In recognition of
the summer season and the subsequent hurricane season,
Congressman Timothy Bishop and Senator Chuck Schumer have expressed their
desire for quick responses to the Army Corps' report. Similarly, the
includes discussions of anticipated climate change and the associated risks
of future changes such as more frequent hurricanes and nor'easters and
greater than anticipated rates of sea level rise.
Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point, NY (FIMP) Reformulation Study - Update
2nd in a series of on-going articles
Army Corps of Engineers National Planning Center
For Coastal and
Over the last several months
there has been considerable attention focused on the locally designed and funded
shore protection efforts the communities have undertaken. These efforts while comparatively
small have been critical in maintaining a healthy Barrier Island. It is widely acknowledged that a
healthy Barrier Island provides a first line of defense for the mainland of
Long Island and provides critical habitat for endangered species and other
wildlife. With the anticipated
effects of Climate Change we can expect among other things the possibility of
increased storms and a rise in Sea Level it is therefore critical that we
plan now for these future conditions.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers draft of Formulation Report
Army Corps of Engineers has recently completed a draft Formulation
Report, which is intended to summarize efforts that have been undertaken during
the reformulation study including an assessment of the existing conditions of
the barrier islands, estuaries and mainland of the south
shore of Long Island from Fire Island to Montauk Pt; analysis of the economic and
environmental impacts of anticipated future conditions; identification of the
potential risk to life and property due to storm damages; and identification
of viable alternatives to managing storm risks along the south shore of Long Island from Fire
Island Inlet to Montauk Point. The draft Formulation Report has been
submitted to the cooperating agencies (New York State and the U.S. Department
of the Interior) to get a common understanding and consensus on the
formulation process, the alternatives that have been considered and the
potential protection measures.
General Reevaluation Report and an Environmental Impact Statement will be submitted for public review in
The document provides the basis
for decision makers to recognize the potential risks and the environmental impacts
and opportunities. The document will also facilitate discussion
with the goal of coming to a mutual agreement on a
recommended plan. After the cooperating agencies have had an opportunity
to review the draft report, discuss the findings and agree on a path forward
we hope to have a series of Public workshops to solicit additional public
input. The final product would
provide the basis for the preparation of a General Reevaluation Report and an Environmental Impact Statement which will be submitted
for public review in 2010.
Even with the final recommended plan Long Island will
remain extremely vulnerable.
In closing I would like to
remind everyone that while all the plans considered and ultimately the final
recommended plan will somewhat reduce the effects of storms; the entire area
including the mainland of Long Island will remain extremely vulnerable. Only through sound land use,
environmental stewardship and a public awareness about living in a high
hazard area can we adapt to the effects of climate change.
Editor’s note:-To further
clarify above I have presented a press release forwarded to me by Joe Vietri’s office covering similar
H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
703-919-3733 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org
EMBARGOED--For Immediate Release: April 23, 2009
LEADING INSURERS, PUBLIC OFFICIALS
AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS CALL FOR BOLD ACTION TO ADAPT TO CHANGING CLIMATE TRENDS
TO PROTECT AMERICA’S COASTLINES
Resilient Coasts Blueprint
Outlines Steps to Reduce Risks and Losses in Face of Growing Threats
WASHINGTON & BOSTON—As another hurricane season
approaches and government leaders debate U.S. climate policy, a first-ever
coalition of leading insurers, public officials, risk experts, builders and
conservation groups today announced a bold blueprint of policy changes and common sense actions
that could reduce economic losses from future storms and rising sea levels by
as much as half along U.S. coastlines. The coalition urges the Obama
Administration, Congress, local leaders and the private sector to see that
these actions are implemented through regulation, investment, education and
“Our coasts are threatened, there are reasonable steps to
counter those threats, and we as a nation are not yet taking them,” states the Resilient
Coasts Blueprint, which identifies
critical steps from fine-tuning climate risk models to predict rising seas and
powerful storms; to preserving vital, storm-buffering wetland areas; to
strengthening building codes to reduce hurricane losses. “Evidence shows we can reduce our risks and our costs by 50 percent
Directed by The Heinz Center and Ceres, the blueprint was
endorsed today by a diverse group, including The Travelers Institute, The Nature
Conservancy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Wharton
School, and the Mayor of Charleston, S.C.
“Our policymakers need to make wise and tough decisions, and
this consensus blueprint provides an important roadmap for collaboration to
address increasing hazards along our shores,” said Deb Callahan, president of
The Heinz Center.
“The people of Charleston, South Carolina, are already
combating rising seas,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, noting that one foot
of sea level rise would inundate some of the state’s shoreline areas up to a
half-mile inland. “Charleston is one of our nation’s treasures, and without
serious action today to confront these risks it—and many other American
cities—faces an uncertain future. The pressures on our coast will
continue unabated, making regional planning essential to shape growth and to
protect our social, economic and natural well being.”
