By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – This Thursday, March 14th, Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio announced that he would be putting $10 billion into a new project designed to protect the city from rising sea levels by extending part of the Manhattan coastline into the East River.
De Blasio called climate change an “existential threat” to the city, as he announced the plan to extend the shoreline between Brooklyn Bridge and the Battery by around 150 meters. Ever since the devastating damage wreaked by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the city has been looking into ways to protect the shoreline against future storms and sea level rises.
While the mayor was unclear where the $10 billion in funds would come from, he pressed the need for pre-emptive action. “Lower Manhattan is one of the core centers of the American economy,” he tells Associated Press.
“It’s where the financial capital of the United States is. The security of lower Manhattan should be a national priority. The fact is it is not. And it’s incomprehensible to me that there’s no sense of urgency from the federal government.” He continues.
“We can’t afford to bury our head in the sand and that’s right now what our federal government is doing.” De Blasio concludes, while contemplating the inevitable refusal of from a federal government headed up by climate change-denier Donald Trump.
City & State New York report that the plan may well be in part a response to ‘The Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study,’ a recent study conducted in conjunction with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.
Their findings predicted that by the 2050, 37 percent of property in lower Manhattan would be vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels, with the number predicted to go up to fifty percent by 2100.
With building projected to begin in 2020, there is a chance that de Blasio may be dealing with a more sympathetic White House after the upcoming presidential election. However, he also hasn’t ruled out private funding, which caused concerns about how the project may affect the local community.
Margaret S. Chin, New York City Councilwoman, also spoke with Associated Press. She comments, “With this plan to provide protection for the entire coastline of Lower Manhattan, we now have a roadmap to a more resilient and sustainable future,”
She continues, “However, this more resilient future cannot be paid for by private real estate development that would destroy the waterfront neighborhoods that we are trying to protect.”
The Mayor had already announced his plans in an article in New York magazine, where he also outlined how the city will be investing another $500 million to build up flood defenses and retractable barriers.