NFIP Expiration (4 days)
Government Shutdown (11 days)
The Work Plan is OUT!!! Click Here to view it. Here are this year’s totals:
|FY2019 Work Plan Totals|
|Operation & Maintenance||$3,739,500,000|
|Mississippi River & Tributaries||$368,000,000|
Click Here for our table of beach funding for 2019. There is an extra few million added to the Investigations and Construction accounts that were not expected. There are 6 new starts but no coastal new study or construction starts. Congress can’t earmark, but it can do its best via language in appropriations committee reports to tell the Administration about priorities. The problem is that the folks in the Assistant Secretary’s office and their minders at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) don’t have to abide by those requests and there’s nothing the elected in Congress can do about it.
The Corps’ non-federal partners are its most important partners, without them they have no projects and without projects, the Corps has no business. Well, this year the Corps’, the ASA and the long-armed OMB have done a great job to piss away the hard efforts made by its most important partners in a number of coastal states. This happened in the case of the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study, which was supposed to be one of the ‘New Starts’. This regional initiative was kicked-off nearly 3 years ago by a Corps District Commander who was trying to do what the Corps doesn‘t do best – outreach and listening to the needs and concerns of its coastal partners. Several Federal agencies and all eight Great Lakes states joined forces in developing priorities for a resilience study that reflected their mutual economic, environmental and social needs. When Congress surprised everyone by passing its Corps budget before the start of the new fiscal year, Corps HQ lit a fire under the Coastal States Organization (representing state coastal zone managers) and the Corps Districts to get letters of support updated and resubmitted from each of the states within 48 hours! That was extended to 2 weeks. It wasn’t easy but with support from Congress, all or at least most of the states submitted their letters and the Corps Districts put together all the information HQ insisted on along with a temporary cost-sharing agreement. When the FY19 Work Plan was released last week, all of this was worth nothing. Despite language in the committee report, there was no funding for any regional watershed study to address coastal resiliency. Apparently Congress needed to say ‘You Must’ to the Administration or else its clear report language expressing a priority would be ignored.
For the limited number of items under ‘Flood Damage Reduction Coastal’, New Jersey takes the cake with nearly every dollar of the additional construction funding added by Congress going to NJ projects. 60% of the additional funding added by Congress for Investigations went to NJ Back Bays study, which was previously underfunded. With the new allocation, the project will be sure to look at and identify opportunities for living shorelines and natural features in NJ’s coastal resilience development.
There was only one report that was more timely than the less-than-24 hours-till-Thanksgiving Corps Work Plan, that was the Fourth National Climate Assessment, VOLUME II. Released at 2PM on Black Friday, the 1,656 page report illustrates a demoralizing picture of the future US economy. At the peril of the environment, our economy is poised to slip more than 10% by 2100 if climate change continues down its current path. So what’s new in this newly released edition?
- Nuisance Flooding – Localized flooding from high tides, wind and rain, is no longer theoretical. What used to be a phenomenon is now a weekly or month occurrence. Hide tides are now affecting daily business, local neighborhood transportation and ecosystems.
- The Web Effect – One small change here, can mean a big change there. The report details several examples of how drought in California, or a hurricane in New York, can cause lasting devastation.
- Effects on Trade – US suppliers have already been affected overseas storms, which damage smaller, less resilient communities which many suppliers rely on.
- Infrastructure Relocation – The report warns that the US is unprepared economically for an enormous migration of coastal and low-lying infrastructure to higher or drier land. IN addition, other legal financial and equity issues have not been addressed.
- Air Quality – The quality of air, not just the CO2 level, is expected to decrease. Changes in air quality could likely mean longer droughts, more fires and more negative externalities like health consequences.
While the Administration may do its best to undercut these findings, it will certainly have a tough time supporting its agenda for environmental deregulation as the findings in this report directly contest the fictional world some officials live in where climate change doesn’t exist.
New Coastal Bills
HRES 1157 – Reaffirms the strong commitment of the United States to the countries and territories of the Pacific Islands region. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Natural Resources.
HRES 1087 - Acknowledges the significance of sea-level rise and flooding throughout communities across the country and in Florida. Affirms the need for greater adaptation funding and the incorporation of historical flooding and sea-level rise projections into planning.
HR 237 – This bill amends the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation system Act of 2009. IOOS-18 is critical to people who rely on consistent and accurate ocean data for their lives and livelihoods. The data IOOS collects helps federal agencies like NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Environmental Protection Agency perform their everyday functions serving the public. Meanwhile, data collected by IOOS is also critical to our national and local economies. Ports, fishermen and seafood growers rely on this data, as well as emergency managers and researchers. The data collected by IOOS is utilized at all levels of our nation. From local fishermen to national agencies, IOOS provides taxpayers with the data required to support economies, research, and critical maritime safety.