House, FEMA build path forward for green infrastructure

Wins in Washington, D.C. propel estuary restoration 

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) took a huge leap forward in their flood prevention policy by moving away from floodwalls and towards nature-based solutions to aid in flood prevention in coastal states.  

The new policy says that mitigation projects can include the ecosystem service benefits in the cost benefit analysis.  This change will encourage more nature-based solutions such as living shorelines, rather than alternatives such as seawalls which might be cheaper to install but also have negative environmental consequences. 

These nature-based solutions will improve the health of our estuaries and bays by combatting coastal erosion, sediment transport and buildup, and allowing rivers and streams to handle high-water events in a natural manner.  

Hard infrastructure projects, such as the aforementioned floodwalls, do little for the environment beyond protecting communities from floods 

RAE and our partners have been implementing nature-based solutions into our restoration projects for some time and we are happy to see the federal government take this step and join us in funding resiliency projects that also include environmental benefits” said Hilary Stevens, Coastal Resilience Manager for RAE.  

Additionally, legislation introduced in the US House of Representatives recently took a huge step towards protecting our oceans and addressing the climate crisis.  

Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), along with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), co-chair of the Estuaries Caucus, and chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14), introduced the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act.  

The package includes provisions from Bonamici’s Blue Carbon for Our Planet ActCOAST Research ActWater Power Research and Development Act, and BLUE GLOBE Act, as well as six other bills she co-led. 

To view the full press conference unveiling the Act, click here. 

The proposed legislation also received praise from Queen QuetChieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, and recent keynote speaker at the 2020 National Coastal & Estuarine Virtual Summit hosted by RAE.  

“Every letter in OCEAN is addressed in this act,” said Queen Quet“Ocean Protection. Climate action. Enhancing Coordination of federal research. Achievement of the UN sustainable development goal number 14. And Nature-based solutions.” 

Restore America’s Estuaries is also proud to support this proposed legislation and we thank our leadership for taking such encouraging action to protect our bays, shorelines, and estuaries.  

 References in this post originally appeared in this article from E&E News.