Last Updated on May 3, 2021 at 02:36 p.m. by Rachel Keylon
As the federal government plans a national infrastructure package, it must invest in resilient coastal communities. Coastal communities face sea level rise, intensifying storms, and other climate impacts, on top of existing coastal hazards, such as on-going erosion. Nineteen of the nation’s 35 coastal States and Territories have issued an initial list of almost 680 potential coastal infrastructure projects that could begin within the next 18 months totaling over a $6.08 billion investment and creating nearly 67,000 short-term jobs and almost 2,200 long-term jobs. The need for coastal resilience is enormous. Once every coastal State develops their potential coastal project list, the total cost for coastal infrastructure will undoubtedly greatly exceed $10 billion.
A bipartisan effort in Congress, led by the House Oceans Caucus, is seeking to include a $10 billion investment in coastal restoration and community resilience projects in infrastructure legislation. Coastal projects funded by this program will serve as economic stimulus to tourism dependent coastal communities that were deeply impacted by COVID-19, while also preparing them for future climate conditions. The Coastal States Organization (CSO), the collective voice for the nation’s coastal States, Commonwealths, and Territories on federal policy issues relating to coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean management, applauds this effort.
“State coastal zone management (CZM) programs know what projects their coastal communities’ need,” said Derek Brockbank, Executive Director of CSO. “Congress needs to invest in coastal infrastructure projects and provide increased capacity to the on-the-ground coastal program managers who can make these projects happen quickly and equitably. When it comes to climate resilience, we need to make sure all communities have the ability to prepare and adapt.”
In addition to a $10 billion investment in resilient coastal infrastructure in natural infrastructure legislation, CSO is asking Congress to increase annual appropriations for CZM ($88.5 million for Coastal Management Grants and $50.45 for Coastal Zone Management and Services in FY22), and provide increases to all of NOAA’s coastal and oceans resilience programs.
Since 1970, Coastal State Organization (CSO) has served as the collective voice for the nation’s coastal States, Commonwealths, and Territories on federal policy issues relating to coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean management. CSO members – the State and Territory CZM programs – partner with coastal communities, federal agencies, tribal governments, and industry for the safe and effective management, beneficial use, protection, and development of the coastal zone through the federal-state partnership established under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).
 16 U.S.C. § 1451 et seq.