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Harris, Murphy Applaud House Passage of Legislation to Help Protect Coastal Communities

December 10, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Tuesday applauded the House of Representatives after it passed the Living Shorelines Act, legislation that invests in protecting coastal communities from rising sea levels and stronger storms by creating a new grant program for nature-based shoreline protection projects known as living shorelines. In June, Senators Harris and Murphy introduced the Living Shorelines Act in the Senate. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“The United States is facing a climate crisis,” said Senator Harris. “As severe storms and flooding become more common – made worse by rising sea levels and increasing temperatures – we must take bold action to protect our coastal communities. And as we take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare communities for the climate change impacts we are already facing. That is why I am grateful for Congressman Pallone’s partnership on this issue and I applaud the House of Representatives for prioritizing the creation of living shorelines in order to protect our coasts. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation immediately.”

“As the sponsor of the Senate version of this bill, I want to applaud my friends in the House of Representatives, led by Congressman Pallone, for passing this important legislation. The Living Shorelines Act helps protect coastal communities along Long Island Sound, by sending money to towns that are working on environmentally friendly projects to fortify against future storms and rising sea levels. Senator Harris and I will work hard with our colleagues in the Senate to get this bill across the finish line,” said Senator Murphy.

“The Living Shorelines Act will help us protect our coastal communities from the effects of climate change, including more flooding from sea level rise and stronger hurricanes, by harnessing proven natural infrastructure solutions. The passage of this legislation by the U.S. House sends a clear message to Americans that Congress is serious about protecting coastal communities from the effects of the climate crisis,” Congressman Pallone said. “Since Superstorm Sandy, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make my home state of New Jersey more resilient against the effects of climate change. This legislation will provide additional help so communities can use living shorelines to effectively mitigate future flooding while benefiting local economies. Strengthening living shorelines will also improve the local environment by supporting water quality and habitats for local wildlife and fish as well as provide enhanced opportunities for recreation.”

Living shorelines are a type of green infrastructure that protect and stabilize coastal edges by using natural materials such as plants, sand, shell, or rock. Unlike a concrete seawall or other artificial structure, which impedes the growth of plants and animals, livingshorelines can grow over time, allowing them to adapt to changing conditions. Using green and natural infrastructure, communities can create a buffer that mitigates the impacts of shoreline flooding by reducing wave energy and decreasing erosion. Green infrastructure is cost-effective and can also provide benefits such as improved local water quality and ecology.

The Living Shorelines Act will:

·         Establish a grant program to help states, towns, and NGOs implement climate resilient living shoreline projects and encourage the use of natural materials in the protection of coastal communities;

·         Direct NOAA to develop criteria to select grantees based on the potential of the project to protect the community, and the ecological benefits of the project, among other things; 

·         Prioritize areas that have received a Stafford Act disaster declaration or areas that have a documented history of coastal inundation or erosion; and

·         Authorize $50 million a year for these grants.

Supporters of the Living Shorelines Act include The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Full bill text can be found here.


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