WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee voted to advance the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act by a voice vote. The legislation, introduced by EPW Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would amend and reauthorize the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) and codify maps to update and add units to the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS).
Specifically, the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act would codify 195 updated or new maps that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has transmitted to Congress for the CBRS. The bill would also authorize $5 million in annual appropriations for the program through fiscal year 2028.
“We are seeing firsthand how climate change is fueling stronger, more devastating storms that threaten coastal states, including Delaware,” said Chairman Carper. “The Strengthening Coastal Communities Act would make much-needed updates to the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, providing us with the tools to make communities more resilient while preserving habitat and saving taxpayer money. I thank Senator Graham and our colleagues for moving this important legislation one step closer to becoming law.”
“The Strengthening Coastal Communities Act makes important updates to Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) maps impacting South Carolina and allows for increased local input as additional maps are considered,” said Senator Graham. “I am proud to work with my colleagues and Chairman Carper to move this legislation forward and protect vulnerable land from coastal hazards such as flooding and storm surge.”
“Birds and people urgently need more protection on our coasts from storms and flooding. This bill meets that challenge by maximizing the benefits of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act while saving the federal taxpayer millions of dollars,” said Portia Mastin, coastal conservation policy manager at the National Audubon Society.
Originally enacted in 1982 by President Reagan, CBRA encourages the conservation of storm-prone and dynamic coastal barrier land known as the Coastal Barrier Resources System. The Coastal Barrier Resources System currently consists of 585 defined areas along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico coasts. In addition to helping protect millions of acres of wildlife habitat, most notably for migratory bird species, the CBRA also saves taxpayers from the costs of developing in these high-risk areas. The law does so by removing the eligibility for federal funding and financial assistance, such as flood insurance, in the legally defined maps that comprise the Coastal Barrier Resources System.