The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) is seeking comments on a draft report that assesses the state’s vulnerability to rising sea levels allegedly caused by global warming. The report projects that sea levels in the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island region of the state will rise 2 to 5 inches by the 2020s and 12 to 23 inches by the end of this century. According to the draft report, New York Harbor has already experienced an increase in sea level of 15 inches over the past 150 years, including a rise of 4 to 6 inches since 1960.

The draft report recommends (i) taking legislative and regulatory steps to address rising sea levels, including revisions to the New York Environmental Quality Review Act, planning and zoning laws, the state building code, and wetland protection laws; (ii) requiring state agencies to factor anticipated rising sea levels into decision-making; (iii) classifying areas with significant flooding risks so they can implement risk-reduction measures; (iv) increasing reliance on “nonstructural measures and natural protective features” to reduce the impacts from coastal hazards; and (v) undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the public health risks associated with rising sea levels. The NYDEC will accept comments on the draft report until December 12, 2010