WaterLog Update (2/14):
Remembering Rich Ring
This week we lost a great friend and team member, Rich Ring, and we’d like to honor him in this issue of WaterLog. In addition to serving as Warwick Group Consultants’ Senior Water Policy & Economic Advisor for nearly 6 years, Rich was a father, US Army Veteran, and continued to serve his country into retirement. Members of the Corps remember Rich from his extensive experience working as an economist at the New England District for 28 years and the North Atlantic Division where he served for 7 years. He went on to become the lead economist at NAD and for the National Planning Center of Expertise for Coastal Storm Risk Management. Rich will be missed for his kind heart, lovable laughter, and the best Boston accent you’ve ever heard. He was a family man, a best friend to many and a respected colleague to all. Click here to read Rich’s obituary.
NEWS AT COASTAL STRATEGIES
It was great to see familiar faces at FSBPA last week. We appreciate many of you coming out to hear us speak about the opportunities to protect our coasts at a reduced cost, or with private finance. If you have a project in your area that you think needs attention, please reach out and we’ll get you connected with the most qualified team of engineers to suit your project, and help you plan, finance and build your project.
Interested in learning about ways to fund coastal projects? Please come see us at our next event - MARK YOUR CALENDARS – Washington, DC, March 11-13th: We’ll be sponsoring the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association’s Coastal Summit, along with the Coastal Celebration (hosted by the Coastal States Organization and ASBPA) that follows immediately after Wednesday’s events (March 13th). We’ll see you there! Registration is still open. Following the event, Coastal Strategies will be hosting a webinar on “Investing in Resilience Coasts” where you can learn about the types of financing instruments available on the market today.
Let’s get to it…
While Trump was not happy with the bipartisan decision made about border security, he will sign it. Today, Mitch McConnell announced that Trump would not only sign the bill allocating $1.375 billion to a physical barrier, but that he would also declare a national emergency, giving him full authority to reprogram Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works funding. The new bill includes funding for the border wall, but at nearly 20% of the original $5.7 billion that was asked for. The reality is that he will now be getting (in his mind) 2 victories: (1) a congressional victory because he got Congress to decide to provide funding for his wall, and (2) he will be able to supplement the level of funding from the bill (H. J. Res 31) with his national emergency declaration. According to Trump during the last shutdown, your disaster projects will be ok, but things change quickly in Washington, so keep an eye out for that reassurance again.
If everything plays out according to plan there are some tricky dynamics – we have a Joint Resolution to continue to fund the government and provide $1.375 billion to the border wall (NOTE: under the authority of this bill, no funds can be allocated until DHS and local elected officials have reached a mutual agreement on the design and alignment of physical barriers, AND consultations between DHS and local elected officials may continue until September 30th, 2019, or until an agreement has been reached), then, immediately after signing H. J. Res 31, Trump will declare a national emergency, essentially opening the door to billions of unclaimed or unspent dollars that can be used for the border wall. Finally, if Congress can move forward with HR 1137, which amends the 1986 authority of the Water Resources Development Act to safeguard civil works disaster funds, then we’ll have a big court battle that could be stalling construction even further. Legislators from all over the nation have introduced their own bills to prevent money being diverted from projects in their districts:
Coastal News in Congress
National - In a letter, 36 Senators urge EPA to extend comment period for proposed WOTUS rule.
Florida - Marco Rubio, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott urged President Trump in a letter to include the Everglades restoration project in his FY20 Presidential Budget Request. Congressman Rooney also met with the Army Corps Major General Scott Spellmon to advocate for Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration and introduced a resolution to urge for proactive planning to mitigate future effects of sea-level rise and increased flooding.
New Hampshire - Rep. Pappas from New Hampshire urged for federal investment in the first House T&I meeting of the 116th Congress.
New York – Senator Schumer says that the ‘seawall is going to get built’ in a press conference in Staten Island, NY. Originally proposed in 2015 after Hurricane Sandy, the wall will extend from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach on the East Shore. First, for the Corps to build in that territory, it will need access to Gateway National Park to allow for future operation and maintenance of the seawall. Schumer already has secured $730 million which currently sits in a ‘storm mitigation account’. In addition to the sea wall, the Corps may also build a levee.
Corps of Engineers
Coastal Engineering Board Meeting - The Corps will hold a public meeting to review past action items, status reports, research and development strategic directions and coastal engineering research in the United States. The meeting location is Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport Hotel, 1600 East Beach Blvd., Gulfport, MS 39501.
New CRS report: The Disaster Relief Fund: Overview and Issues
New Bills in Congress
Signed into law - Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act - “This law reauthorizes a program that has saved more than 67 million acres of tropical forest by allowing developing countries that meet certain criteria to be relieved of debt owed to the United States in exchange for their conservation efforts. In addition, this legislation expands these efforts to coral reef ecosystems. To date, the TFCA program has sequestered 56 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking 11.8 million cars off the road.” - From the office of Bob Portman.
Here is a curated list of federal coastal grants currently available.
Did you miss…
(Read the report here) – Pages 2 and 3
How are we doing? Please let us know your comments by emailing Dan at email@example.com .
Thanks for relying on WaterLog for your coastal policy news!
Howard Marlowe & Dan Ginolfi
1717 K St, NW Washington, DC 20006