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A sense of urgency being felt in NYC

Monday, May 19, 2014 - Updated: 7:15 AM

New York does everything bigger and better. Global warming is no exception.

An alarming White House report last week, aggregating the best evidence from top scientists, revealed that the region's swell of sea levels, increasingly frequent torrents of rain and rising temperatures have outpaced the rest of the world's.

Nobody knows for sure what comes next, but the most sophisticated models suggest the coming storms and floods will be worse than anything yet seen. But as hurricane season approaches, official urgency about protecting New York's fragile shores appears in strikingly short supply.

New York City -- which, last we checked, is the nation's largest city, and right on the water -- is still awaiting action on a half-billion dollars in requests to the feds. The cash is needed to fortify flood-prone structures, from new boilers for NYCHA towers to flood barriers for hospitals and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

The holdup is not FEMA but the state's own Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, which is the gatekeeper that must pre-approve local applications.

Nearly 10 months after the Cuomo administration kicked off the program, the state has approved only two New York City requests, totaling about $60 million, out of three-quarters of a billion dollars expected to be available. Meanwhile, they've signed off on $382 million for two dozen non-New York City projects.

And while the de Blasio administration launched a new Office of Recovery and Resiliency -- appointing a capable Bloomberg administration holdover, Dan Zarrilli, to engineer the mighty effort to fortify the city -- that's about the only sign the mayor is focused on climate change.

Mother Nature doesn't wait in line for her political moment. The administration says it will put its imprimatur on the Bloomberg administration's solid climate plan, but not until its long-ago-scheduled 2015 refresh date.

The climate is changing; the seas are rising. New York's sense of urgency needs to rise with it.

-- The New York Daily News


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