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

Dec 10, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives 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 Digital Coast Act was included in H.R. 729, a package of bills that seek to protect coastal communities in the “splash zone” of climate change.
The Digital Coast Act creates a new program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), allowing it to begin a comprehensive mapping process of the nation’s shorelines. Coastal communities – home to 42 percent of our country’s population and millions of businesses that supply most of our gross domestic product – 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.
“This is a big win for American families and businesses who live, work and play along our country’s fragile shorelines, such as Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and Ocean City,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “For too long, coastal maps and geospatial data have been woefully inaccurate, outdated, or even nonexistent. Today, we’re arming local planners and managers with the tools they need to save people and property.”
Geospatial mapping information can be complicated, expensive to collect, and difficult to use without in-house expertise. The Digital Coast Act will empower NOAA to 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.
The bipartisan bill was cosponsored by Congressman Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, home to more than 44,000 miles of coastline, much of which is not fully mapped.
The bill now heads to consideration in the U.S. Senate, where Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced companion legislation.