The Environmental Conservation Law
The law that established DEC and authorizes its programs is called Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). The ECL and its subsequent amendments are passed by the NYS legislature to protect the public health and safety. DEC implements and enforces this law. The full text of New York's ECL is found on the New York State Legislative Information System; select "ENV Environmental Conservation" from the Consolidated Laws list to access the full text of the ECL.
While the ECL established DEC and authorizes its programs, it is made up of broad provisions that need to be defined and made explicit. DEC accomplishes this by drafting, promulgating and enforcing its environmental regulations. DEC presents proposed regulations for public comment, a process that may include public hearings.
DEC's regulations are found within Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR). Title 6 is divided into 10 Chapters, listed on our regulations page. Follow those links for a breakdown of Parts within each Chapter.
DEC's Guidance and Policies
Guidance documents and policies provide interpretations of rules and regulations. Most guidance documents offer details about how to comply, and along with formal policies provide a uniform basis for compliance and enforcement across the state.
Enforcing the Rules and Protecting the Public and Environment
DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Forest Rangers protect New York's natural resources and people and are at the forefront of enforcing environmental laws.
Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs)
ECOs are sworn Police Officers authorized to enforce all state laws, with special emphasis on enforcing New York's Environmental Conservation Laws, including those relating to environmental quality, hunting, fishing and trapping and protection of natural resources.