November 3, 2012

MEGAN MCARDLE: Should We Build Massive Flood Gates in New York Harbor? “The third set of facts to keep in mind is that whatever you would like to do, the current environmental law framework means that the costlier the project, the longer the time for the design development and approval stage. Imagine that George Bush had made the protection of New Orleans his highest priority on the day he took office in 2001. It is highly unlikely that any of the structures that he wanted to build would have even reached the construction stage by the time that Katrina struck. Reviews and approvals just take enormous amounts of time when you are using federal funds, and the grander the scale of the project, the grander the scale of the review. Trying to build large protective structures in the New York City area–structures that will have long term effects on the ecosystem of the harbor area–will require extensive data gathering and analysis and the resolution of many court cases. If we were to start today on the implementation of some of the major structural proposals that are envisioned, it is unlikely that construction would commence for more than a decade, at the very, very earliest.”