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Empire Center think tank calls environmental reviews costly

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
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ALBANY — The Empire Center for Public Policy says New York's process for environmental reviews has dragged for years on several valuable projects and should be overhauled with fixed timetables.

In a report released Monday, the fiscally conservative think tank says State Environmental Quality Review Act decisions should take no more than 300 days, with a project's environmental issues identified early, and the 1975 law's reference to effects on "existing neighborhood and community character" eliminated.

Noting the state Department of Environmental Conservation is already considering rule changes, Empire Center president E.J. McMahon says those don't go far enough, and the so-called SEQR (SEEK-er) adds unnecessary red tape to existing protections and land-use laws.

The report cites projects delayed in Niagara, Suffolk, Westchester, Greene and Monroe counties.

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