Senate Passes Leno Bill Addressing Sea Level Rise Due to Climate Change

May 30, 2013

SACRAMENTO – The Senate yesterday passed legislation authored by Senator Mark Leno that helps California prepare for sea level rise related to climate change.

“Climate change is one of the most impactful environmental issues our planet faces today, and we must ensure that our communities have the resources they need to prepare for sea level rise.” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “This legislation is critical to securing the future economic viability of the state’s coastal economies, which generate more than $40 billion in economic activity each year.”

Senate Bill 461 creates the Coastal Adaptation Fund to support state and local efforts to prepare for sea level rise, utilizing Tidelands Oil Revenue generated from existing oil and gas extraction activities from the state’s tidelands. The bill restores the historic use of Tidelands Oil Revenue to support coastal protection and conservation.

Sea level rise is a serious concern in California. Extreme flooding could damage property and critical infrastructure such as airports and power plants, threaten wetlands and natural habitats and create public health hazards. By 2050, California is expected to experience sea level rise between 10 and 17 inches – and up to 69 inches by the end of the century. An estimated sea level rise of 55 inches will put at least 480,000 Californians at risk and nearly $100 billion of property in jeopardy.

“While we know the impacts of climate change are inevitable, we can take steps to prepare our natural environment and coastline for the future,” said Susan Jordan, Executive Director of California Coastal Protection Network, the sponsor of SB 461. “It is essential that state and local agencies tasked with meeting the challenges of sea level rise are adequately funded and prepared. Time is of the essence, and we cannot afford to turn our backs to this critical issue.”

Senator Leno’s bill is supported by a long list of environmental and conservancy groups, including California Coastkeeper Alliance, Heal the Bay, Natural Resources Defense Counsel, Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Shellfish Growers Association and Sierra Club California.

“California shellfish aquaculture is currently a $25 million annual industry with the potential for dramatic growth to strengthen and diversify coastal economies,” said Margaret Pilaro Barrette, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association. “We depend on healthy marine waters and we invest significant resources to monitor and protect those waters. Sea level rise and ocean acidification present a major challenge to our industry. We welcome Senator Leno’s bill to enable state agencies to begin to address this challenge,” she said.

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