Addabbo's "New York Seawall Study Commission" legislation approved by Senate and Assembly

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

June 13, 2022

The New York State Senate passed S.7141, sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., to set up a commission to study the feasibility, costs, impacts, and best locations for the construction of a seawall around the city of New York’s coastline.

“Over the past decade, many parts of my district and thousands of constituents have dealt with one horrific storm after another, which is becoming increasingly more common,” Addabbo said. “New York City must prepare now for the next superstorm, to determine where a seawall might help save lives and protect vital infrastructure that could cost billions to repair. A study makes perfect sense to determine how a seawall can be vital to New York City infrastructure, vulnerable communities, and simply giving us the upper hand before the next threat arrives,” added Addabbo. 

The created Commission would consist of the following appointed members: 

  • Commissioner of Environmental Conservation or his/her designee; 
  • Secretary of State or his/her designee; 
  • 3 members are appointed by the Governor, with at least one having expertise in environmental justice issues;  
  • 2 members appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate;
  • 2 members appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly;
  • 1 member appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate;
  • 1 member appointed by the Minority Leader of the Assembly;
  •  2 members to be appointed by the Mayor of NYC;
  • 1 member appointed by the County Executive of Nassau;
  • 1 member appointed by the County Executive of Suffolk;
  • 1 member appointed by the County Executive of Westchester.

    Members should include individuals with expertise in one or more of the following areas: climatology, hydrology, environmental, aquaculture, flood risk management, environmental justice, ecological restoration and management, or coastal science and engineering. 

    "We are seeing the increase in devastating hurricanes and tropical storms impacting New York City. We must be proactive in determining what measures we can take to help make our City safer from rising sea level, and deadly storm surge,” said Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly. “This bill will mandate a study to determine the costs, feasibility, and locations of where to place a sea-wall along the NYC coastline to protect our people, and our infrastructure. Other cities have installed similar structures, and we cannot continue to be re-active, we must be pro-active. This study starts that process.”

    The final report to be issued by December 31, 2023, would include information on: 
  • Coastal areas at most significant risk from rising sea levels;
  • Areas at risk from storm surge based on current sea levels;
  • Areas that are more likely to be at risk from coastal hazards, including from extreme weather events, with projections extending through the year 2100;
  • Locations for construction of a seawall including any communities to be at risk from such construction;
  • Feasibility, costs, and locations of nature-based solutions and on-shore protection measures;
  • Costs include impacts on vulnerable populations and natural resources;
  • Recommendations on state and local regulatory and/or statutory alterations.

    “This legislation has been vetoed multiple times after it passed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly, thereby hindering our efforts to solve future flooding issues, at a time when we should be moving forward to protect an individual’s home, personal property, and life,” Addabbo said. “I am hopeful that the Governor recognizes the importance of this legislation, which passed both houses again this year, finally signing the bill into law so we may proactively address future events impacting our communities.” 

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