SEQR requires all local, regional, and state government agencies to equally examine the environmental impacts along with the social and economic considerations for a certain project, or action, during their discretionary review. Agencies must follow the multi-step SEQR Decision Process, which requires them to assess the environmental significance of all actions they have the power to approve, fund, or directly assume. If an action consists of multiple phases, sets of activities, or if separate agencies are involved, SEQR requires agencies jointly consider these cumulative impacts during their review. Segmentation of an action into smaller components for an individual review contradicts the intent of the law and may result in legal action. Please see additional guidance and related SEQR forms below.
Who Enforces SEQR?
Each agency is independently responsible to follow the law. NYSDEC holds authority for issuing statewide regulations for the SEQR process and other duties, such as providing informal guidance and resolution of lead agency disputes. However, NYSDEC does not enforce or review the SEQR process by other agencies and cannot provide formal legal opinions about the conduct of SEQR by other agencies. State and local agencies and other interested parties should consult with their own legal counsel for formal interpretations of SEQR law and regulations.
If an agency has made an improper decision or does not follow SEQR, members of the public may take legal action against the deciding agency under Article 78 of the New York State Civil Practice Law and Rules. The NYS court system has a long history of ruling in favor of SEQR compliance and may cancel project approvals and require a new environmental review.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The following actions do not require an environmental impact assessment:
- A proposed action that does not require a discretionary decision from an agency is not subject to SEQR.
- Actions that are classified as Type II under SEQR regulations have already been determined to not significantly impact the environment and do not need further review. See more about Classifying the Action.
The following actions are subject to further review under SEQR and require an environmental impact assessment:
- Type I
To help a lead agency determine significance, environmental impact assessments have been standardized through the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). Agencies must use these forms to comply with the amended SEQR regulations (effective January 1, 2019) - previous versions of the forms will no longer be accepted.
SEQR Determination and Public Participation
The Environmental Assessment Form helps a lead agency to make their SEQR Determination, which will inform their decision to require or prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and whether to hold a public hearing on the proposed action. See more about Determining Significance.
After reviewing the EAF, agencies must prepare either of the following SEQR Determinations:
If an action is determined to not significantly impact the environment.
Conditioned Negative Declaration
If an action is determined to impact the environment, but enforceable conditions can reduce impacts.
If an action is determined to have potential impacts to the environment, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be prepared for public review. Under the SEQR process, the EIS is used to analyze reasonable alternatives to the proposed action and to identify ways to avoid or reduce adverse impacts. See more about Preparing a Draft EIS.
Additionally, SEQR encourages agencies to establish a clear and indisputable record of their decision-making process, including public participation. Under SEQR, the public may take part in:
EAF Part 1 for Applicants/Project Sponsors
Agencies must use these forms to comply with the amended SEQR regulations -- previous versions will no longer be accepted.
Complete Part 1 of the Environmental Assessment Form; please see more about Classifying the Action to determine which version below is correct for the proposed project.
- Short EAF Part 1 (PDF)
For Unlisted actions, except large-scale projects that fall just below Type I thresholds.
- Full EAF Part 1 (PDF)
For all Type I actions; may need the help of a consultant, depending on the size and nature of the proposed project.
The EAF Mapper can also generate a partially completed EAF for applicants/project sponsors -- once a project location is defined, this GIS application will auto-populate several questions on Part 1.
EAF Part 2 & 3 For Lead Agencies
Part 2 & 3 of the EAF must be completed by the lead agency to document the environmental impact assessment and SEQR determination for a proposed action. For help, please see more about the SEQR process and review the EAF Workbooks.