Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday announced the re-introduction of two bills that would help states and local communities mitigate the impacts of climate change — the Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act (House Resolution 764) and the Water System Resiliency and Sustainability Act (House Resolution 765). Capps introduced both bills in the 112th Congress.
The Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act would help coastal states plan and implement climate change mitigation projects. Coastal counties are home to more than 50 percent of the U.S. population and provide 58 percent of the country’s GDP, with nearly 5 million Americans living within 4 feet of the high tide level.
The Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act would address the challenges faced by these communities by supporting their efforts to voluntarily modify their current coastal management plans to address climate change impacts. Additionally, states could use grant funding to implement climate change adaptation strategies, such as identifying areas of greatest risk and developing performance measures for protecting infrastructure and coastal ecosystems.
Capps was joined by California Rep. Sam Farr and six other original co-sponsors.
“As extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy become increasingly common, coastal states are being forced to tackle the daunting challenges of adapting to climate change realities like higher storm surges, sea level rise and increased erosion,” Capps said. “There is an urgent need to address these challenges, but states and communities are struggling to do so because of the high cost. That is why I authored the Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act, which would provide grants to states to start planning and implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. These projects will not only help protect our coastal communities from the impacts of climate change, but also create mitigation-related jobs in our coastal communities.”
“Our coastal communities have been left vulnerable by this nation’s refusal to address the growing problem of climate change,” Farr said. “Californians, like all Americans living in coastal states, now face threats to our health, our environment and our economy. This bill would provide the resources necessary to plan for and combat the unique challenges created by climate change.”
Additionally, Capps has re-introduced the Water System Resiliency and Sustainability Act, which would help drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities prepare for the impacts of climate-related risks on their operations.
Under the framework created by the legislation, each year the EPA would request adaptation projects from drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities, and award matching funds to those projects that help utilities address the most significant climate-related risks and benefit the largest numbers of water users. Utilities may use the federal matching funds on projects that build resiliency to changing hydrological conditions, including through water conservation and efficiency measures, enhancing water management through source water protection and green infrastructure, or facilitating the use of advanced technologies — such as water reuse and recycling — to increase available water supplies. Additionally, utilities could use funds to jump-start local-level analyses to determine what future water resource challenges they will face.
“Investing in water infrastructure is a clear way to increase jobs in communities across the country,” Capps said. “But just as our economy needs an infusion of new jobs, the impacts of climate change are another looming threat to the economy, and will be for decades to come. The Water System Resiliency and Sustainability Act addresses both of these issues, while protecting public health. This bill is a win-win-win for our economy, our health, and our environment.”
Capps worked closely with the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, environmental organizations and other key stakeholders to develop the legislation. A recent report commissioned by these water utility organizations estimated that American drinking water and wastewater systems will need nearly $1 trillion in additional investment through 2050 to overcome the impacts of global climate change on their systems. Click here to read a support letter from 14 organizations.
“In the decades ahead, the nation’s water and wastewater systems are expected to face a series of water quality and quantity challenges brought on by severe drought, melting snowpack, more frequent heavy precipitation events and rising sea levels, said Diane VanDe Hei, executive director of AMWA. “The Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act will help communities access the tools they need to maintain clean and safe water service despite these new obstacles. AMWA thanks Representative Capps for her leadership on this issue, and looks forward to working with her to advance this important legislation.”
— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.