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Basics

CEQR Basics

The information below provides a basic understanding of what CEQR is, when it is triggered, what an applicant needs to do to get started with CEQR, and how the public may be involved with a CEQR review.

What is CEQR?
As mandated by the State Environmental Quality Review Act, CEQR is the process by which New York City agencies determine what effect, if any, a discretionary action they approve may have upon the environment.  CEQR is a disclosure process and not an approval process in and of itself.  Completion of an environmental review supports other decisions made by agencies such as approvals of rezoning or variance applications, funding, or issuance of discretionary permits.  Ministerial actions, such as the issuance of a building permit, are not subject to environmental review.

What triggers a CEQR Review?
A project may need certain discretionary actions or approvals by one or more city, state, or federal agencies before it can start. An action may be initiated by the City or proposed by private applicants for approval by a city agency. To determine whether a project needs to be reviewed under CEQR, ask the following:

  • Does the project need discretionary approvals or permits from any city agency?
  • Does the project need city funding?
  • Is the project being directly undertaken by a city agency?

If the answer is YES to any of these questions, a project needs to undergo a CEQR review. If state or federal funding or approvals are also needed, a project must comply with the requirements of SEQRA and NEPA, respectively. The lead agency is primarily responsible for the review and assists the applicant through this process. To learn more, please see the CEQR Technical Manual.

How does a review get started?
To get started an applicant or agency needs to have the following:

  • A defined proposed project; and
  • A list of city, state, or federal approvals, permits, or funding, if any, that are necessary to complete the project (this list helps determine whether the project needs CEQR review and, if so, how extensive the review must be and helps determine an appropriate lead agency).

What type of review is needed under CEQR?
The necessary level of review depends on the type of action(s), as defined by state rules, to be approved, funded, or undertaken by a city agency. To determine the appropriate level of review, determine the following:

  • Is the action considered a Type II Action?
    • If YES, then no further CEQR review is needed.
  • Is the action considered a Type I Action?
    • If YES, then complete the Full EAS Form.
  • Is the action considered an Unlisted action?
    • If YES, then complete either the Short EAS Form or the Full EAS Form.

What is the CEQR Process?
To help understand the overall steps CEQR reviews may take from beginning to end, click on this CEQR process diagram to enlarge it.

CEQR Process

Can the public participate in an environmental review?
Public participation in the environmental review process is important because it provides a different perspective from project proponents and agencies in examining potential environmental effects.  Valuable information may be provided by people who live and work in areas of proposed projects. New York City encourages all interested parties to participate in the environmental review process.

What is a Public Comment Period?
Public comment periods are mandated by state and city rules at certain steps of the environmental review process.  Such comment periods provide the public, agencies, and other interested parties the opportunity to provide input into the process for specific reviews.  For example, substantive comments on a draft scope of work may focus the issues and analysis topics to be included in the  draft EIS, the methodologies for analysis (such as the size of a study area, the type of data to be gathered, or the type of analysis to be conducted), the alternatives to the proposed project, and any special conditions or concerns that the lead agency should consider.

What opportunities are there to participate in CEQR reviews?
Opportunities for public participation, review and comment are listed below.

For reviews resulting in a Conditional Negative Declaration (CND):

  1. After a CND is published, the public has 30 days to review the Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) and the CND and to submit comments on their substance.   When the public comment period concludes, the lead agency may decide that either:
    1. A CND is not appropriate based on comments received and further review is required.  A Positive Declaration is then issued requiring the preparation of  an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
    2. No further review is required and the CND is issued.  

For reviews resulting in a Positive Declaration (Pos Dec):

  1. Public Comment Period (for draft Scope of Work): When the lead agency issues a draft Scope of Work (the document that outlines the extent of what will be analyzed in the EIS and how such analyses will be conducted), the public may comment on the substance of the scope.  This comment period begins when the draft scope is issued, includes a public scoping meeting (discussed below), and extends for a minimum of 10 days after this meeting.  These comments are then taken into account in developing the final scope of work for the Draft EIS.
  2. Public Scoping Meeting: As part of the public comment period for the draft Scope of Work for an EIS, a public scoping meeting is held not less than thirty (30) nor more than forty-five (45) days after the draft scope of work is published and notice of the meeting is provided.

The chart below illustrates the CEQR draft Scope of Work & Public Scoping Meeting process.

CEQR Draft Scope & Publich Scoping Meeting Process

  1. Public Comment Period (for DEIS): When the lead agency issues a draft EIS (DEIS), the public may comment on its substance.  The comment period begins with the issuance of the DEIS and Notice of Completion, includes a required public hearing on the DEIS (discussed below), and extends for a minimum of 10 days after this meeting.  Comments received are then taken into account before issuing the final EIS (FEIS).
  2. Public Hearing: As part of the public comment for the DEIS, a public hearing on the DEIS is held not less than fifteen (15) calendar days nor more than sixty (60) calendar days after the completion and filing of the DEIS to allow the public the opportunity to provide comment on the DEIS.  If a project is going through another review process, such as ULURP, these time periods may be extended and the hearing on the DEIS may be held concurrently with the required hearing on a ULURP application. 

The chart below illustrates the regulatory process for a public hearing on the DEIS.

CEQR Public Hearing Process

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Before you contact your lead agency or MOEC, see whether your question has been addressed in the CEQR Frequently Asked Questions.

Additional Sources of Information:
If you still need additional information on CEQR, please see any of the following sources of information or contact MOEC to assist you:
Reports & Manuals
CEQR Calendar
Calendar
Citywide calendar of CEQR events
CEQR Links
> Council on Environmental Quality (NEPA)
> N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation (SEQRA)