How Environmental Review Can Generate Car-Induced Pollution: A Case Study

14 Sustainable Dev. L. & Pol'y 16 (Winter 2014)

Touro Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 15-08

11 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2014 Last revised: 13 Feb 2015

See all articles by Michael Lewyn

Michael Lewyn

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

The National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) requires federal officials to draft an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) describing the environmental impact of proposed federal actions that significantly affect the environment, as well as analyze the environmental impacts of alternatives to the proposed action. Almost two dozen states have adopted “little NEPA” statutes imposing similar requirements upon state and/or local governments.

This article focuses on one of the strictest little NEPA statutes: New York's State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”). While most little NEPA statutes cover only government projects,SEQRA also covers private sector projects requiring municipal permits. Furthermore, SEQRA requires the government to consider both environmental and social impacts of its actions, unlike NEPA and about half of the existing little NEPA statutes.

This article contends that the stringencies of SEQRA occasionally have harmful environmental consequences because SEQRA can easily be used to delay “infill development” -- that is, development in already-developed areas such as cities and older suburbs. When this occurs, development may shift from older areas to “greenfields,” newer suburbs that tend to be more dependent on automobiles and thus to produce more pollution.

Keywords: SEQRA, development, pollution, environmental impact statement, environmental review, NEPA

Suggested Citation

Lewyn, Michael, How Environmental Review Can Generate Car-Induced Pollution: A Case Study (2014). 14 Sustainable Dev. L. & Pol'y 16 (Winter 2014); Touro Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 15-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2504138

Michael Lewyn (Contact Author)

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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