Bloomberg BNA

Rebuilding in hurricane sandy aftermath should be climate-resilient, report says

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The region hit by Hurricane Sandy should be rebuilt with a focus on resilient infrastructure that can withstand future storms and other climate risks, an interagency task force said in a report released Aug. 19.

The need for climate-resilient infrastructure was among 69 policy recommendations made by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force as part of its strategy for rebuilding in the aftermath of the October 2012 hurricane.

The rebuilding strategy developed by the task force is intended to serve as a national model for communities facing risks from extreme weather.

The strategy said investments in large-scale infrastructure projects should take a regional approach to rebuilding. It also proposed several guidelines to ensure those projects are built to withstand the impacts of climate change, including the use of forward-looking scientific data on potential risks and the need for environmentally sustainable and innovative solutions.

Energy infrastructure, in particular, should be strengthened to minimize power outages and fuel shortages and ensure continuation of telecommunications during future storms, according to the report.

Already Being Adopted

President Obama established the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force through an executive order on Dec. 7, 2012, to develop a long-term rebuilding strategy that identified and addressed obstacles to climate resiliency. The task force, which includes almost two dozen federal agencies and programs, is chaired by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.

“This Rebuilding Strategy will protect families, small businesses, and communities across the region, and the taxpayers' investment in them, from the risks posed by sea level rise and more extreme weather events--risks that are made worse by the reality of a changing climate,” Donovan said in a statement.

Many of the strategy's recommendations have already been adopted.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for example, have developed a sea level rise projection tool as part of the rebuilding plan's recommendation for providing data on current and long-term risks posed by climate change (128 DER A-17, 7/3/13).

To implement the remaining recommendations, the strategy set major milestones for each one and established regular checkpoints for interagency coordination.

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