Velazquez Reintroduces Bill Establishing National Database to Combat Rising Sea Levels
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY) reintroduced a The National Coastal Resilience Data and Services Act (bill text can be found here). This bill will address present and future flooding risks, develop innovative and science-based solutions to combat the climate crisis, and create an interagency subcommittee on coastal flooding and sea level rise.
“New York City has already suffered the consequences of rising sea levels and flooding,” said Velazquez. “Through improving our collection of maps, observations, and data on rising sea levels, coastal cities and towns can address the unique problems climate change poses to their area. Having ready and convenient access to this information is the first step to science-based solutions for a more resilient future. The National Coastal Resilience Data and Services Act will create a centralized database that is consistent and reliable to help address this issue. We must pass this legislation so we can better prepare sustainable infrastructure to protect our buildings and ensure the safety of our environmental justice coastal communities against any disaster that comes their way.”
Millions of people and billions of dollars in critical infrastructure are at risk due to the threat of coastal floods. These events are predicted to be more frequent and severe in the future, threatening national and economic security. In 2020 the United States Atlantic hurricane season was the most active on record, causing billions of dollars in damages. The United States annual high tide flooding frequency is accelerating and has more than doubled since 2000 due to rising sea levels.
This bill would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to collect and centralize data on flood risks across the nation. This central database entitled the National Coastal Data Information System, would help coastal communities prepare for future natural disasters through data analysis product development and the collection of maps, and data on rising sea levels.
Velázquez incorporated a new measure into the bill that would direct the President to establish the first interagency subcommittee on coastal flooding and sea level rise. The new measure further states that the Director of the Office of Science and Technology will facilitate interagency cooperation to improve the United States ability to prepare for, mitigate, and recover from potentially devastating impacts of sea level rise.
In addition, this legislation declares that it will be the policy of the U.S. government to increase resiliency by preparing for and protecting against the social, economic, and environmental impacts of coastal flooding, sea level rise, and storm events. The bill also emphasizes Congress’ need to engage with government agencies and various environmental justice organizations to help combat this issue.
“North Brooklyn's waterfront is extremely vulnerable to floods and at risk for severe inundation due to sea level rise and the climate change,” said Katherine Conkling, Co-chair Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park. “The Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park advocate for sustainable resilience responses to these threats and applaud Representative Nydia Velázquez introducing the National Coastal Resilience Data and Services Act. We are desperate for a comprehensive plan to protect our neighborhoods. This bill will go a long way to fund critical research and interagency coordination of technology and resources to mitigate, plan for future floods.”
"As active stewards of a tidal estuary here in New York Harbor, we are keenly aware of the need for this legislation as risks from flooding and sea level rise continue to increase for coastal neighborhoods," said Brad Vogel, Captain of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club.
“Climate change is already having severe impacts on coastal communities, as sea-level rise has dramatically increased incidents of tidal flooding and deadly storm surges. The Great Lakes are oscillating between record lows and record highs water levels. These problems are only set to multiply in the coming decades. This legislation puts in place the framework for the response our nation needs,” said Rob Moore, Senior Analyst for NRDC’s Healthy People and Thriving Communities Program.
The National Coastal Resilience Data and Services Act also received endorsements from the Natural Resource Defense Council, GreenLatinos, Friends of the Earth, Friends of Bushwick inlet Park, Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, Sequoia Forest Keeper, and Roots Action.