City Council Speaker Christine Quinn laid out a massive $20 billion proposal Tuesday to combat the effects of climate change on New York City’s infrastructure as the region continues to assess damage and plan clean-up after Hurricane Sandy.
“At this moment the need for action cannot be ignored,” said Quinn, who outlined her plan at a breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York, a nonprofit coalition of business, labor and political leaders.
Quinn remains the 2013 mayoral frontrunner and this proposal, coming just one week after the 2012 general election, may signal how presumed and declared candidates in the race for the city’s highest office will have to tackle the tough questions about what to rebuild and how to pay for it.
The plan was framed around two key issues: how to prevent flooding and how to safeguard infrastructure. It includes studies to assess what solutions – from manmade sea walls to natural defenses like sand dunes – could best protect the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.
Two of those studies, which Quinn said would become a “blueprint for action,” will now be completed by April 2013.
Among the proposals to reinforce the city’s power delivery systems, Quinn said New York City should require utilities to bury underground wires in vulnerable neighborhoods in Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx. Her office said such a move could be done through the Council or the mayor’s office.
But it’s not an idea Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks is realistic.
“I don’t know where the money would come from,” Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference Tuesday on Hurricane Sandy, but he added that if someone could find the money to do it would be great.
Shortly after the speech, Quinn’s office sent out a round of glowing endorsements from environmental leaders and climate change experts, including the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Urban Green Council and experts from NASA, Columbia, CUNY and SUNY Stony Brook.