WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced S.5185, the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2022, legislation that would expand and improve the system of vulnerable coastal areas protected under the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA).
Specifically, the legislation would implement a total of 11 new and 184 updated CBRA maps transmitted to Congress by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Many of these proposed updates are the result of a years-long FWS project that followed Hurricane Sandy. The legislation also includes a new coastal hazard pilot project to identify areas that could be added to the Coastal Barrier Resources System and clarifies the implications of protecting areas under CBRA, particularly as it relates to flood insurance.
“As climate change continues to fuel stronger hurricanes and other extreme weather events, we must do more to protect our coastal communities from its costly impacts,” said Senator Carper. “Fortunately, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act allows us to do so in a way that has clear economic and conservation benefits. For years, the law has helped us save taxpayer money, make communities more resilient, and preserve critical habitats by not encouraging new development in vulnerable, low-lying areas. Our bipartisan Strengthening Coastal Communities Act would build on this success.”
“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.”
“For 40 years, this law has saved lives, saved tax dollars, and preserved the places that birds and people need on our coasts,” said Brian Moore, vice president of coastal policy at National Audubon Society. “It’s time now to expand those protections to more areas, to ensure that CBRA can keep delivering benefits in the face of climate change.”
“The Strengthening Coastal Communities Act builds on the common sense approach of the original Coastal Barrier Resources Act. Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize high-risk development along the nation’s coasts. Senators Carper and Graham should be applauded for their work to strengthen and evaluate new areas to add to the system, further protecting taxpayers. An expanded Coast Barrier Resources System makes sense particularly in light of spiraling disaster costs and climate change driven sea level rise,” said Stephen Ellis, president of Tax Payers for Common Sense.
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.