521 of the environmental conservation law, whichever is sooner." Similarly, ECL § 54-1511(4) specifically requires the Department to promulgate rules regarding climate adaptation and mitigation projects. Pursuant to the 2016 Regular Session Law Chapter 58, Part U, § 8, the Department is authorized to provide state assistance to municipalities for climate adaptation and mitigation projects through requests for proposals, "until January 1, 2018 or such time as regulations are adopted pursuant to section 54-1511 of the environmental conservation law, whichever is sooner." Therefore, consistent with the directives set forth in the legislation, the Department is seeking to promulgate rules and regulations to govern municipal eligibility, application review, and technical criteria for both types of CSC projects by January 1, 2018.

The Department proposes to create a new 6 NYCRR Part 492 covering both "clean vehicle projects" and "climate adaptation and mitigation projects," authorized by ECL § 54-1521 and ECL § 54-1523, respectively. These regulations will provide municipalities with criteria governing the program as described in ECL § 54-1511. For FY 2016/17, the Department implemented CSC projects through the Grants Gateway and NYS Consolidated Funding Application pursuant to ECL, 2016 Sess. Laws of N.Y., Chapter 58, Part U, §8. The Department has evaluated the results of the initial round to inform the development of these proposed regulations.

3. NEEDS AND BENEFITS

In 2015, Governor Cuomo signed the Under 2 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), an agreement among states, provinces and cities worldwide affirming their collective commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent by 2050. To help achieve this goal, New York set an aggressive target to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets were confirmed by Executive Order 166 on June 1, 2017, which stated, "[i]t is the policy of the State of New York to reduce GHG emissions by forty percent by 2030, and eighty percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, across all emitting activities of the economy."

The programs covered under this regulation provide funding for municipalities to support actions that provide public benefits related to environmental quality, emergency preparedness, economic health, and social resilience. These regulations are required by statute, and the programs covered help advance progress towards the greenhouse gas reduction targets and climate resiliency goals identified by Governor Cuomo. These regulations are intended to provide clarity and certainty, and to encourage the application for and issuance of CSC grants.

Clean Vehicle Projects

The transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, currently accounting for 34% of the state's total GHG emissions. The clean vehicle rebate program covered by Part 492 provides funding to increase both the number of clean vehicles in municipal fleets (up to $5,000 per vehicle based on the electric range of the vehicle), as well as publicly accessible clean vehicle charging and refueling infrastructure (up to $250,000 per facility), vital to meeting New York's GHG emission reduction goals in the transportation sector.

Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Projects

NYSERDA's ClimAID assessment (2011, 2014) projects a wide range of impacts local governments in New York State will face as the climate changes. Average temperatures are projected to increase 4 - 10°F by 2100. Precipitation is also projected to increase, occur with greater variability year-to-year, and occur more frequently in the form of downpours. These climatic changes will bring greater risks as a result of flooding, extreme heat, exacerbation of respiratory conditions, and the introduction of new disease vectors and pests, among other hazards. Sea level is also projected to rise across New York's coastal area by up to 6 feet by 2100, increasing risks from flooding and storm surge.

The climate adaptation and mitigation projects covered by Part 492 are defined at ECL § 54-1523(1)(a)-(g), and cover a wide range of municipal activities including natural resiliency measures and conservation or restoration of riparian and tidal marsh migration areas; relocation or retrofit of facilities to address sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding; flood risk reduction; greenhouse gas emission reductions outside the power sector; and certification under the Climate Smart Communities program. The new Title 15 EPF program targets both climate adaptation and mitigation (greenhouse gas reduction) activities, and provides the Department with the ability to make awards based solely on climate benefit.

4. COSTS

Part 492 will not impose any costs on any entity because the regulation is a voluntary funding program and does not impose any standards or compliance obligations. Therefore, there are no costs associated with Part 492. Likewise, the regulation will not impose any additional costs on the Department or local government entities.

5. PAPERWORK

The proposed rule is not expected to create any significant increase in the amount of required paperwork necessary to apply for state assistance through Title 15 of the Environmental Protection Fund.

6. LOCAL GOVERNMENT MANDATES

The proposed rule does not create any local government mandates. The programs are voluntary grant programs.

7. DUPLICATION

This proposal is not intended to duplicate any state or federal regulations or statutes. The final rule will conform to the requirements of the ECL.

8. ALTERNATIVES

There is no legal alternative to this rulemaking because it is required by legislation. Therefore, there is no "no action" alternative available to the Department. The department will, however, continually evaluate the success of the program and may change future Request for Applications to reflect shifts in available funding, State priorities, available technologies and best practices, and climate conditions.

9. FEDERAL STANDARDS

There are currently no federal standards that apply to Title 15 of the Environmental Protection Fund.

10. COMPLIANCE SCHEDULE

Due to legislative mandate, Part 492 should be promulgated by January 1, 2018. Applicants will be required to comply with the effective date of the rule.