Last July, storms dropped more than a month’s worth of rain in the Hudson Valley, washing away the road to West Point, and causing deadly flooding across the Northeast.  

Just last month, coastal storms off the south shore of Long Island downed trees and utility lines and caused what some people have called the worst flooding since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

This repeated flooding and rebuilding, and flooding and rebuilding is costing taxpayers a fortune. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that just protecting the New York City area from coastal storms will cost $52.6 billion. That price tag doesn’t include this summer’s flooding in the Hudson Valley or flooding along Lake Ontario or the massive snowstorms that the city of Buffalo has had to contend with over the past few years.

New York state Sen. Liz Krueger has introduced a bill that would make corporations foot much of the bill for cleaning up after storms like these. It’s called the Climate Change Superfund Act (S.2129-A.3351). The bill is modeled after the federal Superfund program and would require oil and gas companies to pay $3 billion a year over 25 years to help the state offset the effects of climate change.

Not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.

“We don’t support it,” Ken Pokalsky, vice president of the Business Council of New York State, told Capital Tonight last year. “It’s hard to imagine that New York state is going to pass a law that tells oil companies they owe us $85 billion.”

Pokalsky also pointed to what he claims is a “false narrative” around the bill, that the costs of climate change won’t impact the average household or small business. 

But there are advocates for the bill.

Cate Rogers, the deputy supervisor of East Hampton, on Long Island, feels strongly that the state should pass the act and has joined 100 of her fellow municipal leaders to push for passage. 

Rogers told Capital Tonight that rebuilding after these storms will cause communities like hers to go “broke."

“We lost an entire beach front, a beach called Ditch Plains, and we had severe damage to an already very costly beach stabilization project in our downtown business area where the entire stabilization project was exposed,” Rogers said. “For dollar numbers, we’re looking at least $6 million to put sand back for Ditch Plains. And that’s not just to provide a recreational beach, that’s to protect the neighborhoods and the homeowners from future inundation.”

While the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act passed last year will provide some relief, it’s not enough, according to Rogers.

“Really what that does is force communities all across New York that have suffered damage…to compete for their residents, for their constituents for this limited amount of money,” Rogers said. “And that puts everybody in an awful position and quite frankly is completely unfair that we should be competing for money.”

Rogers wrote a guess essay on the topic for City & State, which can be found here.