Plans for Storm-Surge Barriers Could Pose Threat to Environment, According to Environmental Attorneys

New York Harbor Storm-Surge Barrier

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been working on a plan for New York and New Jersey since 2016 to prevent another natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy, but environmental advocates say they are not considering environmentally-friendly solutions.

(NEW YORK, NY) — In 2013, the city received 15$ billion in Hurricane Sandy relief, but less than half has been used so far in order to reconstruct and protect the city from future disasters.

The slow process for a solution will come to an end next January, when the U.S. Army Corps pick a “tentatively selected plan,” to preventing future damage to the city from natural disasters.

But environmental attorneys argue that not enough attention has been given to providing an environmentally-friendly solution.

“The idea that the corps at this point would select a plan to focus on without taking into account in a real way the environmental impacts that can happen across this estuary is a huge concern,” said Erin Doran, an attorney for environmental watchdog Riverkeeper, to Crain’s New York Business.

Two of the four possible storm-surge barrier plan configurations made so far by the Army Corps feature either 1-mile-long, 22-foot-high gates north of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, or 5-mile-long, 46-foot-high gates in the outer New York Harbor. Estimated costs, according to, range from 32$ billion to 119$ billion.

Environmental attorneys argue this could lead to rising sea levels and harm current ecological patterns in the area, like tidal wave disruptions.

“The tide is the heartbeat and respiration of the Hudson,” Riverkeeper’s John Lipscomb told “It brings salt from the ocean and oxygenates the water.”

Riverkeeper also demands that an environmental analysis be made and strongly considered in the future plan, rather than focusing mostly on the best natural disaster solution.

The Army Corps however is ignoring such demands, saying that a focus on storms is a mandate from Congress. The Army Corps said they will make a holistic environmental analysis, in a later, areawide, in-depth study, which will come after a recommendation of a plan to Congress in 2022. According to Crain’s New York Business, there is also a “broad level” environmental review due in draft form in March, which the Army Corps noted a few months ago in its interim report. The report addressed concerns raised by environmentalists and the public.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio is working closely with the Corps on the plan but has yet to state an opinion on the matter.

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