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    Bills Signed Into Law

Maloney Introduces Bills to Protect Hudson Valley Environment, River Infrastructure, and River Communities

May 20, 2020
Press Release

Maloney Introduces Bills to Protect Hudson Valley Environment, River Infrastructure, and River Communities

Newburgh, NY – Today, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) introduced two bills aimed at supporting the Hudson Valley ecosystem and improving New York’s water infrastructure, the Hudson River Climate Change Protection Act, and the Dam Safety Improvement Act.  Both bills are expected to be included in the House’s soon-to-be-introduced Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a legislative package that authorizes studies and projects within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works mission areas, including: navigation; flood, hurricane, storm damage reduction; shoreline protection; and ecosystem restoration.

“Folks in the Hudson Valley are gatekeepers of the Hudson River - it is our home and our economic engine. We are blessed to live by its shores, and it’s our job to protect and preserve those shores for generations to come,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “As Congress gets closer to introducing our next major water infrastructure package, I’m fighting to ensure my bills are included, so we can effectively respond to climate change, fix our failing water infrastructure, and protect every New Yorker who lives and works on the river.”

The Hudson River Climate Change Protection Act

The Hudson River Climate Change Protection Act will help address the local impact of rising sea-levels by authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to study both this threat, and the threat of hurricane damage in coastal communities throughout the country. According to the federal U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), sea levels along the coasts of New York State have risen by about 13 inches since 1880, and are projected to rise another 1-to-4 feet by 2100. The rising sea levels will increase the frequency and severity of flooding, putting communities and coastal ecosystems along the Hudson River, an extension of the Atlantic Ocean, at risk.   

The Hudson River Climate Change Protection Act is co-led by Reps. Nydia Velazquez (NY-7) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). It is supported by several New York environmental organizations, including Riverkeeper and Waterfront Alliance:

“It has never been more urgent to address the increasing threats of sea level rise and climate change to the New York/New Jersey region and the Hudson River ecosystem. We must study and implement multi-layered, multi-faceted solutions to these critical problems while engaging directly affected communities and protecting ecosystems services. The Army Corps of Engineers has had limited authority to properly address these issues in the New York/New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Study. Riverkeeper appreciates Representatives Maloney, Velazquez, and Espaillat's leadership and support in introducing the Hudson River Climate Change Protection Act to expand the Corps' authority to perform a robust study of solutions that fully incorporate sea level rise and ecosystem services and require community engagement. We expect other elected officials to support this important and necessary legislation,” said Jessica Roff, Director of Advocacy and Engagement, Riverkeeper.

“The nation's economy is concentrated along our shores, with much of its engine located in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. Facing up to six feet of sea level rise or more by the end of the century, and an upcoming hurricane season, reducing our coastal risk has never been more important, and the impetus for our convening of a coalition, Rise to Resilience, to spur action. In the Hudson River Climate Change Protection Act, the Waterfront Alliance is thankful for Representatives Maloney, Velazquez, and Espaillat's leadership in lifting an encumbering weight on the US Army Corps of Engineers. Taxpayer money should be spent wisely, and enabling the Corps to look at all types of flooding including sea level rise in a study about flooding just makes common sense, as does engaging the communities these projects are intended to serve,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO, Waterfront Alliance.

Read the bill here.

The Dam Safety Improvement Act

The Dam Safety Improvement Act will build on the success of the High-Hazard Dam Rehabilitation Program by expanding eligibility of funds for the repair and rehabilitation of high-hazard dams. This important program was created by Rep. Maloney’s Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act, which was signed into law in 2016. New York State has the 8th most high-hazard dams in the country totaling 403, with nearly 100 of those dams in the Hudson Valley. The average age of America’s 90,000+ dams is 56 years old. Maintaining this critical infrastructure will save lives.

“Dams play a vital role in protecting our communities and in our economy, but are in dire need of more investment and rehabilitation due to age and deterioration,” said K.N. Gunalan “Guna”, Ph.D., PE, President, American Society of Civil Engineers. “According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, $20.42 billion is needed to repair and rehabilitate the nation’s non-federal high hazard potential dams. Fully funding the High-Hazard Dam Rehabilitation Program is one of the ways we can raise the dismal “D” dams grade. We are grateful that the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee proposed changes to the program to help it run more smoothly in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, and thank Congressman Maloney for introducing these proposed changes in the House for this critical life-saving program. We urge Congress to follow suit and pass these proposed changes.” 

Yesterday, two high-hazard potential dams in central Michigan broke, flooding communities and forcing the evacuation of 10,000 residents. Michigan’s governor warned the downtown of Midland, an impacted community, could be under nine feet of water in the coming day.

Read the bill here.

Rep. Maloney serves on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. He has been a long-time champion of environmental protection measures and has worked to protect and improve infrastructure in river communities up and down the Hudson River.