Our President is making many decisions about protection of the environment on his gut instincts (because he’s so much smarter than anyone else even without having studied or consulted anyone) or based on what will benefit business interests now, rather than long-term.
The climate resiliency study that was planned for New York City has stopped dead because Trump tweeted that he thought a wall for the city against floods (shall we mention the southern wall). There was no further discussion. The powers that be simply stopped the project without regard to the validity or need for the study. This is exactly what happens when one person makes the decisions for a country and everyone else runs scared of a vindictive followup or other vengeful action instead of operating under the rule of law and the objective facts determined by science. Absolutely appalling.
“Unprecedented and Dangerous”: Trump Administration Halts NYC’s Most Important Climate Resiliency Study
Workers pumping flood waters from a building in Lower Manhattan following Hurricane Sandy Peter Foley/EPA/Shutterstock
The federal government has abruptly halted a study of New York City’s coastal storm surge preparedness — throwing into question the fate of the region’s most expansive climate resiliency effort and fueling speculation about politically motivated retribution by the Trump administration.
The study was launched in 2017 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate five possible defenses against severe storms and flooding that threaten coastal communities and the New York/New Jersey harbor. Potential measures ranged from a massive and controversial storm barrier miles off the coast of Manhattan to less intensive on-shore options, like berms and wetlands.
Then last week, the study was quietly shelved without notice. A spokesperson for the Army Corps, Michael Embrich, confirmed that a “funding lapse” in the federal budget had halted all work on the assessment. A draft report expected this summer has been postponed, as have public meetings on the project scheduled for this spring. Advertisement
Robert Freudenberg, the Regional Plan Association’s vice president for energy and environment, called the decision to quash the study “unprecedented and dangerous.”
“This is the biggest study region-wide looking at measures to protect communities and ecosystems from the impacts of big storms like Sandy,” Freudenberg told Gothamist. “The idea that a study of this magnitude being pulled in the dead of night is shocking.”
An Army Corps’ spokesperson would not elaborate on why the project was suspended, saying only that the agency “has to compete for funding with all of the other studies in the Corps of Engineers National portfolio.”
Freudenberg noted the decision fit within a pattern of President Trump’s disinvestment in New York — pointing to fights over the Gateway Tunnel, Medicaid spending, and the Trusted Traveler Program seemingly driven by political retribution.
When the Times reported last month about the $119 billion sea wall being considered as a possible storm defense, Trump tweeted that the barrier was “foolish” and “looks terrible.” He urged New Yorkers to instead “get your mops & buckets ready!”
Hurricane Sandy killed 285 people, displaced thousands of New Yorkers, and caused nearly $20 billion in damages across the city.
Due to rising sea-levels caused by a rapidly warming planet, scientists expect that major floods that once occurred a couple times a millennium could hit New York every five years by 2030. A more recent study found that sea levels may be on track to rise by more than double the figure climate scientists previously projected.
The US Army Corps study was set to soon recommend a longterm solution, which could take up to 25 years to build.
While the federal agency had garnered criticism for not adequately factoring in sea level rise, environmental advocates said they’d had productive conversations with engineers about improving those parameters in recent months.
A feasibility report was expected to be released this coming summer laying out the costs, benefits, and proposals of various protection measures. It was widely assumed the final report would be followed by financial backing from the federal government to begin implementing long-term projects.
“Where this leaves us is literally no path forward at the federal level,” said Jessica Roff, director of advocacy at Riverkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization. “At best we were looking at a 20-year trajectory, and now we’re not even on that path.”
She said that it was now up to the state — which had previously funded a quarter of the study — to take a more proactive role in resiliency efforts. A spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, Senator Chuck Schumer criticized the administration, saying there were no reasonable justification for ending the study mid-stream.
“The administration is being penny-wise and pound-foolish by not funding the studies that allow New Yorkers to prepare for the next superstorm,” he said. “There was no reason given for these cuts—because there is no answer.”