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As climate change worsens, a Long Island task force starts planning coastal resiliency projects

Courtesy of Suffolk County Executive
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

Suffolk County will spend $1 million to plan coastal resiliency projects as the impact of climate change intensifies over the next 50 years.

County Executive Steve Bellone said the plan will be based on recommendations from a task force of environmentalists who will identify ways to protect Long Island from extreme weather and rising sea level.

“This is the beginning,” Bellone said. “We are stepping forward here on coastal resiliency because we know what is happening, we know what is coming. We are listening to the science.”

This task force was convened days after a United Nation report showed that some of the impacts of climate change are irreversible. Environmentalists who joined Bellone said the report reinforces the need to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that make Long Island and the rest of the planet hotter and wetter.

“This funding will allow us to move forward critical projects that will protect our communities from dangerous weather conditions,” Bellone said.

The task force will identify how frequent flooding, heavy rains and storm surge would impact homes, roads and storm water infrastructure. Their recommendations will be targeted at projects that would reduce recurring expenses that keep Suffolk County’s nearly 1,000 miles of coastline intact.

The $1 million in coastal resiliency funding is coming out of the county’s Wastewater Infrastructure fund, which was created in the 2022 budget with $125 million.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.