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Flooding Deaths Push Council to Demand Climate Change Plan for New York | tnewst.com Press "Enter" to skip to content

Flooding Deaths Push Council to Demand Climate Change Plan for New York

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A bipartisan group of Council members who have pushed the measure for two years have long expressed frustration that the administrations of Mr. de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, have not moved more quickly to protect New Yorkers who live in less wealthy, working-class neighborhoods.

City officials and lawmakers have taken a number of steps to bring post-Sandy plans to fruition, like pension-fund divestments from fossil-fuel companies, measures to curb the city’s emissions of planet-warming gases and efforts to shore up parts of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens from storm surges.

But by 2019, the city had spent just 54 percent of the $15 billion the federal government allocated after Sandy struck in 2012 to protect against climate-related dangers, and day-to-day climate-related policies were still in the hands of an alphabet soup of city, state and federal agencies.

That year Costa Constantinides, Mr. Brannan’s predecessor at the helm of the Council’s resiliency committee, and other city lawmakers introduced the first version of the bill.

It did not immediately win support from the mayor or Council leaders, but Ida, and the deaths of 15 New York City residents, most of whom died as basements flooded, changed the calculus, proponents of the measure say. Since Ida, Mr. de Blasio has released an updated climate resiliency plan that commits $2.7 billion in new funding and stresses the urgency of addressing problems like basement flooding. But with his term ending, most of the work will fall to his successor.

Eric Adams, the Democratic candidate and likely next mayor, also released a new climate plan — far more detailed than any he had presented during the primary campaign — after the Ida floods.

The Council measure has been expanded from earlier versions to cover a wider range of climate effects: not just waterfront flooding but extreme rainfall, heat, and wind and even wildfires. It requires the mayor to deliver the first plan by Sept. 30, 2022.

“It’s finally dawning on people, the scope of what climate change means for this town specifically,” Mr. Bautista said.


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