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Sea level rise study mandated for state-funded coastal construction

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 11:37 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As the sea level rises, the Florida legislature and governor took action.

Lawmakers unanimously passed a bill earlier in the year requiring a sea level rise study to be performed on new publicly-funded construction. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law last week.

“You should be planning for the current and coming impact of sea level rise and climate when you are spending our tax-payer dollars on coastal projects,” said State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez (D-Miami), the sponsor of the senate bill.

The law mandates that experts study the potential of damage from sea level rise before construction begins, looking at impact on public safety and the environment and providing alternatives to lower the risk. The law took effect on July 1. Those publicly-funded governments who do not perform a study and execute construction could face civil penalties.

“I felt like this bill is the best shot we have at transformative legislation,” Rodríguez said.

The senator believes more laws are needed. Beyond water rising on the coast, he’s worried about the quality of drinking water, mosquito-borne diseases, and resident’s wallets.

“If the State of Florida is going to continue to bury it’s head in the sand, we’re going to get dinged in our bond rating. And that affects everybody,” Rodríguez said.

Aliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said the bill was a common sense move.

“It’s a no-brainer bill,” she said.

Moncrief says that while they are excited about the bill becoming law, there is more that could have been done during the last legislative session.

“There were dozens of good, common sense climate and energy bills that were offered this year and last year than never saw the light of day,” she said.

Moncrief says that they will continue to beat the drum to lawmakers to ensure action is taken to fight the climate crisis.

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