Nelson files bill to provide loans to Florida cities affected by climate change

According to a news release from the U.S. Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today "to help coastal areas prepare for the effects of climate change."

The release says Nelson's proposal would make federal financing available to communities who need to upgrade their infrastructure to address climate change-related events, such as tidal flooding, beach erosion or saltwater intrusion caused by sea level rise.  Communities could apply for the assistance through state-run revolving loan programs funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), according to the release.

“Florida is ground zero for sea level rise,” said Nelson in the release.  “We’re experiencing firsthand the damage it can cause and are increasingly having to find ways to address it.”

Miami Beach is among the first cities in Florida to take action to mitigate climate change impacts. The city is in the midst of spending $500 million to install water pumps, raise roads and construct higher sea walls to combat the flooding caused by sea level rise.  Miami Beach’s experience with sunny day flooding stands as a cautionary tale of what can happen to other coastal communities if local governments don’t begin upgrading their infrastructure to address rising seas.

In addition to offering loans, Nelson’s legislation would:

  • Direct the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Standards and Technology to conduct research and provide grants to improve building codes to account for extreme weather related to climate change;
  • Create a prize competition for new techniques to improve natural, nature-based and nonstructural shoreline risk reduction measures; and
  • Direct NOAA to conduct a review of existing research on the use and effectiveness of natural, nature-based and nonstructural approaches to reduce flood risk.

Nelson said he hopes to get his measure included in the larger $1.5 trillion infrastructure package sought by the president and congressional leaders. 

Data compiled for the sea level rise estimates above is from NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer, last viewed on 4/25/18, available at https://coast.noaa.gov/slr/#/layer/sce/0/-9666455.629268404/3346284.1391863422/7/satellite/81/0.8/2050/interHigh/midAccretion

Click here for a copy of Nelson’s bill.

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