Enforcing Environmental Laws
The body of law that established DEC and authorizes its programs is called Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). The full text of New York's ECL is found on the New York State Legislative Information System (leaves DEC website); select "ENV Environmental Conservation" from the Consolidated Laws list to access the full text of the ECL.
The DEC enforces environmental laws through a number of means, including traditional police-type law enforcement, as well as administrative and civil actions. To be effective, state enforcement personnel and policies must work in concert with their local and federal counterparts, and citizens must be kept informed and involved.
At the forefront of enforcing environmental law are DEC's Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) and Forest Rangers.
Through law enforcement, education and public outreach ECOs protect the environment, our natural resources, and the people of the State of New York. All the while, DEC's Forest Rangers are responsible for the preservation, protection, and enhancement of the state's forest resources-in addition to the well-being of those who use those resources.
If you have a situation where an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger is needed, call the Department's Public Protection Dispatch Center at 1-877-457-5680. You can also report an environmental violation online.
Compliance and Recovery
Through compliance inspection reviews and with regulatory and technical knowledge, DEC's regional enforcement coordination efforts ensure the enforcement process is handled in a timely and appropriate manner. DEC will enter into legally binding agreements, called Orders on Consent, with parties that have violated environmental laws or regulations. These agreements typically entail a fine and/or a Schedule of Compliance, which outlines actions that parties must undertake to remedy any given violation(s).
DEC is also authorized to assess injuries to natural resources and seek damages to restore those resources from responsible parties. Recovered damages are used to restore the injured natural resources and compensate the public.
More about Enforcing Environmental Laws:
- Environmental Conservation Police Officers - About New York State's Environmental Conservation Police Officers
- Forest Rangers - Forest rangers protect public and private forest lands and the people who use these lands.
- Regional Enforcement Coordination - Regional Enforcement Coordination's principle charge is to act as a liaison between the Office of General Counsel and the various Department programs, as well as external parties, to ensure the enforcement process, and any subsequent requisite corrective and/or remedial action, is handled and completed in a timely and appropriate manner.
- Enforcement Related Links - Links to helpful external web pages germane to enforcement
- Region 2 (NYC) Enforcement Actions - List of enforcement actions in New York City
- Region 4 Enforcement Actions - Region 4 Enforcement Actions
- Guide to Enforcement Hearings - This guide was written to help you understand the enforcement hearing procedure used by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It explains the hearing process from when the charges are made to the Decision by the Commissioner. While this guide is helpful to understanding the hearing process, it does not substitute for the legal rules governing the hearing.
- Guide to Enforcement Hearings in Spanish - This guide was written to help you understand the enforcement hearing procedure used by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It explains the hearing process from when the charges are made to the Decision by the Commissioner. While this guide is helpful to understanding the hearing process, it does not substitute for the legal rules governing the hearing.
- Natural Resource Damages (NRD) - Several state and federal laws authorize DEC to assess injuries to natural resources and seek damages to restore those resources.