Environmental Quality Review + Historic Preservation

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. 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."

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. 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, January 1, 1996, and January 1, 2019. (Click here for the 2019 revisions)

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.

For More info, please contact:

Erin M. Tobin
Vice President for Policy and Preservation
518.462.5658 ext. 12