Obama plan offers help to U.S. cities on climate's front lines

Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:57pm EDT
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* Urban leaders already dealing with climate impact

* Superstorm Sandy offers lessons on adaptation

* One mayor sees increased natural disasters as "emergency"

By Environment Correspondent Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's climate plan on Tuesday offered help to U.S. cities dealing with natural disasters and specifically for the region slammed by massive Superstorm Sandy in October.

For Dawn Zimmer, mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey the plan came not a moment too soon.

Hoboken, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, was in the bull's eye of Sandy last October, when storm surges flooded 80 percent of the city, causing $100 million in property damage to 1,700 homes and hundreds of businesses. Since then, the city of 52,000 has weathered three more major flood events.

"For me, this is an emergency," Zimmer said. "Whether you believe in (climate change) or not, and I definitely do, we're seeing the impact of it on the local level."

In addition to proposals to cut pollution from power plants and boost fuel efficiency, the White House on Tuesday directed federal agencies to cut bureaucratic red tape to support local climate-resilient investment.   Continued...