To better prepare coastal communities and business owners for extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy three years ago, New York continues its national leadership by proposing new state sea-level rise projections that will help state agencies and project planners develop more resilient structures, Basil Seggos, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. Public comments on the proposed regulation will be accepted following publication in the State Register through December 28.
"The sea-level rise projections DEC is proposing today reflect the
best science available and are critical to Governor Cuomo's vision of a
more resilient New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated
whole communities that are still rebuilding," Acting Commissioner
Seggos said. "Sea level projections will help state agencies,
developers, planners and engineers to reduce risks posed by rising seas
and coastal storms over the next several decades."
Governor Cuomo signed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) in
September 2014. CRRA requires applicants for certain permit and funding
programs to demonstrate consideration of future physical risks due to
sea-level rise, flooding and storm surge. DEC is required by CRRA to
adopt state sea-level rise projections.
DEC's regulation to adopt sea-level rise projections does not by
itself create any new design standards or permit requirements. Project
planners and state agencies will, however, be able to use these
projections in project design, and routine permit and funding decision
making, which will result in more resilient projects and safer
communities to live, work and conduct business in. DEC is working with
other agencies to prepare guidance that directs and supports thorough
examination of sea-level rise, flooding and storm surge in several
permitted and funding programs, as required by CRRA. The guidance will
help project planners and agency staff select appropriate sea-level rise
and flooding scenarios so they can plan for changing water levels and
associated risks that might occur over the life of a project.
DEC's proposed projections are based on peer-reviewed research by
scientists at Columbia University, Cornell University and Hunter College
in the ClimAID study, which was funded by the New York State Energy
Research and Development Authority. The original 2011 research report
and the 2014 update are available at NYSERDA's website (leaves DEC website.)
The ClimAID projections include consideration of the possibility of
rapid melt of land-based ice on Antarctica and Greenland, which could
result in significantly higher rates of sea-level rise than would
otherwise occur. Subsequent reports continue to affirm the underlying
assumption that ice melt will likely accelerate beyond historical rates
The proposed regulation provides a range of projections suitable for
risk-based planning and review of projects of varying projected life
times and risk tolerance. For example, the New York City/Lower Hudson
projections range from a low of 15 inches to a high of 75 inches by
2100. Projections for Long Island and the Mid-Hudson are similar. By
having a full range of projections, decision makers will be able to
consider the possibility of more rapid sea-level rise when planning
long-term land-use change and critical, long-lived infrastructure.
New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said, "These proposed
regulations are a critical step forward as the Department of State and
other State agencies work to provide clear and consistent guidance to
communities on how to address the future threats they face from sea
level rise. These projections will help the Department work with its
State, local and regional partners on the Local Waterfront
Revitalization Program and SmartGrowth initiatives to plan for and
create a more resilient New York."
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Mathew J. Driscoll
said, "Governor Cuomo is leading the way in making New York stronger,
safer and better prepared for rough weather and high water. Working with
our sister agencies, these new sea-level rise projections are an
important step in helping us develop a transportation network that is
more resilient and weather ready now and in the future."
State Senator Tom O'Mara, chairman of the Senate Environmental
Conservation Committee said, "The Senate has shown a great willingness
to address these short- and long-term risks and challenges with last
year's passage of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act. It was
overwhelmingly supported and requires consideration of extreme weather
events for a large number of state programs and in the issuance of major
permits. So we are a willing partner in addressing the range of these
concerns with solutions like this one that are reasonable and
State Senator Diane J. Savino, the Senate sponsor of the Act, said,
"The Community Risk and Resiliency Act will play a crucial role in
reducing our risks from sea level rise and extreme weather events. It
requires advance planning for extreme weather events as well as the
consideration of the effects of climate change. Taking full
consideration of the risks from sea level rise, storm surge, and
flooding will increase the resilience of our communities. I am very
pleased that the Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed
regulations to adopt sea-level rise projections pursuant to the Act, and
I'm looking forward to a vibrant discussion of these proposals in the
weeks to come."
Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on
Environmental Conservation said, "According to the National Climate
Assessment, 'the Northeast has experienced a greater recent increase in
extreme precipitation than any other region in the U.S.; between 1958
and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70% increase in the amount of
precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1%
of all daily events). These statistics have been illustrated most
recently by the devastating impacts of storms such as Sandy, Lee and
Irene. In addition to the tragic loss of life, property and
environmental damage, there is also a steep economic cost of extreme
weather events and rising sea level. For example, the financial toll of
Superstorm Sandy on New York is estimated to be at least $42 billion
dollars. Sea level rise projections will help build resiliency into
coastal communities and reduce risks to life and property by allowing
critical infrastructure to be constructed in a manner to withstand
future weather events."
Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and
Resiliency said, "Accurate science is critical to effective climate
adaptation. By adopting sea level rise projections that are consistent
with the climate change projections produced by the New York City Panel
on Climate Change, the State is demonstrating a forward-looking approach
that reflects the best available science. These coordinated
projections, which also inform the City's investments, will support the
critical work of making investments in climate adaptation and resiliency
across the entire State."
Stuart F. Gruskin, chief conservation officer for The Nature
Conservancy in New York said, "The state's release of sea level
projections to implement the Community Risk and Resilience Act is
another significant and welcome step to ensure that New York State is
ready to face the changing climate. As we look back at the catastrophic
impacts of storms like Sandy, Irene, and Lee, we are encouraged that
under Governor Cuomo's leadership New York is affirmatively acting to
protect our communities from similar devastation in the future. We look
forward to reviewing the proposed projections and to continuing our work
with the State to implement important programs that enhance resilience
across New York."
Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation
Voters said, "These projections are the fruit of the Community Risk and
Resiliency Act, which was a top priority for NYLCV in 2014. As we pause
to remember the three year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy this week,
this data will help us make smarter decisions as we strengthen our
infrastructure and improve resiliency in advance of the next big storm. I
commend Governor Cuomo and Acting Commissioner Seggos for their forward
Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York said, "Audubon
New York applauds Acting Commissioner Seggos' introduction of sea-level
rise predictions as another step towards making our coastal communities
more resilient in the face of future storm events and sea level rise.
Some of our most vulnerable areas lie within the Long Island Sound and
Hudson River estuaries, both of which are ecologically and economically
significant to the people, birds, and wildlife of New York and the
Atlantic Coast. Sea level rise projections will allow for proper
planning to ensure the safeguarding of natural features, processes and
irreplaceable habitat in our most vulnerable areas while ensuring the
protection of our residents and communities."
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, "Governor Cuomo is showing
strong national-caliber leadership to ensure New York is combatting
climate change and preparing for its impacts. Scenic Hudson has
collaborated with the Department of Environmental Conservation to help
communities plan for rising sea level, identifying areas and property
likely to suffer inundation and damage and utilities such as sewage
treatment plants likely to be disabled by intense storms and associated
surges. The DEC's new sea level rise projection regulations under CRRA
provide crucial guidance that will help ensure that New York is building
for resilience under the 'new normal' of climate change."
The proposed regulation and support documents are available on DEC's website.
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