New York Court Dismisses Suits Seeking to Compel State’s Environmental Impact Statement

By Holly A. Pisanelli

On July 11, 2014, a New York state trial court dismissed two similar cases in which the plaintiffs sought to compel the State to finalize a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“SGEIS”) pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) (Wallach v. N.Y. State Dep’t of Envtl. Conservation, N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 6773-2013; Joint Landowners Coal. of New York Inc. v. Cuomo, N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 843-2014). The court dismissed both suits based on the plaintiffs’ lack of standing after finding that a party raising a SEQRA challenge “must demonstrate that it will suffer an injury that is environmental and not solely economic in nature,” and that in both suits the plaintiffs’ injuries were purely economic. Although a draft version of the SGEIS was first published in September of 2009, a final version has yet to be issued. The delay is due in part to a decision by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to withhold its release of the SGEIS until the state health commissioner issues his findings on hydraulic fracturing.

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