U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a hearing entitled “A Decade of the Digital Coast Partnership Program: Successes and Opportunities,” at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The hearing will examine how partners and stakeholders contribute to and use the Digital Coast, a NOAA-sponsored partnership focused on helping communities address coastal management issues through data, tools, and training.
- Ms. Nicole LeBoeuf, Deputy Assistant Administrator for National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Mr. Paul Barnes, Geographic Information Systems Director, Harrison County, Miss.
- Mr. Tyson Fettes, Register of Deeds, Racine County, Wis.
- Mr. David Millar, Government Accounts Director Americas, Fugro
*Witness list subject to change.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Thank you, Ranking Member Baldwin.
What’s so great about the tool that we are talking about this morning is that it allows folks to visualize sea level rise and what it means for coastal communities.
In 2014, this committee held a field hearing in Miami Beach. One of our witnesses was Dr. Piers Sellers, a prestigious NASA scientist and former astronaut.
He said: “By the end of the century, the intensity of hurricanes, including rainfall near the centers of hurricanes, may increase… but even if hurricane frequency and intensity do not change, rising sea levels and coastal development will likely increase the impact of hurricanes and other coastal storms on those coastal communities and infrastructure.”
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here it is folks: sunny day king tide flooding in Miami Beach.
And we held another field hearing in West Palm Beach last year. The Broward County resilience officer showed video of a man biking along a city of Fort Lauderdale sidewalk submerged in sea water.
Then we took the committee to St. Petersburg, Florida—where the city has designed its new pier out of floating docks to accommodate the rising seas.
And we could go to see tidal flooding and sea level rise in Sarasota. The vice mayor brought me these pictures last month.
Or St. Augustine, Florida, where the Public Works Department is seeing nuisance flooding from high tides that overwhelms their storm water system.
But these are all examples of how sea level rise affects coastal Florida on sunny days. The NASA scientist at our hearing was talking about how climate could exacerbate the damage from hurricanes. Warmer ocean water fuels hurricanes—making them more intense. And sea level rise compounds storm surge and rain-induced flooding.
So here are some more pictures we should enter into the tool.
Here’s flooding in Jacksonville during Hurricane Irma.
And how about Puerto Rico? Hurricane Maria absolutely ravaged the island.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that climate change and sea level rise are putting people’s lives and their property at risk: it is the reality.
So, the real question is, what are we going to do about it? And there are two pieces to a solution.
One, we’re going to have to stop putting so many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere so fast. This part of the solution is called climate mitigation.
And it means we must invest in new technology—in the economy of the future. Things like wind, solar, electric vehicles and more efficient buildings.
And two, we’re going to have to make our communities more resilient to the greenhouse gases and the warming that we’ve already got in the system.
This is called climate change adaptation, and you don’t have to agree with climate science to know that it makes sense—and it makes dollars and cents—to do this.
We’re talking about strengthening our building codes to withstand wind events. Restoring the function of floodplains so that when two to three feet of rainwater gets dumped in one place, it can absorb and recede. Rebuilding natural flood protection, like sand dunes and beaches.
I’m committed to doing both because I’m committed to the safety of our coastal communities. Failure to act on that information is not an option.
Given all the information this committee has on record, it’s my hope we’ll do that this month and report out the Coastal Communities Adaptation Act—legislation I filed to provide financial assistance to communities like those in Florida that are working to become more resilient. In support of that, Mr. Chairman, I’d like to enter these letters in support of my bill into the record.
Thank you and Ranking Member Baldwin for holding this timely hearing. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.
Witness Panel 1
Ms. Nicole LeBoeufDeputy Assistant Administrator for National Ocean ServiceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Mr. Paul BarnesGeographic Information Systems DirectorPaul Harrison County, Miss.
Mr. Tyson FettesRegister of DeedsRacine County, Wis.
Mr. David MillarGovernment Accounts Director AmericasFugro