Maryland Rep. Ruppersberger presses for digital coastal mapping project to help prepare for floods, storms
By Eugene “Jesse” Nash IV
Capital News Service|
Apr 17, 2019 at 6:00 AM
WASHINGTON — Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger has introduced a bipartisan bill that would fund a project to produce a digital map of all 95,000 miles of the U.S. coastline.
Coastal communities like Baltimore and Ocean City would benefit from the collection of geographic data about the nation’s coasts that would help prepare people against floods and storms, sponsors of the legislation said.
The project also would help researchers better understand storm surges, water level trends, and erosion around both oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.
“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,” Ruppersberger, a Democrat from Baltimore County, said in a statement. “Yet current coastal maps and geospatial data are woefully inaccurate, outdated, or even nonexistent.”
While the Trump administration’s report last month detailing the effects of rising global temperatures said Maryland had begun feeling the consequences of climate change, lawmakers and state agencies already are taking steps aimed at combating it.
By Samantha Rosen
Dec 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM
“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,” the congressman added.
The bill is the sixth version Ruppersberger has introduced. It picked up more support with each version.
The current bill proposes giving $4 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to collect the data and create a digital map.
“No other state in the nation understands the need for coastal resilience and mapping more than Alaska,” said Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, who first joined Ruppersberger on the bill in 2012. “With more than 44,000 miles of coastline, much of which is not fully mapped, Alaska’s coastal communities rely heavily on our waterways and shipping channels to support all forms of social and economic prosperity: goods from the lower 48, critical transportation needs, search and rescue operations, and the state’s largest private sector employer – our fishing industry.”
Maryland just won’t be the same in 60 years, and a new study predicts its climate will come to resemble someplace nearly 1,000 miles away, somewhere hotter and wetter and thick with mosquitoes. Welcome to Mississippi, sugah.
The latest edition of a report on predicted climate change impacts released by the Trump administration on Friday says Maryland is already seeing some effects of rising global temperatures: More floods, shorter winters and disappearing marshes.
In 2017, a bipartisan group of 18 co-sponsors joined the congressman in the map proposal, with a budget of $4 million.
The latest bill kept the $4 million budget and so far only has Young as a co-sponsor, but it is more likely to pass in the Democratic-majority House since most of its supporters last year were Democrats.
If a companion bill successfully passes in the Republican Senate, as two did in previous congressional sessions, the proposal would got to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
“By comprehensively mapping and surveying our coastline, we can ensure we have readily accessible and up-to-date tools for coastal management, planning, and disaster response,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who co-sponsored the bill that passed the Senate in 2017 and is co-sponsoring the new bill.