HELENA (UM Legislative News Service) A program run through Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks compensates landowners in Montana for opening their land for public hunting access.
Now, a bill that could double the amount of money they get is just a few steps away from reaching the governor’s desk.
In 2020, there were 7.1 million acres of private land open for public hunting in Montana because of the block grant management program. Current law caps payments to landowners who allow hunting on their property at up to $25,000. Sen. Steve Heinbauch is the sponsor of Senate Bill 58, which would cap payments at $50,000 a year. Rep. Brandon Ler, R-Savage, is carrying the bill in the House.
“It was last increased in the 2021 session, from $15,000 to $25,000. But after that there was still quite a few landowners that had reached the cap. Some of these landowners are providing hundreds, if not thousands of hunter days that are not being compensated for,” Ler said.
The program would also help landowners with maintenance and insurance to help make up for the risk of letting people hunt on their land.
Democratic Representative Tom France from Missoula supported the bill. He said if Montana wants to keep its reputation as a recreation mecca, it needs to invest in the programs that make it so.
“Our block management program in this state that provides public access through voluntary agreements between the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and private landowners is really the envy of the nation. Just like we’ve seen housing prices go up and rental prices go up, the price of partnerships with landowners has gone up. And this bill will ensure that we continue to have great access in Montana,” France said.
No opponents spoke against the bill during its hearing March 14th or during the debate in the House. The House advanced the bill on a 99-to-1 vote on Thursday. It now goes to the House Appropriations Committee before coming back to the House for a final vote. The Senate already passed the bill 45-to-3 in January.
The Hakuto-R spacecraft won’t land on the Moon until April, but the private mission is already in the record books.
Tokyo-based company ispace developed the lunar spacecraft and lander with the aim of becoming the first private mission to successfully land on the Moon. During its long journey to the Moon, Hakuto-R got as far as 855,000 miles (1.376 million kilometers) away from Earth on January 20. That distance made the Japanese lunar spacecraft the “farthest privately funded, commercially operating spacecraft to travel into space,” the company said in its statement.
The lunar probe CAPSTONE, which is operated by private company Advanced Space, reached a further distance of 951,908 miles (1,531,948 km) from Earth on its way to the Moon, according to Space.com. However, the spacecraft was funded by NASA so it does not qualify as a purely commercial effort.
The Japanese lunar mission launched on board SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on December 11 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Since then, the spacecraft has taken a loopy, energy-efficient route to the Moon and is expected to finally reach the lunar surface in April.
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The Mission 1 lander (M1) is the inaugural mission of ispace’s lunar exploration program, Hakuto-R. M1 will attempt to land on the lunar surface and, if successful, become the first private mission to achieve such a feat. In 2019, Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander was the first attempt by a private company to land on the Moon. However, computer glitches and communication problems caused it to crash on the surface.
With its upcoming attempted landing, ispace wants to usher in a new era of commercial drop-offs on the surface of the Moon. The M1 lander is packed with both government and commercial payloads, including the 22-pound (10-kilogram) Rashid rover built by the United Arab Emirates and a transformable ball-like robot, named SORA-Q, developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the TOMY toy company.
It’s certainly a big task for the Japanese company’s first attempt to reach the Moon. But Hakuto-R seems to be in good shape thus far, even snapping a farewell photo of its home planet while en route to the Moon. The spacecraft has already broken a record before arriving at the lunar surface, let’s see if it can make history by sticking the landing.
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Fairfield Lake State Park, 96 miles south of Dallas, is expected to close permanently by the end of the month because its landlord is selling the land.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received a lease termination notice from the owners, Vistra Corp., which had operated the Big Brown coal power plant at that location until the plant shuttered in 2018. Vistra is selling its 5,000-acre property to Dallas-based real estate developer Shawn Todd and his firm, Todd Interests, for $110.5 million.
Todd announced the land will be turned into an exclusive gated community, which includes multimillion-dollar homes and a private golf course, The Dallas Morning News and Bloomberg reported.
Fairfield isn’t the only state park on borrowed land. There are 14 other public parks, like Cedar Hill, Lake Whitney and Ray Roberts Lake, that could face a similar fate.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Chair Arch “Beaver” Aplin III said the agency attempted to purchase the state park site, but neither the company nor the buyer would consider selling part or all of the land to the state. The park includes 1,460 acres of land and the 2,400-acre Fairfield Lake.
