Senate committee takes first step to protect Tangier Island and Coastal Virginia

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAVY) — The U.S. Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works (EPW) accepted Senator Tim Kaine’s provisions to start new flood-resilience projects that would protect Tangier Island and Coastal Virginia on Thursday. 

The EPW Committee’s draft of the “America’s Water Infrastructure Act” includes Coastal Virginia and Tangier Island as potential projects to address both of their environmental needs, according to a press release from Kaine’s office.

Once the document is passed into law, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can create detailed plans for each project and then Congress can fund them. 

The provisions state a project for Coastal Virginia, including the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Hampton Roads, will need to look at options to reduce storm and flood damage and make coastal infrastructure and communities less vulnerable to flooding and shoreline erosion.

The City of Norfolk recently adopted their own plan for resiliency. 

A project for Tangier Island will evaluate ecosystem restoration, flood risk management and navigation options that reduce the island’s critical vulnerability to erosion and flood damage

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated that if immediate action is not taken, Tangier Island could be substantially uninhabitable within the next 50 years due to erosion, which they believe is caused by sea level rise due to climate change. The island currently shrinks by 15 feet each year. 

Related: President Donald Trump calls mayor of Tangier Island

“This bill will help move the ball forward so we can defend Virginia’s coastal communities and resources against the negative effects of sea level rise,” Kaine said via press release. He’s calling on his colleagues to support the legislation. 

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