For Immediate Release: August 29, 2013
Roger Downs, Sierra Club, 518-426-9144
Marcy Benstock, Clean Air Campaign/Open Rivers Project (212)582-2578
WILL NY GOV CUOMO REDUCE DAMAGE FROM FUTURE SANDYS?
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed a bill allowing development on piers in "Coastal High Hazard Areas" on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. This bill, S.2680, passed the New Jersey legislature in June. Five groups are urging NY Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto a similar bill that encourages high-risk, in-water development at dozens of sites in a Category #1 hurricane evacuation zone on the New York side of the Hudson River - the Sierra Club, NYPIRG, Friends of the Earth, Clean Air Campaign and its Open Rivers Project, and NY/NJ Baykeeper.
Gov. Christie's 8/19/13 veto message declared that the NJ pier development bill would "jeopardize National Flood Insurance Program ('NFIP') eligibility" for municipalities with piers in the Hudson River and said "I cannot condone such a risk." The national issue at stake with both governors' decisions is how best to reduce the loss of life and property damage from superstorms and hurricanes like Sandy -- and how to reduce the costs of future disasters and dependence on federal disaster relief.
"The vast stretch of Hudson River waters were New York's A.8031/S.5824 bill would promote development has been officially designated the highest risk hurricane evacuation zone," said Roger Downs of the Sierra Club. "This bill also jeopardizes up to 490 acres of environmentally critical marine habitat of extraordinary national importance. If Gov. Cuomo is serious about reducing damage from the next catastrophic storms he will veto this bill."
"New York's financial health will also be threatened if this bill is approved," said Marcy Benstock, Director of Clean Air Campaign and its Open Rivers Project. "This bill authorizes backdoor borrowing and other risky, complex financing schemes to build in the river through an unaccountable State public authority and its private contractual partners. This bill's 'assignment contracts' provisions do that," Benstock said.
"This legislation will also shift liability from storm and hurricane damage, and other harms in and along the Hudson River to taxpayers throughout NY State," Benstock added. "There is no legitimate reason for the City and State to assume these risks, since many sites for development area available at higher, dryer, much safer upland locations."
"This bill would be a fiscal, environmental and public safety disaster," Downs concluded. "Unless Governor Cuomo vetoes A.8031 he will put more New Yorkers in harm's way."