State Environmental Impact Review Laws LittleNEPAs

Many states have their own environmental impact review or environmental planning laws. The impetus for these laws can be traced to passage of NEPA in 1969, discussed in Section 4.1.1. The review and documentation required under these state laws often parallel those required under the federal statute. As a result, these "state equivalents" are often referred to as "little-NEPAs."

In New York, commercial-scale wind projects typically have to prepare an environmental impact statement under the State

Environmental Quality Review Act.



Little-NEPA statutes typically do not result in issuance of a permit, but rather require an investigative process to occur before state and local agencies issue permits. The process generally involves an assessment of the environmental consequences of a project or various aspects of the project. In some states, the little-NEPA may substantively require taking all feasible measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate project impacts. The reports required by the little-NEPA may be drafted by the state or local agency overseeing the review process, or the developer may be required to prepare this information for the agency's review.

In states with this type of legislation, not every project is subject to little-NEPA review. For example, in some states environmental impact review is superseded by the review process applying to energy generation, interconnection, and/or transmission facilities. Elsewhere, however, environmental impact review procedures apply irrespective of any energy specific review. Developers should review the applicable statute and regulations to determine whether their project triggers any of the jurisdictional thresholds or criteria. The potential for adverse impacts associated with the proposed project will likely dictate the extent of environmental review required. For example, siting a commercial-scale wind energy project in or adjacent to protected resource areas may require detailed studies documenting potential impacts and mitigation measures. Such studies can be costly and time-consuming. It is critical for a developer to determine the scope of review to identify those studies reasonably necessary to assess potential impacts.

The Resources section provides a table that identifies states with environmental impact review/environmental planning requirements similar to NEPA, along with the statutory citations and links to the relevant agency websites.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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