Lawmakers Told to Act Now on Climate Change

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 4:27 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) -The Governor is asking lawmakers to spend $1 billion on coastal resiliency over the next four years to combat climate change and a House subcommittee got an earful on the dire situation facing the state from experts Thursday morning.

16 million Floridians live near Florida’s 1,300 miles of shoreline, but the areas are at risk.

“The beaches are the largest single driver of our economy,” said Pepper Uchino, President of the Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association.

Uchino told lawmakers the state can expect roughly a meter of sea level rise by 2100.

His message: Act now.

“If we build better now, even though it’s more expensive, it may cost a lot less in the long run,” said Uchino.

And the state’s lack of action so far is already playing out in the economy, with an expected $10 to $30 billion loss in property value by 2030.

“Since 2005 Florida homes have lost $5.42 billion due to flooding. This is revenue to our local governments,” said Alec Bogdanoff, Ph.D. with the American Flood Coalition.

The experts who testified called the Governor’s billion dollar plan a good starting point.

“The one billion dollars is a wonderful first step. I hope it’s continued into the future and increased in the future,” said Uchino.

And the Flood Coalition has estimated the investment could create as many as 45,000 new jobs.

“Construction industry, engineering, water resources, it’s going to create a lot of jobs in industries that are right now looking for more people,” said Bogdanoff.

While the situation may appear dire, there is cause for optimism.

“Florida’s not behind. It might be walking a little slower than some other folks, but we have an opportunity to run right now,” said Bogdanoff.

The state has spent about $6.5 million on resiliency projects to date.

Only about $1.4 million has actually gone towards implementing projects, the rest has gone towards planning.

Experts who testified before lawmakers also highlighted the need for the state to seek federal funding to help with resiliency, saying the state is leveling money on the table.

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