A 2008 assessment by the Wharton School’s Risk Center shows
fast-rising economic losses worldwide from hurricanes and other natural
catastrophes, with many of the biggest impacts along coastal areas. Losses have increased from just over
$50 billion in the 1950s to nearly $800 billion in the 1990s, with about $620.6
billion so far in the current decade. Last year’s losses exceeded $200 billion,
including $40 billion in losses from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in the U.S. alone.
“Investors are increasingly exposed to economic losses
fueled by coastal development that ignores the intensifying hazards from rising
sea levels and stronger coastal storms,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of
Ceres, a leading coalition of investors and environmental groups working on
sustainability challenges such as climate change. “Reducing risks along the
coasts will protect vulnerable populations and the long-term value of
investments at the same time.”
Noting that the Gulf and Atlantic coasts have nearly $9
trillion of insured coastal property, coalition members called on investors to
take stock of their coastal exposure, especially in real estate and
infrastructure, and for banks to include climate risks in lending- and
investment-related due diligence.
“The Travelers Institute’s support of the Resilient Coasts
Initiative reflects its deep belief that loss mitigation, strong and well
enforced building codes, and sensible land use planning are critical to
reducing risk to life and property as well as to making private insurance more
plentiful in coastal areas,” said Joan Woodward, Travelers executive vice
president of public policy. “Because of the critical nature of its work, the Resilient Coasts Initiative
is the first project to receive the support of the newly created Travelers
Institute, which was established to participate in public policy dialogue on
matters of interest to the insurance marketplace and contribute to solutions on
a wide range of issues that face our customers and the communities we serve.”
The blueprint’s specific recommendations include:
planning for climate impacts by providing the necessary science and
risk-based land use planning;
adaptable infrastructure and building code standards to meet future risk;
ecosystems as part of a risk mitigation strategy;
flexible adaptation plans;
a viable private property and casualty insurance market;
climate change impacts into due diligence for investment and lending.
An increasing number of studies underscore the value of
reducing coastal vulnerabilities. A Wharton study concludes that homeowners in
Florida could reduce losses from a severe hurricane by 61 percent, resulting in
$51 billion in savings, simply by building to strong construction codes. South
Carolina, New York and Texas would see savings of 44 percent, 39 percent and 34
percent, respectively, according to the same study.
Similarly, the National Institute of Building Sciences shows
that every dollar spent on mitigation saves society about four dollars on
recovery costs. Despite this
evidence, nearly all U.S. coastal cities and towns lack adequate land use
requirements and building code standards to realize these savings.
The blueprint cites the example of 500 commercial clients of
the insurer FM Global, which experienced about 85 percent less damage from Hurricane Katrina as similarly
situated properties. The reduced
losses were directly the result of building retrofits and other hurricane loss
prevention and preparedness measures taken by the insurer’s 500 policyholders.
The investment return was striking—a $2.5 million investment in loss
prevention resulted in $500 million in avoided losses.
The blueprint comes as debate is intensifying in Congress
over climate adaptation. The recently announced draft Waxman/Markey climate and
energy bill would require states and federal agencies to develop climate
adaptation plans, create dedicated funds for ecosystem adaptation efforts and
establish a National Climate Service to create climate data and adaptation
support tools for local governments.
“It is high time to address the impacts of severe weather
and rising seas on the lives and livelihoods of coastal citizens,” said the
Heinz Center’s Callahan. “This blueprint provides thoughtful,
multi-sector guidance as Congress defines a national strategy for a more
About the Heinz Center
in December 1995 in honor of Senator H. John Heinz III, the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the
Environment (http://www.heinzcenter.org/) is a
nonprofit, nonpartisan institution dedicated to improving the scientific
and economic foundation for environmental policy through multisectoral
collaboration. Focusing on issues that are likely to confront policymakers, the
Center creates and fosters collaboration among industry, environmental
organizations, academia, and government in each of its program areas and
projects. In this, the Center is carrying out the legacy of Senator
Ceres (http://www.ceres.org) is a leading coalition of investors,
environmental groups and other public interest organizations working with
companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Ceres coordinates the Investor Network on Climate Risk
(INCR), a group of 80 institutional investors and investment firms with
collective assets totaling more than $7 trillion.
About The Travelers Institute
The Travelers Institute, created by The
Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), seeks to be a thought leader on public policy topics of importance to
the insurance marketplace. The Institute draws upon the industry
expertise of Travelers’ senior management and the technical expertise of many
of Travelers’ underwriters, risk managers, and other experts to provide
information and analysis to public policy makers and regulators. The
Institute partners with academic and non-profit institutions throughout the
world to host discussion forums regarding topics of interest to the insurance
is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and
business. For more information, visit www.travelers.com.
