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A06282 Summary:

COSPNSRThiele, Mosley, Galef, Sepulveda, Ortiz, Rosenthal L, Walker, Gottfried, Abinanti, De La Rosa, Williams, Jaffee, Glick
MLTSPNSRBuchwald, Ramos, Skartados
Amd 24-0105, 24-0107, 24-0301, 24-0701, 24-0703, 24-0901 & 24-0903, rpld 24-1305, En Con L
Relates to the definition of freshwater wetlands; repeals section relating to the applicability of the freshwater wetlands article; provides authority of DEC over wetlands which are one acre or more; amends permitting requirements for subdivision of land.
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A06282 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
SPONSOR: Englebright
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to freshwater wetlands and repealing section 24-1305 of such law relating thereto   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To provide the Department of Environmental Conservation with regulatory authority over freshwater wetlands of one acre or more in size and other wetlands of significant local importance.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section one of this bill amends § 24-0105 of the Environmental Conserva- tion Law (ECL) to revise and add to the list of benefits derived from wetlands. Section two of the bill amends § 24-0107 of the ECL to amend the defi- nition of "freshwater wetland" to include wetlands that are one acre or more in size or adjacent to a water body or of significant local impor- tance. This section also amends subdivision two of § 24-0107 of the ECL to indicate that DEC's "freshwater wetlands map" shall not serve as the basis for regulation by the Department and shall be only educational in purpose. Section three of the bill amends § 24-0301 of the ECL to specify the substantive and procedural requirements for the freshwater wetlands map. Section four of the bill amends § 24-0701 of the ECL to specify the permitting requirements for freshwater wetlands, including the require- ment for a wetlands permit for the subdivision of land. Section five of the bill amends § 24-0703 of the ECL to specify the requirements for DEC to respond to requests for determination of wetland status. Section six of the bill amends § 24-0901 of the ECL to remove reference to the wetlands map in relation to consultations with local governments. Section seven of the bill amends § 24-0903 of the ECL to remove refer- ence to the wetlands map in relation to the DEC determination of compat- ible land uses. Section eight of the bill repeals § 24-1305 of the ECL.   JUSTIFICATION: Wetlands improve drinking water quality by providing a buffer zone to intercept polluted runoff before it contaminates our lakes, rivers and coastal waters. Wetlands act as natural water filters, absorbing pollu- tants, pesticides, nitrogen, phosphorus and other contaminants before they infiltrate our drinking water. Additionally, wetlands absorb flood waters and serve as buffers during storms, saving billions of dollars in property damage annually. In a closely divided 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal government no longer has jurisdiction over isolated wetlands. With the Supreme Court ruling in SWANCC, estimates from the EPA and Corps of Engineers show at least 20 percent and possibly 50 percent of existing wetlands, constituting millions of acres nationwide, will be left unprotected. In New York State, estimates are even higher. While a number of states (including all the northeastern States) already have the regulatory authority to step in and regulate the wetlands that Corps of Engineers formerly oversaw, New York's DEC is currently limited to regulating mapped wetlands of a size greater than 12.4 acres. If we do not protect New York's wetlands, we jeopardize our drinking water and property values. This legislation gives DEC the regulatory authority necessary to protect New York's wetlands by eliminating the mapping and reducing the size limitations on DEC's regulatory authority over wetlands.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2016: A.9764 (Englebright) - Reported to Ways and Means 2011: A.3374 (Sweeney) - Passed the Assembly.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: None noted.   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
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