The House has passed a supplemental bill – HR 2157:
$19.1 Billion dollars - A 12% increase from $17 billion in 2018 – What will next year’s be? We can only hope for fewer wildfires and fewer hurricanes, but there is a lot Congress can do to prepare for future expenditures (which we consider inevitable) in response to weather events and disasters. A few things Congress can do:
- Invest in coastal and urban resilience to mitigate flooding and other weather disasters (Continue reading below on OMB)
- Develop policy and financial framework to build a resilience market for investment in resilient infrastructure
- Amend the NFIP to discourage bad practices like severe repetitive losses and incentivize homeowners to buy in less risky places or be bought-out
There’s a lot of talk, but not a lot of doing, and that results in multi-billion-dollar supplementals. Nonetheless spending bills and supplementals provide an opportunity for lawmakers on both sides to find common ground. Let’s take a closer look at the figures – here is a breakdown of the Corps’ share of supplemental funding:
House Version of the Corps Civil Works Program Supplemental Funding FY19
|Mississippi River and Tributaries||
|Operations and Maintenance||
|Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies||
Meanwhile, a bipartisan Senate bill could be in the works to release up to $16 billion in already-appropriated funds from HUD that have been caught up in red tape for well over a year because HUD hasn’t finished writing implementation guidance.
OMB – Carper said it nicely…
We’ve talked about the issues with OMB funding principles, lack of transparency and have even referred to it as a ‘black box’ like Carper did in his E&W testimony this week during a hearing on the Corps’ Civil Works Program. Carper said it nicely, but things get ugly. Some projects that have favorable benefit cost ratios, signed Chief’s reports and the bipartisan support of Congress, the Corps and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works have been waiting for decades to get funding. Something’s not right here…
Carper’s testimony is a snapshot of the environment that policy makers, lobbyists, the Corps and other federal agencies must tread carefully in. Congress can’t earmark, but we the American people, along with our elected officials, are somehow subject to the decisions that non-elected career people must make on what programs or projects to fund or not fund. The choices OMB makes are deliberate and specifically disobey the wishes of Congress, which they and their staff work hard to procure. Congress is supposed to have the Power of the Purse.
Let’s talk about sand. Is sand sustainable?
There’s a whole desert of it, right? Isn’t the ocean floor all sand?
The first thing I’ll tell you, you already know – sand is HEAVY, which requires a lot of energy to move. Desert sand grains are round and therefore don’t work well for construction purposes, meaning it must be mined from somewhere else… Not the ocean floor, because surprisingly, most of the ocean floor is rock, silt and clay as part of the oceanic crust. Our sand sources for beaches are nearshore, meaning about 5 miles or closer, and inland sources. Sand is a resource that is becoming scarce.
The U.N.'s environment program is warning about the overuse of sand resources, saying a three-fold increase in demand over the last 20 years amid increasing population, urbanization and building work has contributed to beach erosion, flooding and drought.
Sand, however, is an excellent resource for storm surge protection. After months of comments disputing flood walls and gates, the Galveston District is now looking at the use of dunes instead of flood walls, gates and levees along the ‘Coastal Spine’.
Blue Crabs back by the numbers – Chesapeake Bay
The swimming blue claw – a staple of Maryland cuisine, is back and in greater numbers than the Chesapeake has seen in 7 years. The bay’s health has continued to rise since its governor took serious measures to clean it up.
Section 7001 Proposals – This is how you get a federal water resources project. It is the very first step. If you need help, please let us know. This section mandates a report to Congress for the development of future water resources projects. You can check out all the projects here that didn’t make it in last year’s report, go to the appendices. Don’t miss the deadline – August 27th, 2019.
EXTRA – This week Coastal Strategies had the opportunity to learn about a new plant called Kernza, which grows an especially impressive root system (see below). It got me thinking – what if that could be used for erosion control like dune grasses? Unfortunately I did my research and reached out to the lead scientist who said that the purposes I suggested were not likely. However, it is new innovations like this plant that will enable greater erosion control through vegetative and natural systems. The plant is still currently being developed for domestic use, meaning the final crop may exhibit different traits than it does now, like tolerance to salinity and flooding. In short, dune grass performs very well and Kernza is not (currently) a feasible replacement. What other natural vegetation is out there that we aren’t thinking about?
Photo: Jerry Glover