On Wednesday, Feb. 8th, American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) President, Anthony P. (Tony) Pratt testified about the need for federal investment in coastal infrastructure such as beaches, dunes and wetlands at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, “Oversight: Modernizing our Nation’s Infrastructure.” Pratt is the Administrator for Shoreline and Waterway Management at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).
The hearing was held as Congress begins to develop legislation on investing in U.S. infrastructure. Natural coastal infrastructure, such as beaches, dunes and wetlands, provide coastal risk reduction, but also provide recreation, support coastal economies, provide habitat and environmental services, and are – above all – an incredible job creator. ASBPA has called for an investment of $5 billion over 10 years for natural coastal infrastructure as part of a federal infrastructure bill. This investment should easily pay for itself in avoiding costs related to disaster recovery, and in generating economic revenue including job creation and protection.
“Investing in coastal infrastructure will save the federal government money by reducing post-disaster recovery payments,” said Pratt in his testimony. “Federal investment in shore protection was estimated to have saved $1.9 billion in damages during Hurricane Sandy. With a $65 billion recovery price tag, imagine how much we could have saved if we’d invested a fraction of that money to update our coastal infrastructure before the storm rather than after.”
“Beaches get more recreational use in the U.S. than all our national parks combined,” continued Pratt. “Therefore beaches support tourism jobs throughout coastal communities. This adds up to a major economic impact – beaches help generate $225 billion annually to the national economy.”
“Water and coastal infrastructure, such as beaches, dunes, wetlands and the like, may not fit the traditional vision of steel and concrete stretching as high or as far as they eye can see. But they are just as critical to our nation’s economy and well-being, and they provide just as many, if not more, jobs and other economic benefits,” finished Pratt. “We urge Congress to invest $5 billion over 10 years in coastal infrastructure. Financing options and incentivizing private investment is helpful for smaller localized projects, but to really create jobs and make a sound investment the federal government needs to fund coastal projects.”
Tony Pratt’s full testimony is available at: EPW Testimony on Coastal Infrastructure (PDF – 126kb)
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Derek Brockbank, ASBPA Executive Director – (202) 827-4246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
 Houston, J. 2013. “The economic value of beaches – a 2013 update” Shore & Beach 81(1), 3-11