Resilient Coasts: A Blueprint for Action
The Resilient Coasts Blueprint was authored and endorsed
by the following organizations:A UNIFI
Risk Management Solutions
Resilient Coasts Initiative was made possible in partnership with The Travelers
Companies, Inc. and with the generous support of the Alcoa Foundation, Gaylord
and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.
Heinz Center and Ceres – along with those who have developed and endorsed
this Blueprint – undertook the challenging task of forging consensus on
principles and actions to increase coastal resilience for three fundamental
reasons: our coasts are threatened, there are reasonable steps to counter those
threats, and we as a nation are not yet taking them.
storms are wreaking increasing havoc along the world’s coasts, as Hurricane
Katrina and Cyclone Nagris indelibly demonstrated. A
recent assessment by the Wharton School’s Risk Center revealed a dramatic surge
in global economic losses from natural disasters, increasing from just over $50
billion in the 1950s to almost $800 billion in the 1990s, with about $420.6
billion so far in the current decade (through 2007)1.
Munich Re estimated worldwide economic losses from natural catastrophes at $200
billion for 2008, up from $82 billion in 20072. Lloyd’s of London and Risk
Management Solutions (RMS) predict that flood losses along tropical Atlantic
coastlines would increase 80 percent by 2030 with about one foot of sea level
rise3 – in line with the conservative estimates of the
2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
particular interest are the commonsense and cost-effective steps our nation can
take to drastically reduce such risks and their associated economic impacts.
Five hundred commercial clients of the insurer, FM Global, experienced
approximately 85 percent less damage from Hurricane Katrina as similarly
situated properties4. This significant reduction in the amount of damage was
directly attributable to hurricane loss prevention and preparedness measures
taken by these policyholders. The return on investment is striking – a
$2.5 million investment in loss prevention resulted in $500 million in avoided
increasing number of studies underscore the value and wisdom of reducing our
coastal vulnerabilities. Wharton has demonstrated that homeowners in Florida
could reduce losses from a severe hurricane by 61 percent, resulting in $51
billion in savings, simply by building to strong construction codes6.
Putting this in perspective, the same cost reductions applied to Katrina
damages would have reduced the $41.1 billion worth of insured property losses
to about $16.1 billion. Similarly, the National Institute of Building Sciences
showed that every dollar spent on mitigation saves society about four dollars
on recovery costs7. Despite this evidence, nearly all U.S. coastal cities
and towns lack adequate land use requirements and building code standards to
realize these savings. Among the additional benefits of substantially reduced
risks and costs are a stabilized coastal insurance market and less expensive
1. Wharton Risk Management and
Decision Processes Center, University of Pennsylvania. “Managing Large Scale
Risks in a New Era of Catastrophe.” 2007
2. Munich Re. 2009. NatCatSERVICE http://www.munichre.com/geo
3. Lloyd’s and RMS. 2008. “Coastal
Communities and Climate Change: Maintaining Insurability.”
D. 2006. “FM Global Touts Underwriting by Engineering as Superior.” Best’s
Review, p. 93, June.
5. Green, M. 2006. “Preparing For
the Worst.” Best’s Review, pp. 40-44, April.
6. Wharton, 2007.
7. National Institute of Building
Sciences/Multihazard Mitigation Council. 2005.
Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future
Savings from Mitigation Activities. Vol. 1. Washington, DC.
Even with stronger building codes,
our coasts face escalating risks. Roads, transit lines and drinking water
supplies – the lifelines of our coastal cities – are already facing
pressures they were not designed to withstand. The National Research Council
estimates that a sea level rise of 2-4 feet, expected to occur in the next
century, would inundate 27 percent of the major roads in the Gulf Coast8.
Yet today, in most places, even new development is not being designed to
withstand the impacts of swelling seas. As the national science agencies renew
their commitment to climate science, priority must be placed on providing local
governments with the predictive capacities and other tools they need to adapt
land use and infrastructure for an uncertain future.
need to adapt is also an opportunity to restore our coastal ecosystems, which
are a critical complement to defensive infrastructure. Wetlands provide an
estimated $23.2 billion each year of storm surge and flood protection along our
coastlines, according to a study by the University of Vermont9.
Yet the combined pressures of climate change and development – over half
our population lives along the coasts – have led to the systematic
depletion of protective wetlands. Clearly, the resiliency of our coastal
populations and our ecosystems go hand in hand.
goal in producing this Resilient Coasts Blueprint is to provide and inspire
leadership and direction throughout our businesses, governments, and
communities. The endeavor’s broad-based collaboration, along with the group’s
intention to implement these principles where appropriate within their
institutions and advocate for their broader adoption, underscores the
importance of common cause and collective action. Evidence shows we can reduce
our risks and our costs by 50 percent or more, creating a powerful foundation
for this Blueprint – for while the threats may be inevitable,
catastrophes are not.
The Heinz Center