Skip to Main Content
Services Talent Knowledge
Site Search


Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

March 24, 2020

COVID-19's Impact on NYS Environmental Compliance

In an effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic and slow down exposure rates in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202 on March 7, declaring a state of emergency until September 7. Governor Cuomo has since supplemented Executive Order 202 with additional directives, invoking his authority to temporarily suspend any “statute, local law, ordinance, or orders, rules or regulations, or parts thereof of any agency during a state disaster emergency if compliance with such provisions would prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster or if necessary to assist or aid in coping with such disaster.”

While Governor Cuomo has temporarily suspended a number of state statutes and regulations, he has not yet suspended any provision of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) or its implementing regulations at Title 6. As such, all requirements of the ECL and Title 6 continue in full force and effect as well as all valid permits issued by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) under the ECL or delegated federal permitting programs. Interestingly, unlike other state agencies that have issued guidance regarding COVID-19, the NYSDEC has remained silent.

While in some permitting regimes, the ECL provides relief from civil liabilities associated with “violations that were caused an act of God, war, strike, riot, catastrophe, or other condition as to which negligence or willful misconduct,” this anticipates a demonstration of nexus between the emergency and the violation. Most important, it is not preemptive authority for a permittee to violate conditions of a validly issued NYSDEC permit.

Given the above, it is important that permittees continue to comply with all of their NYSDEC permits. If compliance is impossible (i.e., because key employees or consultants cannot perform their duties due to the governor’s workforce reduction directive), please reach out to one of our environmental attorneys for guidance.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Yvonne Hennessey, Environmental and Lobbying & Election Law Compliance Practice Areas co-chair and co-team leader of the Oil & Gas, Linear Infrastructure, and Energy Markets Teams, at or another member of the firm’s Environmental Practice Area.


Click here to sign up for alerts, blog posts, and firm news.


Sign up to receive our latest news via email

Practice Areas

Featured Industries

New & Emerging Industry Practice Areas


View our Privacy Policy

Featured Media


NYS Office of Renewable Energy Siting Proposes New Rules Implementing the Major Renewable Energy Development Program


Strict New Criteria for Community Medicaid Program Takes Effect October 1


FERC Formalizes Its Practice That States Have a Full Year to Act on Section 401 Certification Requests for Natural Gas Act Infrastructure Projects


Have You Received an "Urgent Notice" About Your Trademark?


COVID-19: Anticipated RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 Will Establish a $120 Billion Fund for Assistance


Post-ARRA COBRA Litigation May Signal COBRA Lawsuits to Come

This site uses cookies to give you the best experience possible on our site and in some cases direct advertisements to you based upon your use of our site.

By clicking [I agree], you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For information on what cookies we use and how to manage our use of cookies, please visit our Privacy Statement.

I AgreeOpt-Out