Congressmen Graves and Moulton Introduce COASTS Act

Photo by Hank Heusinkveld, USACE

Congressmen Garret Graves and Seth Moulton yesterday introduced the Creating Opportunity and Sustainability Through Science (COASTS) Act, which will help ensure that coastal communities are more resilient and sustainable in the face of coastal degradation.

Specifically, this legislation:

  • Directs the Secretary of Commerce, through NOAA, to develop and carry out a competitive grant program focused on interdisciplinary coastal resilience and sustainability;
  • Requires that the grant program prioritize scalable, best practices that can be replicated in coastal cities and towns throughout the country;
  • Codifies into law an advisory panel comprised of marine scientists, researchers, and representatives of coastal communities to coordinate federal ocean research and coastal resiliency efforts.

We saw last year just how important coastal protection and resilience efforts are to our coastal communities,” said Graves. 

Almost annually, the federal government comes in after disasters and spends billions on recovery efforts, and 2017 was no exception: in many coastal areas, communities are still fighting to recover from Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria.

“What if we didn’t have to rebuild every time there was a disaster? It’s possible. At a fraction of current disaster costs, we could invest in projects that strengthen the resiliency of our coastal communities and ecosystems before disasters strike – helping avoid the loss of life and property and preventing having to come in on the back-end and spending twice as much to rebuild.

“The COASTS Act lays out a framework to make these types of investments so that America’s thriving coastal areas are better prepared to withstand disasters, especially major hurricanes and flooding.”

Over forty percent of the American population lives near the coast, and according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), that number is expected to increase by an additional 10 million people, or eight percent, by 2020.

Despite the growing number of Americans residing in coastal communities, these areas are facing unprecedented threats from sea-level rise, coastal ecosystem degradation, and extreme weather events.

Without smart investments in coastal resiliency and adaptability, flooding in cities and towns is expected to cause damages totaling billions of dollars annually by the year 2050.