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Cuomo's Three Commissions Tackle Improving Infrastructure For Changing Climate

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Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that Hurricane Sandy is another example of the effects of climate change and he has now appointed three commissions to attempt to strengthen state infrastructure for future natural disasters. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says Hurricane Sandy showed New York State has to take climate change far more seriously.

"Seventeen days ago, we felt a new vulnerability for the first time," Cuomo said. "We must rethink and redesign for the long term because extreme weather, as we have learned, is the new normal."

On Thursday, the governor announced three new commissions charged with ensuring the state can literally weather another Sandy-like storm.

"The governor's appointing of the commissions is to take a comprehensive look in the way we respond to those emergencies, the way we prepare for those emergencies and then a long-term look at how we harden our systems in order to deal with the extreme weather patterns that seem to be hitting our state more frequently," said Howard Glaser, the director of state operations.

Everything is on the table, from seeing how to make subway tunnels resistant to flooding, to looking at how gas reaches the city to prevent long lines at the pump.

"You lost the fuel supply in New York for three days and the regional economy ground to a halt," Glaser said.

The city could get a storm barrier, but that could cost about $16 billion. Officials said that will be a topic for Cuomo's commission.

"Let's be clear, the cost of not taking these kind of actions is tremendous.," Glaser said.

There is no question that improvements to state infrastructure after Sandy would be expensive. But experts in the field say those improvements, both large and small, are a necessity and could cost less in the long term.

It is something Columbia University's Radley Horton has been studying for for years.

"I think Sandy did show we have a major vulnerability and our research suggests that we have had a foot of sea level rise in New York over the last century and we expect double that," said Horton. "So what we know is coastal flood risks are going to go up in the future."

The new Cuomo climate commissions will have to do their research quickly. Their first report is due immediately after the New Year.

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