February 20, 2013
Marc Bussanich

Senator Charles Schumer told the audience at an event in Lower Manhattan that the fight to rebuild and protect New York post-Hurricane Sandy has just begun. He warned the fight for billions of dollars to protect the city from future devastating storms would be even harder than the fight for the $60 billion just secured because far right politicos oppose government spending for disaster relief.  Read More and Watch Video

Schumer called on business and labor leaders in the audience to start applying pressure on Congress to ensure that New York receives the billions it’ll need to build new structures to prevent or minimize catastrophic damage that’s inevitable from rising seas and a warming climate.

“We have to be ready to mobilize and mobilize quickly. Our fight’s just beginning. It’s a fight that all New Yorkers need to part of. We’re going to need to rally the same forces we did to get the $60 billion both from the governmental side and the business and labor side. There’s no greater task facing us,” said Schumer.

But while Schumer acknowledged that climate change poses a very dangerous threat to the city’s shorelines and inhabitants, he did not mention during his presentation any efforts or legislation to combat rising greenhouse gases that could spare New York from spending billions on structures such as sea gates to prevent storm surges.

Last week Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced legislation to combat climate change that would impose a fee on carbon pollution to fund investments in technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

LaborPress asked Schumer if he supports the legislation, but said he hadn’t read it to be able to comment.

Schumer believes the best possible method to secure additional billions from the feds is for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete a comprehensive study that includes recommendations to better protect the tri-state area.

“I made sure that Congress provided money in the Sandy bill [for the study],” Schumer said.

He doesn’t think that competing rebuilding and defensive plans from the city, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut will help the tri-state area persuade the feds for billions.

“We can’t have three or four competing plans. There must be one comprehensive and central plan, and we need that soon. The [Army Corps] study should be our North Star because it’ll deliver a true regional protection plan that demands resources from the federal government and specifies recommendations that will immediately lead to federally-authorized projects,” Schumer said.

Another glaring omission in Schumer’s speech was mention of using federal money to help protect ordinary New Yorkers living in vulnerable communities from future storms. Instead, he emphasized the need to protect the city’s business community.

“If we are going to maintain our top spot as the destination for finance, entrepreneurs and world class talent, we have to do everything to signal that we will stay open for business. We have to make them understand that protecting our business communities and our business districts will be a top priority,” said Schumer. 




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