A renowned fishing spot, the lake attracts anglers who fish for bass, crappie, perch, catfish, tilapia and red drum. The lake is also popular for swimming and kayaking, while the surrounding land offers 15 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horse riding. With close to 250 species of birds recorded — including the bald eagle — the park is a bird-watching heaven.
For more than 50 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department leased land for the state park from energy companies, Vistra and Luminant. Since 1976, the state has invested $72 million in renovations and improvements to the park.
“This is an unprecedented loss of a state treasure for Texans,” said David Yoskowitz, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “The demand for outdoor recreation exceeds supply in Texas, so losing even one state park is a setback for all of us who enjoy publicly accessible lands.”
The department said the park will close permanently Feb. 28. The Vistra spokesperson said the state will have 120 days from Feb. 13 — the date the lease termination was sent — to vacate the property. During that time, park staff will begin to remove equipment, relocate staff members to other parks and cancel upcoming camping reservations. More than 2,700 people had already reserved spots for dates after Feb. 27, according to a press release.
Aplin said the selling of the parkland was a surprise and will have a huge impact on Fairfield, a town of about 2,800 people.
“They had been a coal-producing plant for some 40 or 50 years,” he said. “So when they decided to shut down, we didn’t see that coming. … [We] had no way of knowing.”
A Vistra spokesperson said the company has leased the land to the state at no cost and gave the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department a two-year notice that it intended to terminate the lease effective October 2020. The spokesperson said Vistra encouraged the state to submit a bid to buy the entire property — but the state did not submit a bid.
Since 2016, Irving-based corporation Vistra has closed or announced the closure of 19 coal plants as what was once the state’s largest electricity generator pivoted to solar power, investing about $850 million toward seven solar projects in Texas.
“This is one of their big attractors in their community,” Aplin said of the Fairfield area. “People come to the park and shop in the town of Fairfield. We had 83,000 people come to the park last year. It’s a big deal, not only for our agency, but for the community and Freestone County.”
State Rep. Angelia Orr, R-Itasca, whose district includes the park, filed a bill Tuesday that, if passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, would allow the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to use eminent domain to seize the park’s land.
Orr said lawmakers also are working on a bill to prevent more state parks from being closed.
“This treasured piece of Texas has blessed our local families and countless visitors for generations, and losing it is hard to comprehend,” she said. “I join park lovers in Freestone County and across the state in expressing my sincere disappointment in hearing this news. As a result, we are now working on legislation to prevent this from ever occurring in any of our other beautiful state parks going forward.”
Luke Metzger, executive director of the advocacy group Environment Texas, said it was especially tragic that the park will close during the 100-year anniversary of the state park system.
“Our state parks are sacred to us as Texans,” Metzger said. “Unfortunately, this loss means fewer nights camped, fewer fish reeled in and fewer memories with our families.
“Texas desperately needs more state parks, not fewer,” he added.
State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, who chairs the Business and Commerce Committee voiced his displeasure Tuesday.
“Today’s heartbreaking announcement of the closing of Fairfield Lake State Park is a tremendous loss for Freestone County and all Texans who enjoy our state’s unique parklands,” he said. “It is unfortunate that Vistra and this private developer were unable to come to an agreement that would have allowed the state of Texas to purchase the park from Vistra to maintain it for future generations of Texans.”
Disclosure: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Inside a warehouse at the industrial Port of Portland lies what some believe could be the answer to Oregon’s housing crisis — a prototype of an affordable housing unit made from mass timber.
Once mass-produced at the factory being planned at the port, the units ranging from 426 square feet (40 square meters) to 1,136 square feet (106 square meters) could be deployed across the state to be assembled in urban and rural communities alike, potentially alleviating a critical housing shortage that has driven Oregon’s high rates of homelessness.
“I can’t wait to see these homes rolling down the road to those communities who need them right now,” said newly inaugurated Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek, who visited the prototypes Friday. “We have to do this day in and day out in order to meet the goals of providing enough housing for every Oregonian in this state. Because that is the long-term solution to end homelessness.”
