Report: Coastal states poorly equipped to handle rising seas, extreme weather
The increased erosion of beach front along the coast of South Carolina at separate time intervals during January 2017, is blamed on the rising water table of the Atlantic Ocean, a global phenomenon linked to global warming. Photos: U.S. Geological Survey.
New analysis from the Surfrider Foundation details coastal states ability to respond to extreme weather
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. – The Surfrider Foundation released its annual State of the Beach Report Card, Tuesday, which grades 30 states and the territory of Puerto Rico on policies to address coastal erosion, sea level rise and extreme weather events.
The results reveal that the majority of coastal states assessed are performing at moderate to poor levels, with the lowest coastal states located in regions that are most heavily impacted by extreme weather events. The overarching trends also indicate that while the majority of coastal states need to make improvements to protect our coastlines for the future, they also need continued support at the federal level for the Coastal Zone Management Act and funding for agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also known as NOAA.
Thirteen states scored a D or F, including states that have fared the worst in hurricanes over the past several years. Every Gulf state scored a D or F – except Texas, which scored a C. As about 40 percent of the U.S. population lives along America’s coastlines and the ocean economy contributes more than $352 billion to U.S. GDP annually, the protection of our beaches and coastlines is not only important for our environment but it’s also in the nation’s best economic interest.
“Our beaches are disappearing at alarming rates, and our report shows that the majority of states do not have strong policies in place to protect our coasts, or worse, have loopholes that actually prevent it,” said Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. “A glaring trend of the report reveals that many of the areas hit hardest from recent extreme weather events, are the least prepared to address coastal erosion, rising sea levels and the increasing impacts of climate change.”
Surfrider’s State of the Beach Report Card evaluates the performance of 30 coastal and Great Lakes states, and Puerto Rico, against criteria across four major categories of sediment management, development, coastal armoring and sea level rise. Each state was assessed on policies, regulations, planning and implementation based on existing literature, online resources, communication with coastal zone management agencies and local monitoring by the Surfrider Foundation, which leads more than 80 chapters and 60 youth clubs nationwide.
“The goal of the State of the Beach Report Card is to increase awareness of the enormous threats facing our coastlines and to improve how states and municipalities respond to coastal erosion and sea level rise,” said Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Coastal Preservation Manager for the Surfrider Foundation.
“The report card is intended to empower concerned citizens to work with their coastal municipalities, motivate decision-makers and agencies to implement proactive solutions, and the results demonstrate the need for continued federal support to strengthen the resiliency of our coastline.
Since 2000, the Surfrider Foundation has been compiling the State of the Beach report to assess the health of our nation’s beaches. For more information, visit Surfrider’s comprehensive State of the Beach online resource or find out more at Surfrider.org.
About Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 500,000 supporters, activists and members, with more than 80 volunteer-led chapters and 60 clubs in the U.S., and more than 400 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at surfrider.org.