Senate Votes to Protect Additional 17,000 Acres of U.S. Coastline
NEW YORK — December 20, 2018
Benefits Go to Shorebirds, Local Economies and Taxpayers Nationwide
“This is good news for both people and birds who live along the coasts because between rising seas and saturating hurricanes, the best answer right now is not concrete walls and sandbags, it’s naturally resilient coasts,” said David Yarnold, President and CEO of National Audubon Society. “Since it was signed into law by President Reagan in 1982, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act has kept more than 3 million acres of flood- and storm-prone shoreline natural, buffering nearby communities and shielding taxpayers from the costs of recovery and redevelopment. It is gratifying to see Congress giving this commonsense program the upgrades it needs.”
Late last night, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 5787, the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2018, which will preserve an additional 17,000 coastal acres in storm-prone states, including North and South Carolina, Delaware and Florida. The bill amends the 1982 Coastal Barrier Resources Act, which removes federal support for risky development, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The bill now goes to the President.
Roughly 3.5 million acres of barrier islands, beaches and wetlands along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Caribbean are included in the current Coastal Barrier Resources System, which:
Supports outdoor economies, ecotourism and fishing industries in 21 states and territories by preserving natural shorelines;
Has saved U.S. taxpayers billions in federal expenditures;
“Coastal birds like the Ring-billed Gull and Wilson’s Plovers have fewer and fewer places to feed and raise their young due to human development and the effects of a changing climate like rising seas and shifting food sources,” said Dr. Karen Hyun VP, Coastal Conservation for the National Audubon Society. “But in these protected CBRA areas, we already see some species rebuilding their populations, including the Red Knot, American Oystercatcher and Piping Plover. Today’s vote is good news for all of the birds and people who share these coastal ecosystems.”
A forthcoming study from the Journal of Coastal Research concludes that CBRA saved taxpayers $9.5 billion between 1989 and 2013. This conservative estimate is based on expenditures from four of the federal agencies whose development and rebuilding subsidies are withheld from CBRA-protected areas – FEMA, DOT, EPA and HUD. The study projects that over the next 50 years, CBRA could save taxpayers ten times the amount that it already has.
Audubon’s fact sheet on CBRA: https://www.audubon.org/sites/default/files/cbra_fact_sheet.pdf.
More about coastal resilience: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/coastal-resilience.