On her first full day in office earlier this month, Kotek signed an executive order setting a new housing construction target of 36,000 units per year — an 80% increase over current production — in a bid to address the state’s housing shortage.
Mass timber has yet to be widely adopted for affordable housing construction. While Oregon officials are seeking to change that, some environmental groups have expressed concern that increased logging could lead to deforestation if not managed sustainably, which could add to global warming.
Mass timber is made from layers of wood that are stacked, often in perpendicular layers, then compressed and fastened together to make large panels or beams. Already popular in Europe, where it was developed in the 1990s, mass timber is gaining ground in the U.S. The tallest mass timber building in the world, the 25-story Ascent MKE building, opened in Milwaukee last summer, surpassing Norway’s 18-story Mjostarnet tower.
Proponents of mass timber say it uses less energy and emits less carbon than concrete and steel. They also claim it can help reduce wildfire risk, as the material can be made of the smaller trees in a forest’s underbrush. And they point to the rural jobs the industry can create.
The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition received a $41 million federal grant last year to help finance the construction of the housing factory at the Port of Portland. Members of the coalition, which is made up of government agencies and Oregon universities, say the factory would make it easier to produce prefabricated homes.
“The beauty of it is, you can cut the openings required for electrical and plumbing and stuff like that,” said Iain MacDonald, director of the TallWood Design Institute, a member of the coalition. “And you can do all that on a computer-controlled machine in the factory. Then when you get to the job site, it’s a really fast assembly. It’s basically an assembly operation rather than a construction operation.”
The TallWood Design Institute is a collaboration between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.
Producing more factory homes also would allow the state to ramp up housing despite a labor shortage that’s seized the manufacturing and construction industries, MacDonald said.
But some environmental groups say cutting down more trees will release more carbon and reduce forests’ ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
“The business has gone toward clear cutting, spraying, replanting and cutting them down 35 years later,” said Sean Stevens, executive director of conservation organization Oregon Wild. “When you do that 40-year rotation, you never let them get to that point where they could really contribute to storing more carbon. You’re treating it like a crop at that point.”
Environmental groups have also pushed back on the idea that cutting younger trees will mitigate wildfire risk.
“The reason we’re having big fires today is extreme fire weather that is triggered mostly by climate change, high winds, hot temperatures, low humidity,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at conservation organization Wild Heritage. “I think there’s some credibility with taking smaller trees, but it isn’t going to solve the fire problem.”
Some wildfire victims, however, are set to directly benefit from the units. The first completed prototype will go to a couple, Barbara and Scott Benedict, who lost their home in the 2020 Labor Day wildfires that devastated southern Oregon.
“You can’t really say what it means to you,” Scott Benedict said of the new home, which is expected to be delivered to his property in the small town of Otis a few months from now. “We’ve been without a home for 2 1/2 years.”
Affordable housing developers say that using mass timber will allow them to move quicker to rebuild after crises like wildfires and to address systemic issues like the housing shortage.
Ernesto Fonseca, CEO of Hacienda CDC, the Portland nonprofit that worked on designing the prototypes at the city’s port, said it took about six weeks to build six model units. When the factory becomes fully operational, Fonseca estimated it could produce four to six units per day, compared to three to four years for a more traditional project.
“The most significant aspect of this is speed,” Fonseca said. “Rapid rehousing became our driving principle.”
The units will initially range in price from $200,000 for a studio to about $400,000 for a three-bedroom unit, according to Fonseca. He said that he expects prices to go down once the factory is up and running a few years from now. The median sale price of a home in Oregon was $473,400 as of December, according to the online real estate brokerage site Redfin.
Oregon is short 110,000 housing units and needs to build more than a half-million homes over the next 20 years in order to keep up with demand, officials have estimated. The goal of building 36,000 new homes per year outlined in Kotek’s executive order would allow the state to meet that target. Housing advocates have welcomed the order but say that removing bureaucratic red tape will be key to making sure that quota is met.
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Should Assigning A Commercial Real Estate Purchase Agreement Impact Your Environmental Due Diligence? - Environmental Law
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In a commercial real estate transaction, it’s common for
the original buyer to assign the purchase agreement prior to
closing or for a different party to otherwise take title to the
relevant property. If you’re the party receiving the
assignment or otherwise taking title, should this impact your
environmental due diligence? According to a recent decision of the
British Columbia Court of Appeal, it should.
In 0694841 BC Ltd. v. Alara
Environmental Health and Safety Limited, the court ruled
that a company who was assigned a purchase agreement could not rely
on an environmental assessment prepared for a related entity when
purchasing commercial real estate. As such, when the property was
later discovered to be contaminated, the owner could not sue the
environmental consultant for missing the contamination.
In this case, 0694841 BC Ltd. (069), a holding company used to
make offers to purchase real estate, obtained an environmental site
assessment from an environmental consultant, Alara Environmental
Health and Safety Limited (Alara), as part of its due diligence in
purchasing a commercial property. Alara conducted Phase I and Phase
II environmental assessments on the property and did not find
contamination. Alara’s report contained a disclaimer that
only the “client” — in this case, 069 —
could rely on the report. 069 then assigned its rights under the
purchase agreement to International Trade Centre Properties Ltd.
(ITC). 069 and ITC were related companies with a shared director
and acting mind.
Six years after purchasing the property, ITC found contamination
and sued Alara for negligent misrepresentation. The British
Columbia Court of Appeal held that ITC could not rely on an
environmental assessment prepared for 069, even though the
companies were related, and ITC had, in fact, paid the Alara
invoices. This was because Alara had disclaimed any liability to
third parties. Buyers and assignees should be aware of the risks
inherent in trying to rely on an environmental report with a
disclaimer, particularly when it’s prepared for a third
party, whether the entities are related or not.
It’s important to ensure that all related entities and
potential assignees are entitled to rely on the environmental site
assessment. This can include obtaining a reliance letter from the
consultant for all related entities or incorporating a term into
the contract whereby reliance is extended not just to the entity
that hired the consultant but also any related entities or
affiliates. If assigning the purchase agreement to a related entity
is a possibility, the abovementioned rights should be included in
the contract with the consultant at the outset of the engagement.
If these rights are negotiated down the road, they may be more
challenging to negotiate, come with an additional fee or be
In addition, an environmental consultant’s general service
terms and conditions should be reviewed before it is hired/engaged,
as their initial position is often to limit their liability to the
fees paid by the client on the mandate. This limit on a
buyer’s potential recovery of damages may be as little as a
few thousand dollars in the case of a Phase I environmental site
assessment, a far cry from the clean-up costs for even the most
modest environmental problem.
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Lanky palms dip over white beaches of powder-fine sand. Decadent villas hover above impossibly warm shallows. All around, sea and air merge into a uniform shade of blue.
These are the Fari Islands, the apex of tropical perfection situated near the northern end of the archipelago that makes up the Maldives, one of the ultimate vacation destinations for the world’s wealthiest. Made up of 1,200 specks of land sprinkled over hundreds of miles of Indian Ocean, the Maldives are in fact a series of 55 million-year-old limestone outcroppings perched atop a submerged volcanic plateau.
But these islands, and many others like them, are dying. They are on the front lines of a losing battle with global warming, one in which paradise has been transformed into a sun-drenched dystopia as whole nations face a watery obliteration. Indeed, the climate prognosis for the Maldives is bleak: According to NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, by 2050 some 80% of the country could be uninhabitable. Even if the world’s nations suddenly pivoted away from fossil fuels, this country’s fate seems unavoidable.
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EASTHAMPTON — An energy firm is seeking a special permit to construct a 250-kilowatt solar array over the existing capped and closed landfill within the wastewater treatment plant property.
The city’s Planning Board will hold its first public hearing with the company, Solect Energy, of Hopkington, on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
According to the firm’s application, Solect Energy is proposing the installation of a solar array over the former sludge lagoons at the northeastern side of the 17-acre parcel at 10 Gosselin Drive. Plans describe the array as having nine rows and a total of 774 modules that will cover 17,549 square-feet or .403 acres of the property.
The overall project, including rows of separation with existing vegetated strips and gravel entrances, will take up approximately 33,000 square feet or 0.76 acres, and will cost approximately $1.09 million.
Borrego Solar Systems of Lowell constructed a 2-megawatt solar array on the capped landfill on Oliver Street in September 2011. A solar array also was proposed for the Loudville Road capped landfill in 2009, but according to previous Gazette reports, residents were vocally against it.
In addition to the public hearing for the proposed solar array, the Planning Board also will host its second hearing on an estimated $26 million to $30 million redevelopment of the former Tasty Top site into a mixed-use residential and commercial center.
Construction for the project will be completed in four phases over a five-year period, and currently includes 188 apartments — 54 of which would be affordable — spread across nine, 18-unit buildings, and two mixed-use buildings with ground floor retail or commercial and apartment units above — 12 units in one building and 14 in the other, according to the proposal.
Other plans for the site include an approximately 9,000-square-foot Roots Learning Center, a 7,000-square-foot Roots Gymnastic Center, two sit-down restaurants, and two 13,600-square-foot mixed-use warehouse buildings.
Tasty Top Development LLC, which is registered to Frank A. DeMarinis, owner of Sage Engineering & Contracting Inc. of Westfield, submitted an application for this proposed development to the city’s Planning Board on Nov. 28. Tasty Top Development purchased the Northampton Street site from Dennis Courtney for $2.2 million on April 11.
At the Dec. 20 hearing, about a dozen residents offered up comments on the proposed development, tentatively being called “Sierra Vista Commons.” Outside of the meeting, residents and community groups have submitted letters of concern for the proposal, including the Historical Commission and Pascommuck Conservation Trust.
In the commission’s Dec. 19 letter to the Planning Board, members note that a portion of the 33-acre property that is considered for development borders remnants of the Hampshire and Hampden Canal and requested that developers preserve that section and refrain from parking heavy equipment, storing soil and limiting construction activities. The commission also suggested installing historical markers and opening that area to residents for recreational purposes.
In response, Bryan Balicki, project manager from Furrow Engineering in Westfield, stated in a Dec. 27 letter that revised plans submitted to the city identify the remaining section of the canal and list the area on plans as a “Do Not Disturb” area. He also indicates that the developer is agreeable to the commission’s suggestion on opening the space for recreation and installing historical markers.
Similarly, Balicki responded to the five-page letter submitted by Gerrit Stover, a longtime volunteer conservation adviser for the trust. Among Stover’s concerns was that no historical or archeological survey or records search was performed, “even though most of the site has lain undisturbed except for farming since the 18th century.” Much like the Historical Commission, Stover cited concerns for the canal, as well as concern for potential Indigenous presence.
“The known hunting area located at Park Hill just to the northwest, the location not far downstream of the native village of Pascommuck (displaced by the colonial settlers of Easthampton), and the site’s easy water access to the Connecticut River all increase the likelihood that this site was significant,” he wrote.
In his Dec. 27 response, Balicki said that the project has been reviewed by the Historical Commission and that the location of the canals have been added to the revised plans.
In an interview with the Gazette, Marty Klein, a longtime member of the Pascommuck Conservation Trust’s board, said he appreciated the responses and changes were made, including moving buildings away from areas that the trust considers to be “critical environmental areas,” but felt that there is still more to find out about the project.
“The trust is a dedicated group of concerned citizens who are working together and independently to challenge the developer to come up with something that will make a positive statement about us. This is the gateway to Easthampton and the last commercial area before you hit housing. We deserve something that is going to make a positive statement about the city,” he said.
Klein, who called the proposed development’s name “ridiculous,” said that he and the trust support building up the city’s affordable housing stock, but question if the site is the best fit with its potential environmental impacts as well as the already heavy flow of traffic through the Route 10 corridor. He also urged residents to pack the room on Jan. 3 even if they don’t intend to comment as their presence is important on such a large scale project.
“We need to challenge the developers to create something here that people in the future will look at and say, ‘What a wonderful place’ and not, ‘What the hell were they thinking?’” he said.
Emily Thurlow can be reached at email@example.com.
Manama, Bahrain – stc Bahrain, a world-class digital enabler, has partnered with Trafco Group to support the company’s ongoing “Trees for Life” campaign. As part of the partnership, Trafco has pledged to plant 3,000 trees across various locations in the Kingdom.
The partnership is part of stc Bahrain’s commitment to preserve the environment and combat climate change by increasing the number of green spaces in Bahrain, in line with the Kingdom’s 2035 vision to double the number of trees. The campaign also aims to reduce desertification, address increasingly high temperatures and promote environmental awareness and air quality enhancement in Bahrain.
stc Bahrain’s “Trees for Life” campaign was launched in 2021, in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Environment and the Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning, with an aim to plant 50,000 trees by the end of 2022.
For more information, please contact:
Ghadeer Alaradi: firstname.lastname@example.org
About stc Bahrain
stc Bahrain, a subsidiary of stc Group, is the fastest-growing, most innovative telecommunication operator in Bahrain. Since its inception in 2010, stc Bahrain revolutionized the telecommunications industry in the Kingdom of Bahrain and quickly became a market leader, a position that it kept to this day through investing in next-generation technologies and introducing innovative solutions to the people of Bahrain. In 2018, stc Bahrain disrupted fintech with its stc pay ecosystem of services.
stc Bahrain made many local, regional and global breakthroughs, earning it over 30 awards in just eleven years for being the best, widest and fastest network that connects people with an empowering host of products and services. Its persistent dedication to innovation has positioned it as a driving force in delivering telecommunication, digital and mobile financial services for everyday customers, homes and businesses. Together with a broad spectrum of benefits and customizable offerings that provide utmost control and flexibility in a world of evolving digital needs, stc Bahrain today has not only become the preferred Telecommunications network in Bahrain, but also the most forward-looking fearless disruptor in Telecommunication and Fintech.
For more information, please visit www.stc.com.bh and follow us on:
Uttlesford District Council has refused plans for 90 houses in Little Canfield, close to a landfill site with a history of “extensive” illegal activity.
The planning committee voted to block the scheme from Wellbeck Strategic Land this morning (Wednesday, December 14) because of its impact on the countryside.
The developer had argued that the houses would be set back to preserve the local setting and protect nine nearby listed buildings.
Councillors raised further concerns future residents could be affected by bad smells from decaying waste buried in the landfill site on the opposite side of Stortford Road.
According to a council report, “extensive” illegal activity has been reported in the landfill site.
Cllr Judy Emanuel, the Residents for Uttlesford member for Newport, said: “I’m still not comfortable with the odour issue and I’m made more uncomfortable by the submission from the Environment Agency.”
However, the committee was advised by officers that odour and illegal landfill were enforcement issues for Essex County Council and the Environment Agency, and therefore not sufficient reasons to refuse planning permission.
The committee opted instead to refuse the proposals on the grounds of their impact on the countryside and listed buildings, as well as the development’s location in the countryside protection zone (CPZ), a protected strip of land in Uttlesford aimed at mitigating the impact of Stansted Airport.
Planning agent David Barnes argued: “Wellbeck has worked hard with the council both pre and post-submission of the application.
“These discussions have included consideration of the design and layout of the development, including housing being set back from the Flitch Way to preserve its setting and creating buffers around the listed buildings.”
Nevertheless, councillors were concerned new residents would be over-reliant on cars if the plans were approved and that they would put pressure on education and health services.
Cllr Maggie Sutton, the Residents for Uttlesford member for Takeley, said: “There is nowhere to go, there are no shops, there is no school, there is nothing. They are there in the middle of nowhere and everybody will use their cars to get to places.”
In all, 40% of the site would have been affordable homes, meeting the council’s minimum requirement.
In addition to the houses, the developer also sought planning permission for access from Stortford Road, a sustainable drainage scheme with an outfall to the River Roding and “green infrastructure”, such as play areas for children.
Local Law 97: Q&A For Property Owners, Including Commercial Landlords, On NYC's Groundbreaking Climate Change Law - Landlord & Tenant - Leases
Property owners in New York City are increasingly focused on the
January 1, 2024 start date for compliance with New York City’s
Local Law 97 of 2019. This advisory addresses some of the questions
our clients are asking attorneys most frequently. With just over a
year to go before compliance is required, the Department of
Buildings has now issued long-awaited draft rules to provide
important technical details on the law’s operation. Time is of
the essence for covered property owners to understand their
What does LL97 require?
LL97 requires covered buildings to meet specified limits for
greenhouse gas emissions per square foot for their building
category (residential, commercial, institutional, etc.) Emissions
will mostly be related to electrical usage (including tenant usage)
and onsite heating and cooling systems. Certain industrial users
may also have emissions related to their manufacturing and
operations. Owners may be required to pay a penalty of $268 per ton
of greenhouse gas emissions above their buildings’ limits,
though DOB is expected to issue regulations detailing the criteria
for making penalty determinations.
Who does it apply to?
Most buildings greater than 25,000 square feet must comply with
the emission limits. For most covered buildings, Local Law 84 of
2009 already requires annual reporting of energy and water usage.
So covered buildings should be accustomed to assessing their energy
usage and some may have professionals engaged already. Anyone can
easily look up a building’s expected status compliance and
potential penalties for LL97 by visiting www.accelerator.nyc.
When do compliance periods begin?
Covered buildings must file reports with DOB by May 1, 2025
detailing their annual greenhouse gas emissions for calendar year
2024, and then by May 1 of every year after. The annual report must
be certified by a registered architect or professional engineer.
Most buildings are already in compliance with the benchmark
emissions limits for calendar years 2024 through 2029, but the
benchmarks will become substantially more stringent for calendar
years 2030 through 2034.
What’s in DOB’s Proposed Rules?
On October 6, 2022, DOB released draft Proposed Rules for Local
Law 97 that fill a number of important gaps in the legislation. The
proposed rules are quite technical and address a variety of topics,
including methods for calculating buildings’ emissions limits
and energy usage, a method for factoring time of use into emissions
calculations, and expansion of the number of property type
categories to better capture variation in energy use among
buildings. There are several key elements worth noting here:
- The proposed rule would set a greenhouse gas
“coefficient” for 2030 to 2034 for electricity
consumption that anticipates a successful effort by New York state
to decarbonize the electricity grid and meet the goals set by the
state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
(“CLCPA”). Under CLCPA, the State aims to achieve zero
emission electricity by 2040 and 70 percent renewable generation by
2030. The rules propose reducing the carbon emissions associated
with electricity consumption for the 2030 to 2034 period by 50
percent. That is, a building’s consumption of a kWh of
electricity from the grid will be assigned half as much greenhouse
gas emissions as in the previous period. This would be very
meaningful assistance to buildings trying to meet the more
stringent emissions limits that will apply in 2030 to 2034.
- The proposed rules would allow buildings to offset their
electricity associated emissions through the purchase of renewable
energy credits (“RECs”), without any cap on the amount
that may be offset. Buildings would not be allowed to offset fossil
fuels burned on site. This remains a highly controversial issue and
was the subject of significant comment at the November 14 hearing.
DOB has promised to revisit the issue and consider limits on the
use of RECs.
- The proposed rules would set strict emissions limits for an
expanded number of building types for 2030 to 2049, and for 2050
and beyond the rule would set a zero emissions limit for all
building types. The unstated assumption is clearly that buildings
will electrify their HVAC, that owners will upgrade windows and
other building systems; and that the State will successfully green
its electrical grid in line with the goals of CLCPA.
How can building owners pay for necessary upgrades?
Financing for necessary upgrades will largely depend on the form
of ownership for a building. Co-op properties will have access to
traditional co-op mortgages and special assessments. Due to the
nature of condominium ownership, traditional mortgages are not an
option; however, condominiums may also impose a special assessment,
and can obtain financing through more creative means. These include
Common Interest Realty Association (CIRA) loans, which are made
available by a small number of lenders. A condominium may also
mortgage a resident manager’s unit, if one exists in the
building, or take out a revolving line of credit for small
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans may also be an
option for both cooperatives and condominiums. PACE loans programs
are being organized by the Mayor’s office with private lenders.
Owners can use these loans for energy efficiency upgrades and pay
them back as an assessment on a property tax bill. Since the loan
repayment is charged as a tax assessment, PACE loans typically have
priority over other loans; this has caused many lenders to
expressly prohibit PACE financing, but the hope is that lenders
will become more comfortable with PACE as energy efficiency becomes
more and more of a priority in the future. More information is
available at www.accelerator.nyc, explained below.
Who can advise building owner about compliance?
The Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice has
established “NYC Accelerator”, a program that provides
free consultation services to building owners about compliance.
See www.accelerator.nyc. While the program is
remarkably useful, larger buildings will inevitably find themselves
seeking outside advice—particularly heating, ventilation and
cooling engineers; solar energy installers; and other professionals
who can advise on building upgrades to reduce energy usage and
greenhouse gas emissions.
Since tenant energy use and emissions are included in the
building limits, how will the law impact commercial tenants?
Any new lease negotiations should take into account LL 97 and
clearly allocate the costs of compliance and non-compliance between
landlord and tenant. As for existing leases, these should be
reviewed to determine whether they contain a mechanism to pass on
increases in operating costs, such as building improvements or fees
imposed for exceeding LL97 limits. Existing leases should also be
reviewed to determine whether the landlord can regulate the
electrical capacity delivered to a tenant’s premises.
How will LL 97 apply to cooperative apartment buildings and
If they have not already, cooperatives and condominiums that
fall within the criteria for LL 97 emissions standards must begin
having conversations about what this law means for their buildings.
Boards must have frank discussions about what capital improvements
may be needed in order to comply with LL 97 and prioritize projects
that have a high return on investment, such as lighting upgrades
and improved insulation in common areas. Buildings should hire a
consultant to determine the priority of needs and ensure compliance
with LL 97. That consultant should also be made available at
meetings with shareholders/unit owners, to educate stakeholders and
impress upon them the importance of energy efficiency upgrades.
Co-op and condominium boards likely have considerable latitude to
require upgrades to building systems and common spaces. Controlling
tenant/unit owner spaces (like electric usage and individual HVAC
systems) may be harder without updates to governing documents
(e.g., proprietary leases, condo declaration, bylaws, etc.). The
earlier a building begins these conversations, the easier it will
be to make any necessary changes and reduce the financial impact LL
97 may pose.
Under the proposed rules, owners can purchase renewable energy
credits to offset GHG emissions related to electric usage. However,
the final rules very well may limit the extent to which RECs can be
used as an offset. RECs are a certified, market-based instrument
that represent the environmental benefits attributable to renewable
electricity generation, issued on a per-megawatt-hour (MWh) of
electricity basis. More information is available from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and New York State Energy Research
& Development Authority. See https://www.epa.gov/green-power-markets/renewable-energy-certificates-recs.
What is New York State’s role?
Covered buildings facing daunting emissions reduction targets
will get a substantial assist from New York State. A building’s
emissions, at least the portion resulting from electricity use, are
directly tied to the emissions of its power sources, and New York
City’s generation facilities now rely almost exclusively on
fossil fuel. However, several state-sponsored projects aim to green
New York’s grid via a combination of new transmission lines and
offshore wind. After a competitive solicitation, the State has
signed contracts for two major transmission projects that will
bring hydropower from Quebec (the Champlain Hudson Power Express)
and a mix of solar, wind and hydropower from upstate New York
(Clean Path) to New York City. These new sources of clean power for
the metro area are expected to come online in 2026 and 2027,
respectively. In addition, the State’s Climate Leadership and
Community Protection Act has mandated the development of 9000 MWs
of offshore wind by 2035. Over 4000 MWs are already in the pipeline
as a result of 2018 and 2020 solicitations by the New York State
Energy Research and Development Authority, and more on the way. As
these renewable resources come online, the coefficient used to
calculate a building’s emissions per kilowatt will drop, as the
draft rules discussed above propose to do for the 2030 to 2034
period. All buildings will see a benefit, but especially those
A collection of cooperative building owners and others have sued
the City alleging that LL97 is unlawful as preempted by New York
State’s climate law; unconstitutionally vague; and an illegal
tax not authorized by the State. The City has moved to dismiss the
lawsuit and the proceedings are continuing. Regardless of the
outcome, real estate interests are pressuring the Mayor to tailor
the law’s penalties and compliance periods.
With only a year left to begin compliance, however, building
owners should not count on changes to the law just yet, and should
seek legal, architectural and engineering guidance where
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.