New York's coastal ecosystems are critical to the state's environmental and economic security, and integral to the state's high quality of life and culture. Healthy coastal ecosystems are part of the state's legacy, and are necessary to support the state's human and wildlife populations. The New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act, Article 14 of the Environmental Conservation Law, establishes the regulatory framework to conserve, maintain, and restore coastal ecosystems, and the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Council, which will promote the understanding, protection, restoration, and enhancement of New York's ocean and Great Lakes ecosystems while promoting sustainable and competitive economic development and job creation.
In support of this new effort, our office engaged in a number of implementation actions, including statute demonstration areas, offshore planning initiatives, and fresh approach to incorporating ecosystem-based principles into our office activities.
New York lies at the convergence of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the Atlantic Ocean, sharing many ecological traits with both. Working with neighboring states to the south and north, and in cooperation with federal agencies, the Department of State has sought partnerships that will advance the shared goals of a healthier, more productive and economically sustainable ocean ecosystem. The Department led the formation and early development of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) and continues to seek opportunities for increased participation in the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC).
New York’s offshore waters are increasingly busy places, yet they are home to significant natural resources that support economic activities and are key to ecological health. Through its authority under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act the Department of State has begun an inclusive offshore planning process to identify areas of the Atlantic potentially suitable for new offshore renewable energy development, and offshore habitat areas that may benefit from greater protection.
The Department of State is New York’s lead agency for regulatory activities related to renewable energy development in the federal waters of the Atlantic offshore New York. The lead federal agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has established a New York Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Task Force to coordinate planning and project regulatory reviews for wind development offshore New York. Our office leads the State’s participation in the Task Force and actively coordinates the participation of other State agencies.
Though significant, the State’s role in managing the many uses of the offshore ocean is one piece of a complex assortment of federal authorities and jurisdictions that is divided among a host of federal agencies. With the establishment of the nation’s first ocean policy and the creation of a Cabinet-level National Ocean Council (NOC), the federal government is poised to re-focus its management of the oceans and untangle the existing web of laws and jurisdictions through a greater emphasis on coordinated agency planning and actions. The Department of State has provided policy guidance to the NOC through formal and informal channels, including service as the Mid-Atlantic region’s designee on a formal advisory body to the NOC.