DEWEY BEACH, Del. – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, finished his state-wide Climate Change tour by meeting with Center for the Inland Bays’s Executive Director Chris Bason to discuss efforts to create living shorelines in order to protect vulnerable beach communities from rising seas.
“In Delaware, climate change is not up for debate,” said Senator Carper. “We see the evidence in our flooding streets, our changing marshes and our eroding coastlines. While some in other parts of the country may have time to dabble in ignorance, in the First State, we have far too much to lose. While the challenge we face is unprecedented, I’m heartened by the many innovative ways Delawareans are working together to insulate our communities, businesses and families from rising seas and increasingly unpredictable weather. Instead of supporting these efforts and acting to combat climate change before it’s too late, the President’s budget blueprint released last month proposes cutting funding for a number of these innovative, crucial efforts. These cuts represent a backward view of how we will protect our communities and create and sustain job growth in the decades to come. Investments in clean air and water, resilient coastlines, and clean energy are investments in the future of our economy and our country. If we fail to act now, the costs pushed onto our children and grandchildren may be more than they can bear.”
“Climate change is not a distant threat on the horizon; we are already feeling its effects here on the Inland Bays through increased flooding, even during minor storms,” said Chris Bason, Executive Director of the Center for the Inland Bays. “Through research, planning and adaptation projects, the Center plays a critical role in helping affected communities adapt to rising seas and a changing climate.”
Senator Carper began his tour of climate change’s impacts in Delaware early this morning in Southbridge, an area along the Christina River in southern Wilmington already suffering from increased flooding due to climate-change caused sea-level rise. Senator Carper was joined by Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn Garvin and Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki for a walking tour of the Southbridge Wilmington Wetlands Project. The Southbridge Wilmington Wetlands Project will create a high functioning wetland to handle excess storm water runoff and reduce chronic flooding in the Southbridge neighborhood. The $23.9 million project was supported by federal funding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and EPA’s Brownfields program and promises to reduce chronic flooding in the Southbridge neighborhood, provide new green space and recreational opportunities, spur economic and housing development, and restore damaged natural habitat.
Senator Carper then toured sections of Delaware State Route 9 in Odessa where the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is considering permanently closing the road due to frequent flooding caused by sea level rise. DelDOT officials have concluded that their budget does not allow for raising the road to mitigate continual flooding.
In the afternoon, Senator Carper visited St. Jones Reserve, a component of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) just outside of Dover. St. Jones Reserve conducts important research on long-term weather changes and water quality, and measurable impacts of climate change on plant and animal life in Delaware’s wetlands and marshes. Ongoing research conducted at the reserve continues to show the already drastic effects that warmer waters and sea level rise are having on the long-term viability of Delaware’s marshes. The President’s budget blueprint released last month recommending eliminating all $23 million in funding for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.
President Trump’s budget blueprint released last month recommended cutting $2.6 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, representing a 31 percent cut to the agency, including eliminating funding for state climate change assistance programs and drastically cutting funding to state coastal resiliency programs. The budget blueprint also proposed cutting $1 billion from the Army Corps of Engineers which serves as a vital partner to states in water and transportation infrastructure projects including dredging and beach replenishment along Delaware’s coast.