Ninety percent of New York State’s population resides in waterfront communities --along lakes, riverines, streams, or the ocean. What does that mean for New Yorkers?
Between 2011 and 2019, every county in New York State was impacted by severe storms and flooding, tropical storms, or hurricanes. More than half were affected by 5 or more disaster events. The major federal disaster declarations for these counties totaled $37.3 billion in federal aid for recovery efforts and is projected to be as much as $55 billion for the next decade.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the underlying inequities that make low-income communities and communities of color more vulnerable to shocks and stressors, such as public health crises, rising sea levels, and severe storms. As climate change magnifies these vulnerabilities, and the cost of recovery, the State will need to become more proactive in planning for climate change adaptation.
Rebuild by Design is working with a coalition of leaders representing various interests to alert the State of the growing need to confront the reality of climate change. In response to the coalition's work, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have passed the landmark $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” Bond Act, which would provide funding for local infrastructure and environmental restoration. The bond act will now go to the voters for approval in November 2022.
As New York faces a long and uncertain path toward economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebuild partnered with the leading infrastructure consulting firm AECOM to determine the economic impact of the proposed bond act. The findings from our report, Economic Impacts of the New York State Environmental Bond Act, estimate the bond act would support $6.7 billion in project spending and over 65,000 jobs.
In the 2020-2021 budget, the New York State legislature has appropriated the following amounts:
$1 billion for Restoration and Flood Risk Reduction, including
- $250 million for a voluntary buyout program
- $100 million for shoreline protection
- $100 million for inland flooding and local waterfront revitalization
$550 million for Water Quality Improvement and Resilient Infrastructure, including
- $200 million for water infrastructure improvement act projects
- $100 million for municipal stormwater
$550 million for Open Space Conservation and Recreation, including
- $75 million for fish hatcheries
- $200 million for open space
- $100 farmland protection
$700 million for Climate Change Mitigation, including
- $350 million for green buildings
$200 million for other projects
Our work is not done. As the threats from climate change increasingly impact New Yorkers, and new federal infrastructure funding becomes available, we need to:
1) Ensure the State invests in equitable long-term solutions to protect communities against climate-related flooding, and prepare our State for the future using the most up-to-date climate projections.
2) Help communities understand the costs and impacts of climate change already underway, and on the real and urgent need to limit additional climate change impacts.
3) Educate the public about the potential options and benefits ecological restoration and flood resilience will present for their individual households and communities as a whole, which include middle-class jobs, economic development, equity building, public health improvements, and more.