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Pallone Legislation to Help Coastal Communities Combat Climate Change Flooding

August 22, 2019
Press Release

Keyport, N.J. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) joined local leaders and environmentalists to update the public on his legislation to protect coastal communities from the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and biodiversity loss, while sequestering carbon emissions. The Living Shorelines Act would create a federal grant program through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assist states, localities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in constructing living shorelines. The group met in Keyport to highlight a local living shoreline proje​ct.

“The Living Shorelines Act will help us protect our coastal communities from the effects of climate change, including more flooding from sea level rise and loss of fish and bird habitats, by harnessing proven natural infrastructure,” said Congressman Pallone. “Since Superstorm Sandy, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make New Jersey more resilient against the effects of climate change. Keyport’s living shoreline project is already working to strengthen the coastline in New Jersey. My legislation will provide additional help so communities can use Keyport’s example to mitigate future flooding while benefiting our local environment and economies.”

The Living Shorelines Act was introduced in June and received a legislative hearing in the Natural Resources Committee in July. Living shoreline projects use natural materials and systems, including dunes, wetlands, and oyster reefs, to support the natural flood resilience of healthy shoreline ecosystems. Natural infrastructure is cost-effective and creates jobs. It is adaptable to changing environmental conditions and some types can sequester carbon emissions at rates higher than plants on land. It also enhances ecosystem functions which can improve water quality, wildlife habitat protection, and local recreation.  

The legislation provides $50 million in federal funds that would be matched by state and local governments and NGOs applying for grants and projects. They would be monitored to measure and help determine best practices for future living shoreline projects. The bill would give priority consideration to projects in areas where a federal disaster has been declared in the past 10 years or that have a history of flooding, which includes New Jersey’s coastal towns. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

The legislation has the support of the National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, American Littoral Society, Restore America’s Estuaries, American Society for Landscape Architects, the Jersey Shore Partnership, Earthjustice, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Blue Frontier Campaign, the Middlebury Institute’s Center for the Blue Economy, and the NY/NJ Baykeeper.