New York City is a city like no other in the United States or around the world. Geographically, New York City is unique in that the city is comprised of five boroughs, and each borough is its own county. New York City is the only city that is made up of multiple complete counties.
New York City was already the largest city in the United States by 1860, and despite the city’s location at New York Harbor, New York was not primarily known as a port city the way Boston was. While New York City was built upon trade, especially in beaver pelts, by its location and the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, the city boomed due to the rise in manufacturing. After the canal opened and the subsequent boom in trade and manufacturing, New York also became the financial center of the United States despite Philadelphia’s initial dominance.
By 1860, New York was, by far, the largest and most influential city in the United States and that was even before the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898. The separation between the City and the rest of the country would just continue to grow.
To this day, New York City continues to lead the way. In April 2019, New York City Council passed the extremely ambitious and far-reaching Local Law 97, called the Climate Mobilization Act, which was a part of then-Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s New York City Green New Deal. A study of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City showed that two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions came from buildings throughout the city.
Under the Climate Mobilization Act, most of the buildings in New York City will be required to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024, with additional requirements and new limits going into effect in 2030. The goal of the law is to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and by an incredible 80% by 2050.
Stagg Wabnik Law Group assists our clients in navigating environmental statutes and regulations. We have secured significant environmental victories for our clients, including property owners, builders, municipalities, and civic associations, and have dealt with environmental impact litigation involving the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), and New York State's Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
We recognize that protecting our environment takes a global effort; however, it also takes local governments to make the hard decisions. Local Law 97 is a very ambitious undertaking by the City -- we are less than two years away from the first deadline -- and building owners in New York City still have a long way to go. Local Law 97 is taking the issue of environmental protection seriously, and it is an effort that will have consequences for many New Yorkers.
If you would like more information on Local Law 97, you can visit the New York City website here. You can also learn more about the Department of Building's sustainability efforts on its website here.