Senate hearing in Bethany Beach: Gov. Carney and LA Governor John Bel Edwards testify on need for SHORRE Act
BETHANY BEACH, Del. – Lawmakers and Officials including Senator Tom Carper, Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester met in Bethany Beach Friday to hear testimony on the need to pass comprehensive shore restoration infrastructure spending.
“The signs are clear, we must make our infrastructure more resilient and more mature based to withstand our changing climate,” Senator Carper said.
During the session, meant to gather support for The SHORRE Act, or Shoreline Health Oversight, Restoration, Resilience, and Enhancement Act, hearing from Governors John Carney and John Bel Edwards of Louisiana.
Governor Edwards spoke on how he believes his state is an example of strong coastal protection with the state implementing their own $50 billion protection program following Hurricane Katrina. He says federal dollars can allow for that kind of protection to make it to other states as well.
He also says Louisiana is an example of just how fast low-lying areas can disappear as sea levels rise.
“We continue to lose a football field every hundred minutes if it weren’t for recent hurricanes our state was poised to build more land than it lost but just in hurricane Ida we lost 106 square miles,” he said. Governor Edwards described that despite efforts from their state Louisiana had lost an area roughly equivalent to the size of Delaware over the last hundred years, due in part to a combination of sea-level rise and erosion from flooding caused by more frequent and severe weather events.
Governor Carney also spoke to how federal dollars are helping Delaware replenish beaches and protect tourism to the area, but spoke to how the SHORRE act would do more. Carney pointed to Prime Hook wildlife refuge as the example of the greater need, as federal dollars have restored and preserved dunes, while other parts of the park have already been lost to sea-level rise.
“The parking lot that used to be at the edge of the beach is now 20 yards out into the bay,” Governor Carney said.
All participants are advocating for the passage of the SHORRE act, which would allow the Army Corp of Engineers to expand the size and scope of their projects with natural, and artificial structures to prevent not just erosion, but flooding from stronger and more frequent storms.
“We cannot just restore or retreat we must restore and we must retreat,” said Executive Director of Coastal States Organization Derek Brochbank.
Senator Carper also used the meeting as an opportunity to call for more action to tackle the cause of the sea-level rise, an issue that the SHORRE Act is in response to.
“If we do not address the problem of climate change then Delaware and all coastal states are in for a world of hurt,” Sen. Carper said.