WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), once again introduced legislation that would add the District of Columbia (D.C.) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Zone Management Program, enabling D.C. to access federal funds for crucial flood control efforts and environmental restoration projects. The Flood Prevention Act of 2019 would help D.C. residents take advantage of a federal coastal program that protects residents, natural resources and infrastructure around the country from the increasing risk of flooding.
Earlier this year, companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Eleanor Norton (D-D.C.).
“One of the many inequities facing the District of Columbia is its current ineligibility to receive federal funding and other benefits under the Coastal Zone Management Act. This law helps many states, including my home state of Delaware, restore and conserve coastal resources and communities. Despite some 70 percent of the District lying within a coastal plain, the District is not considered a coastal state or territory under the law – so it is virtually left on its own to fend against the climate impacts of rising seas and worsening floods. That’s just not fair,” said Senator Carper, who is also a longtime advocate for D.C. statehood. “Fairness dictates that the federal taxpayers of D.C. should be able to benefit from this federal program, just as thousands of Delawareans and millions of Americans do. I’m proud to once again join forces with Congresswoman Holmes Norton and Mayor Bowser on this important issue.”
“Even though the District is located on two rivers and has suffered substantial coastal floods in the past, D.C. was omitted from the list of eligible states and territories in the CZMA,” said Congresswoman Norton. “This oversight probably occurred because the CZMA was passed in 1972 – before the District achieved home rule. Territories are included in the definition of “coastal states,” and it appears that D.C.’s omission was a mistake, which only Congress can correct. Scientists have predicted that the tides on the Atlantic Coast could rise two to four feet by the year 2100, causing as much as $7 billion worth of property in the District to be routinely under threat by floodwaters. This damage not only would be to private homes and businesses, but the National Mall, federal buildings, and three military bases located in the District. The District of Columbia should be eligible for CZMA grants just like the states and territories.”
“Washington, DC’s historic Anacostia and Potomac Rivers are an integral part of our identity and our culture,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “As a delta city, DC is extremely susceptible to increased flooding and other effects of climate change. I thank Senator Carper for his leadership and working to ensure that the District is prepared to address the growing environmental challenges of the 21st century, while keeping our rivers clean and thriving.”
Since 1950, NOAA reports there has been a 343 percent increase in nuisance flooding in the District, and, since 2006, D.C. has experienced two 100-year flooding events. District officials estimate that a future, larger flood event could cause over $1.5 billion in damages.
If included in the Coastal Zone Management Program, D.C. could be eligible for $1 million or more of federal funding annually to assist in coastal flood-control projects, combat non-point source water pollution and develop special area management plans in areas experiencing environmental justice and/or flooding issues. D.C. could also use the federal consistency process to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies comply with its coastal zone management plan for any federally funded or permitted projects.
For full text of the bill, click HERE.