CEQR FAQs - General

Here are answers to a number of frequently asked questions that MOEC has compiled over time.

What is CEQR?

City Environmental Quality Review, or CEQR, is the process by which agencies of the City of New York review proposed discretionary actions to identify the effects those actions may have on the environment.

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How does CEQR differ from SEQRA or NEPA?


If a federal agency funds part of a project, approves a permit, or undertakes a project, that agency must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) before taking its action. NEPA requires all federal agencies to evaluate the environmental consequences of proposed actions and to consider alternatives.


If a state agency funds part of a project, approves a permit or project, or undertakes a project, that agency must comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, known as SEQRA. This Act requires that state and local governmental agencies assess environmental effects of discretionary actions before undertaking, funding or approving such actions, unless they fall within certain statutory or regulatory exemptions from the requirements for review.


CEQR is New York City's process for implementing SEQRA, and can be no less stringent than its state counterpart. CEQR differs from SEQRA and NEPA in that its procedures pertain to proposed discretionary actions specifically taking place within the boundaries of New York City. CEQR adapts and refines the state rules to take into account the special circumstances of New York City. Some of the primary practical differences between CEQR and SEQRA are that CEQR provides guidance on selection of a lead agency, adds scoping requirements, and promotes the use of the City's CEQR Technical Manual in conducting environmental reviews.

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Which aspects of the environment are considered in a CEQR review?

The following are the substantive technical areas assessed during an environmental review under CEQR:

  • Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy
  • Socioeconomic Conditions
  • Community Facilities and Services
  • Open Space
  • Shadows
  • Historic and Cultural Resources
  • Urban Design and Visual Resources
  • Natural Resources
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Infrastructure
  • Solid Waste and Sanitation Services
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  • Air Quality
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Noise
  • Public Health
  • Neighborhood Character
  • Construction Impacts

Methods for analyzing potential impacts in each of these areas are provided in Chapters 4 through 22 of the CEQR Technical Manual.

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What triggers a CEQR review?

Puursuant to SEQRA, CEQR reviews are triggered whenever a city agency has a discretionary action to approve. If a project needs certain discretionary actions or approvals before it can start, CEQR is generally invoked. Such action may be initiated by the City or proposed by private applicants for approval by a City agency. Ministerial actions, such as the routine issuance of building permits, do not require CEQR review.

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?
  • Will city funding be requested in order to complete the project?
  • Is the project being directly undertaken by a city agency?

If the answer is *YES* to any of these questions, the project needs to undergo environmental review under CEQR. 

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What type of review is needed under CEQR?

The level of review needed depends on the type of action. To determine the appropriate level of review, determine the following:

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When is public notice and a comment period required?

The results of the EAS determine whether a project requires a public notice and comment period. There are two instances when public notice and comment apply:  after the issuance of a conditional negative declaration and after the issuance of a positive declaration (when a project requires an EIS to be prepared). If the lead agency issues a conditional negative declaration for a project, the public is notified and has 30 days in which to comment. If the lead agency issues a positive declaration for your project, there are two opportunities for the public to participate: a public comment period and a scoping meeting on the draft scope and a public comment period and hearing on the draft EIS .

*Note*: Some agencies conduct public hearings and solicit public comment as part of their decision making processes (such as ULURP) that occur outside of the CEQR process and may be required regardless of the outcome of a CEQR review. However, in many cases, if a public notice and comment period is required during the CEQR process, attempts are made to coordinate the hearings, meetings, and/or public comment periods.

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Where can I find out what all of these CEQR terms mean?

CEQR has its own terminology, see the CEQR Glossary for a list of the key terms. For a full listing of technical terms you may encounter while reading environmental review documents, please refer to the CEQR Technical Manual’s Glossary.

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What are the rules and regulations governing CEQR and SEQRA and where can I find them?


CEQR Rules of Procedure are published in Title 62 of the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY), Chapter 5 with provisions of Executive Order No. 91 published as an Appendix and also in Title 43 of the Rules of the City of New York, Chapter 6.


SEQRA is Article 8 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law. The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations are published in Part 617 of Title 6 New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR).

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What is the history of CEQR and where can I find more information?

Please see the CEQR Laws and Regulations.

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Please contact MOEC if you have any questions regarding any of the FAQs above or your question(s) was not covered.