- Introduction to SEQR
- How does SEQR work
- The SEQR Process
- To whom does SEQR apply
- SEQR Related Maps
- SEQR Forms
- SEQR Links
New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR)
(Taken from the NYS DEC Website)
Introduction to SEQR
New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) requires all state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making. For an outline of SEQR’s basic requirement, see Guiding the Process (pdf, 944 kb), an introduction to the fundamentals of applying SEQRA to state and local government decisions.
This means these agencies must assess the environmental significance of all actions they have discretion to approve, fund or directly undertake. SEQR requires the agencies to balance the environmental impacts with social and economic factors when deciding to approve or undertake an “Action”.
(In New York State, most projects or activities proposed by a state agency or unit of local government, and all discretionary approvals (permits) from a NYS agency or unit of local government, require an environmental impact assessment as prescribed by 6 NYCRR Part 617 State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). [Statutory authority: Environmental Conservation Law Sections 3-0301(1)(b), 3-0301(2)(m) and 8-0113].)
How does SEQR work?
If an action is determined not to have significant adverse environmental impacts, a determination of nonsignificance (Negative Declaration) is prepared. If an action is determined to have potentially significant adverse environmental impacts, an “Environmental Impact Statement” (EIS) is required.
The SEQR process uses the EIS to examine ways to avoid or reduce adverse environmental impacts related to a proposed action. This includes an analysis of all reasonable alternatives to the action. The SEQR “decision making process” encourages communication among government agencies, project sponsors and the general public.
The law was implemented by regulations which were fully effective on November 1, 1978 and revised effective June 1, 1987 and January 1, 1996.
[Statutory authority: Environmental Conservation Law Sections 3-0301(1)(b), 3-0301(2)(m) and 8-0113].)
The SEQR Process:
- Follow the SEQR Path – Mapping of the SEQR path
- Step 1. Classifying the Action – The first step in classifying the action is to decide whether it is subject to SEQR
- Step 2. Complete the Correct Environmental Assessment Form – NYSDEC SEQR Process – Step 2 Environmental Assessment
- Step 3: Coordinate Review – NYSDEC SEQR Process – Step 3 Coordinate Review
- Step 4: Determine Significance – The lead agency has 20 calendar days to make its determination of significance
- Optional Step: Scope the Draft EIS – Scoping is the process by which the issues to be addressed in the draft EIS are identified
- Step 5 Preparation of the Draft E.I.S. – The applicant always has the right to prepare the draft EIS. If the applicant refuses to prepare the draft EIS, the lead agency has the option of preparing the draft EIS, having it prepared by a consultant, or terminating its review of the action
- Step 6 Determine the Adequacy of the Draft EIS for Public Review (Accept or Return for Revision) – Upon receipt of a submitted draft EIS, the lead agency has 45 days to determine whether the document is adequate for public review in terms of scope and content
- Step 7: Publish Notice that an EIS is Accepted for Public Review – Publish Notice
- Step 8 Public Comment – The filing of the Notice of Completion of a Draft EIS starts the public comment period
- Step 9 Decide Whether to Hold a Public Hearing – After the lead agency accepts the draft EIS, it must decide whether to hold a public hearing [see 617.9(a)(4)]
- Step 10 Preparation of the Final EIS – The lead agency is responsible for the adequacy and accuracy of the final EIS, regardless of who prepares it
- Step 11 SEQR Findings – Part 617.11 requires that each involved agency must prepare its own written SEQR findings statement, after a final EIS has been filed and before the agency makes a final decision
To whom does SEQR apply?
SEQR applies to all state or local government agencies including districts and special boards and authorities whenever they must approve or fund a privately or publicly sponsored action. It also applies whenever an agency directly undertakes an action. Applicants who seek project approval or funding may be responsible for preparing an EIS.
When actions consist of several steps or sets of activities, the entire set must be considered the action, even if several separate agencies are involved. Segmentation of an action into components for individual review is contrary to the intent of SEQR. No agency involved in the overall action can make a final decision until the SEQR process is completed.
Actions that NEVER require an EIS:
Type II actions
Type II actions listed in the statewide and agency SEQR regulations are determined not to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. Some examples:
- rebuilding or replacement of facilities, inkind, on the same site
- minor structures, such as garages, barns or home swimming pools, routine permit and license renewals with no substantial change in permitted activities
- construct or expand either primary or accessory nonresidential structures in an appropriate zone with less than 4,000 square feet of gross floor space construct or expand a single, two or three family residence on approved lot
- routine activities of educational institutions, including expansions of existing facilities by less than 10,000 square feet
- nondiscretionary (ministerial) approvals
- maintenance and repair activities
- emergency actions
- actions of the New York State Legislature and the Governor or of any court enforcement actions
- actions subject to environmental review under the Adirondack Park Agency or Public Service Laws.
What are the benefits of SEQR?
SEQR benefits the public, agencies and project sponsors in many ways.
The public may:
- participate in scoping the draft EIS
- review SEQR documents and provide comments to agency decision-makers
- participate in SEQR hearings on the environmental impacts of the project
Agencies must: establish a clear, supportable record of the agency’s decision-making.
- Agricultural Districts
- Dryden Environmental Map Service
- Floodzone Map
- National Register of Historic Places
- Stream Classes
- Tompkins County Tax Map
- Zoning Map
State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) Forms
Downloadable SEQR Forms (all PDF files)
Short Environmental Assessment Form (SEAF) (172 KB) (Appendix B to 6 NYCRR 617.20)
Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) (Appendix A to 6 NYCRR 617.20)
SEQR Findings Form (82 KB)
ENB SEQR Notice Publication Form (72 KB)
- The SEQR Cookbook Document developed by the NYS DEC that provides a step-by-step discussion of the basic SEQR process.
- Introduction to SEQR – New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) requires all state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making
- Stepping Through the SEQR Process – Stepping Through the SEQR Process
- What is An “Action” Under SEQR? – What constitutes a SEQR Action
- What is An Environmental Impact Statement? – An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) concisely describes and analyzes a proposed action which may have a significant impact on the environment
- What Are SEQR Type I and Type II Actions? – What is a SEQR Type I and Type II action?
- What is The SEQR Decision Making Process? – SEQR Decision Making Process
- How Does SEQR Work? – Under the requirements of the Uniform Procedures Act, applications for DEC permits cannot be considered complete unless a completed environmental assessment form as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) has been received
- “EIS on the Web” Requirement – A 2005 amendment to SEQR requires every EIS , Draft EIS and Final EIS to be posted on a publicly accessible internet Web site, as of February 26, 2006
- SEQR Handbook – Since it first appeared in March 1982, the SEQR Handbook has been a standard reference book for state, county and local government officials; environmental consultants; attorneys; permit applicants; and the public
- Commissioner Decisions on Lead Agency Disputes – In a coordinated review under SEQR, there are times when the involved agencies are not able to agree which one of them will become the lead agency. When this happens, any of the involved agencies or the project sponsor can request the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation to designate a lead agency.
- Critical Environmental Areas – Local agencies may designate specific geographic areas within their boundaries as “Critical Environmental Areas” (CEAs). State agencies may also designate geographic areas they own, manage or regulate.
- State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) Forms – Short Environmental Assessment Form; Full Environmental Assessment Form; Positive Declaration Form; Negative Declaration Form; Notice of Complete Draft EIS/ Final EIS; Notice of Completion of Draft EIS and Notice of SEQR Hearing
- SEQR Publications – Publications pertaining to State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR)