SEQRA Glossary: Key Terms & Definitions for Developers and Consultants

SEQRA Key Terms & Definitions

Action: A project or activity proposed by a state or local agency that may affect the environment and is subject to SEQRA review. Actions include direct actions by an agency, funding of projects by an agency, and issuance of permits or approvals by an agency.1

Environmental Assessment Form (EAF): A form used by an agency to assist in determining the environmental significance of a proposed action. The EAF describes the proposed action, its location, and its potential impacts on the environment.2

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): A detailed written document that evaluates the potential significant adverse environmental impacts of a proposed action, alternatives to the action, and mitigation measures to minimize the impacts. An EIS is required for actions that may have a significant adverse impact on the environment.3

Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS): A type of EIS that examines the environmental effects of a group of actions that are related geographically, generically, or by stage of development. A GEIS may be used to assess the cumulative impacts of multiple projects or to establish a framework for the environmental review of subsequent site-specific actions.4

Involved Agency: An agency that has jurisdiction by law to fund, approve, or directly undertake an action. If an agency will ultimately make a discretionary decision to fund, approve, or undertake an action, then it is an "involved agency," notwithstanding that it has not received an application for funding or approval at the time the SEQR process is commenced.5

Lead Agency: An involved agency principally responsible for undertaking, funding, or approving an action, and therefore responsible for determining whether an EIS is required and for the preparation and filing of the EIS if one is required.6

Ministerial Act: An action performed upon a given set of facts in a prescribed manner imposed by law without the exercise of any judgment or discretion as to the propriety of the act, such as the granting of a hunting or fishing license.7

Negative Declaration: A written determination by a lead agency that the implementation of the action as proposed will not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts. A negative declaration concludes the SEQRA process for an action.8

Positive Declaration: A written statement prepared by the lead agency indicating that implementation of the action as proposed may have a significant adverse impact on the environment and that an EIS will be required.9

Scoping: The process by which the lead agency identifies the potentially significant adverse impacts related to the proposed action that are to be addressed in the draft EIS, including the content and level of detail of the analysis, the range of alternatives, the mitigation measures needed, and the identification of nonrelevant issues.10

Segmentation: The division of the environmental review of an action so that various activities or stages are addressed as though they were independent, unrelated activities needing individual determinations of significance. Segmentation is prohibited under SEQRA.11

State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA): A New York State law that requires state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making.12

Type I Action: An action or class of actions identified in the SEQRA regulations as likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and requiring the preparation of an EIS.13

Type II Action: An action or class of actions identified in the SEQRA regulations as not having a significant impact on the environment or that have been statutorily exempted from SEQRA review. No further environmental review is required for Type II actions.14

Unlisted Action: An action that is not identified as either a Type I or Type II action in the SEQRA regulations. The lead agency must determine the significance of an Unlisted action by comparing it with the criteria for determining significance in the SEQRA regulations.15


  1. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(b)

  2. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(m)

  3. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(n)

  4. 6 NYCRR § 617.10

  5. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(t)

  6. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(u)

  7. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(w)

  8. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(z)

  9. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(ac)

  10. 6 NYCRR § 617.8

  11. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(ah)

  12. 6 NYCRR § 617.1

  13. 6 NYCRR § 617.4

  14. 6 NYCRR § 617.5

  15. 6 NYCRR § 617.2(ak)

Keep up with the latest

A Note to Our Readers: We hope this guide is a valuable resource in helping you better understand the . However, it's not a substitute for professional advice and doesn't cover every scenario. Always consult with regulatory bodies and professionals for the most current advice and project-specific guidance.