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Committee Passes Ruppersberger’s Bill to Help Coastal Communities Prepare for Storms, Floods

Sep 19, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – The U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Natural Resources has passed bipartisan legislation authored by Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) that will help local and state governments protect the country’s 95,000 miles of shoreline.

The Committee unanimously passed the bill yesterday, setting the stage for a vote for passage by the full House of Representatives. The Digital Coast Act allows professionals at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to begin a comprehensive mapping process of the nation’s shorelines. Coastal communities will be able to use the data to prepare for storms, manage floods, restore ecosystems and plan smarter developments near America’s coasts, harbors, ports and shorelines. 

“America’s fragile shorelines are home to more than half of our country’s population and millions of businesses that supply most of our gross domestic product,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “But the geospatial data we need to protect our coasts is woefully outdated, inaccurate and even nonexistent in some places. I am pleased the Committee recognized the importance of this bill and I urge leadership to schedule a full House vote now.”

Geospatial mapping information can be complicated, expensive to collect, and difficult to use without in-house expertise. The Digital Coast Act will give local planners and managers the high-tech data they need to make accurate decisions and smart investments that could save people and property. NOAA will also train decision-makers at the local and state level on how to use the datasets to answer questions about storm surge, erosion, and water level trends. The data will also be available on NOAA’s website for free and easy public access. 

This is the sixth time Congressman Ruppersberger and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) have introduced the Digital Coast Act since 2010. Companion bills sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) passed with unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate during the 114th and 115th Sessions of Congress.