The SEQR Handbook Is Changing–Here’s Why That Matters

January 24, 2019

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is proposing significant revisions to its handbook on the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR).

The SEQR Handbook, as it is commonly known, is the standard reference book on SEQR, often consulted and utilized by attorneys, local government officials, environmental consultants, and permit applicants.

The SEQR Handbook first was published in 1982. It was updated in a second edition a decade later, and a third edition was published electronically in 2010. Since then, the NYSDEC has made a variety of minor updates to the electronic edition.

The draft of the forthcoming fourth edition of the SEQR Handbook replaces the previous editions and contains a variety of important changes to the third edition. Of greatest interest is that the proposed new edition reflects the 2018 amendments to the SEQR regulations, available at 6 NYCRR Part 617, that became effective on Jan. 1, 2019. These amendments are the first major amendments to the SEQR regulations that the NYSDEC has made in over two decades. The draft SEQR Handbook also contains summaries of important court decisions, which is a handy reference for practitioners when challenging or defending SEQR determinations.

This column highlights the most noteworthy proposed modifications to the SEQR Handbook in three specific areas—Type II actions, Type I actions, and scoping—and explains their practical significance.

Charlotte A. Biblow, a partner in the environmental, land use and municipal law and litigation departments of Farrell Fritz, can be reached at cbiblow@farrellfritz.com. Reprinted with permission from New York Law Journal, Thursday, January 24, 2019, Vol 261 – No. 16.

View the PDF

  • Related Practice Areas: Environmental, Land Use & Municipal
  • Publications: New York Law Journal