The Inflation Reduction Act, newly passed by the U.S. Senate, allocates $369 Billion to fight climate change, and appropriates funds specifically for coastal areas – like New York’s – facing climate change’s immediate impacts.
$2.6 billion dollars are being set aside to help coastal states build up their resilience to ever worsening hurricanes, floods and rising sea levels.
Jessie Ritter – senior director of water resources and coastal policy at the National Wildlife Federation – says this could help prevent “billion dollar disasters,” which will intensify during the upcoming hurricane season.
“2022 was predicted by the National Weather Service to see above average hurricane activity,” said Ritter. “And we know the impact of a certain storm can last for many, many years as we saw post-Sandy. And as we’re actually now still seeing, as communities continue to struggle to recover from recent storms like Ida and Maria.”
Many coastal areas have developed management plans to build up their shoreline’s natural defenses to impending climate catastrophes. However, high costs have been a detriment to bringing these plans to fruition.
The money stemming from this bill will help develop those plans further, and allow for technical assistance to improve them.
Ritter said she hopes the immediate impacts of this bill result in coastal states evaluating the infrastructure being developed as resilient to future effects of climate change.
This funding will also provide communities with an ability to alert people pre-disaster to evacuation routes and risks associated with certain coastal areas.
Ritter said she feels this bill’s funding is a unique opportunity to tackle the direct causes of climate change, while providing methods to address its symptoms.
“Getting this money out the door and into coastal communities as quickly as possible,” said Ritter, “can make a big difference for communities facing down potential for future hurricanes or other major storm events.”
Other funds allocated for climate change in the bill will reduce carbon emissions by 40% across the U.S. by 2030.
Ritter said she believes there is still more to do to bridge the gap of meeting the Biden Administration’s goal of 50%. She added that Congress really needs to continue stepping up.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.